Tuesday, June 20

Absolute Balderdash Review

Last night we went round to some friends for a really nice meal, and afterwards we played Absolute Balderdash. For once it wasn't me suggesting to play a game, which made a pleasant change.

I'll freely admit that I prefer strategy games to party games. However, Absolute Balderdash is entertaining due to the scoring method. The good: the scoring method requires you to interact with your opponents which adds interest. The bad: the board and pieces are fairly bland, generic party game fare.

In Absolute Balderdash, players take it in turns to read out a question from one of five categories:

  • Words: The reader reads out an obscure word, such as 'Titillomania' and the other players must write down a meaning for it.
  • People: The reader reads out the name of a person, and the other players have to write down why that person became famous.
  • Initials: The reader reads out an acronym, such as ACNE and the other players write down what it stands for.
  • Film: The reader reads out the name of a film, and the other players have to write down the main plot line.
  • Law: The reader reads out the beginning of a law (e.g. In Brainerd, Minnesota, it is illegal for men to ...), and the other players must complete the law.

While the other players write down their answer the reader must write down the correct answer as provided on the card. The reader then reads out all the answers and players must guess which one is correct. Here's where it gets interesting. The scoring is as follows:

  • You get one point for guessing the correct answer.
  • You get one point if someone guesses the answer you wrote down.
  • You get two points if you're the reader and nobody guesses the correct answer.
  • You get two points if you write down the right answer.

The answers tend to be fairly off the wall, so your chance of writing down the correct answer with nothing to go on is fairly slim. Your best bet when it comes to getting points is twofold: write an answer so implausible that your opponents believe it is the right answer; and to correctly guess the right answer from those provided by your opponents - by this point there's more information available and it's much easier. The former is actually a very entertaining mechanic as you try to create answers strange enough for the other players to believe they're the right answer.

In addition to the question mechanics, the game features a scoring track which determines which type of question will be read out and a spinner allowing players who land on certain spaces to spin the spinner and either move back one or forward two or three extra spaces. These are fairly standard, and feature in lots of party games - so nothing particularly interesting there.

Still, Absolute Balderdash is fairly entertaining, even when sober, and if party games are your thing then it's a good example of the genre. I give it 6, but it's probably nearer 7.5 for party gamers.

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