by The Beast!
(Boardgame Beast HQ)
Board game manufacturer:
Number of players:
3-6 (but can be played in groups)
Beyond Balderdash will challenge everybody’s ability to convince their peers. It’s a game of creative thinking and writing, BS and bluff. With five categories to keep your opponents guessing, there’s something for almost everybody in this great game.
The game and gameplay
Beyond Balderdash does have a board, but to call is a board game stretches the point. It’s really a word game, challenging players to write convincing blurb on one of five categories.
The beauty is that even talented writers will often struggle, while anybody with an instinct for nosing out the truth — no matter how bizarre that truth might be! — will do very nicely.
Beyond Balderdash players choose a coloured pawn and place it on the “board” (a representation of a staircase). A box full of cards is passed to one player, the Dasher, who is in charge of reading out the various definitions.
The Dasher takes the first card from the box and rolls a die. The numbers one through five represent the five different categories on the card: word definition (as in the original Balderdash game), famous person, date in history, acronym or movie plot. If the dasher throws a six, he or she can choose which category to use on that turn.Now the Dasher reads out the question. An example: “Margaret Mollingwood is famous for what?” or “What does P.B.N.T. stand for?”
The Dasher takes a piece of paper (Beyond Balderdash supplies mini pads for this purpose, but any scrap paper will do just as well once they have been exhausted) and writes down the correct definition.
Meanwhile, the other players write their own definitions on other pieces of paper and mark them with their names, taking care that nobody else can see their answers.
The Dasher sorts through the definitions. Any which are correct are set aside (this probably happens less than once per entire game in our experience!). The Dasher shuffles the answers and then reads them all out.
Each player (apart from the Dasher) guesses at which answer they think is correct. Players score two points for guessing the correct answer and one point for every other player who guessed that their answer was the real definition.
Should no player guess correctly, the Dasher scores three points. For every point scored, the players advance their pawns one “step” up the board. The box of cards moves one space clockwise, making the next player the Dasher for that round. The winner is the player to reach the top of the stairs first.
Pros and cons
Many excellent games rely on the players being willing to get the most from them. Beyond Balderdash is certainly not for everybody. People who just don’t “get it” or who lack confidence in their ability to write (or read out loud) will not enjoy this game at all.
It’s important to ensure that everybody writes very clearly. The Dasher will obviously be able to read their own handwriting, so if they struggle to decipher dodgy script, it will spoil the writer’s chance of their answer being chosen by the other players.
The most enjoyable aspect of the Beyond Balderdash game is the inventive answers that players come up with. The “famous” people are not in the world-class category: it’s unlikely, for example, that you’ll have heard of the inventor of diapers for parakeets.
Movie plots are our favourite category. We have kept some pieces of paper from Beyond Balderdash games of years ago, convinced that anybody writing a script based on these outlandish plots could not fail to attract attention from Hollywood producers!
The look on people’s faces when the Dasher reveals the correct answer — which so often seems to be the least probable one — is worth the price of admission alone.
Beyond Balderdash will test the patience of players who are on the fence about the concept. There’s an average learning curve, but for some we found that the idea was more intriguing than the reality. Once they understood what was expected of them, and how difficult the game can be, these players lost interest.
For most people, writing a shopping list is as challenging as their day-to-day life gets with a pencil and paper. Beyond Balderdash forces players to use skills which rarely get a workout in other environments. Some gamers will struggle as a result.
We found that a few beers can really loosen up people’s creative juices, making this a great game for smaller parties.
The great news is, in the right hands, Beyond Balderdash is a superb game. You wil rarely laugh as hard as you do at some people’s bizarre definitions.
Only the potential for disappointment (when some people are put off by the game) prevents us from giving it the maximum score possible.
Beyond Balderdash is an inventive game, both in its concept and gameplay. Recommended for ages 10 and up, we’d go so far as to extend that to 12 and up. Some of the skills required will be beyond many players, no matter what their age, while more than a few will wonder what the fuss is all about. For the rest of us, it’s a rare treat of a game.