Bluffing Word Game

Written & Designed By William F. Bultas

Required Equipment: A dictionary, several pieces of paper, & pens or pencils. To save paper, cut the sheets into several sections.

Instructions: This simple word game is suitable for 2 or more players ages 10 & above. You may print out, copy, & distribute these rules. If you wish to publish them, please contact the author for permission.

This game is loosely based on the game Balderdash®, which I understand is now out of print (but click here for the game Beyond Balderdash). I own a copy of Balderdash®, & have enjoyed playing it with family & friends for many years. I have found that geeks like myself are not the only ones who enjoy Balderdash®. Some fairly "normal" individuals also seem to like it, & so I hope this game will provide you with some fun as well. I have also created a quiz that follows in the tradition of Balderdash® & this game.

To begin the game, randomly choose 1 player to be the Bluffer. This player goes through the dictionary & chooses a word that will be the basis for the first round of the game. The Bluffer should look for an obscure word, & would also do well to use a word that has few definitions, or only 1 definition. The Bluffer then reads the word aloud, & repeats it, if necessary, along with slowly spelling the word aloud. The other players write the word down, & get to work creating definitions for the word. If a player believes he or she knows the true meaning of the word, he or she may want to write this meaning down. Otherwise, a definition should be created that each player believes the other players are likely to think is the actual definition. Meanwhile, the Bluffer writes down the (or one of the) actual definition for the word, exactly as it appears in the dictionary. On a separate sheet of paper, the Bluffer writes down a fictitious definition for the word. This definition cannot be the same or even close to the actual definition for the word, & should instead be created to mislead the other players into believing that it is the correct definition. When all of the players are finished creating their definitions, they turn them in to the Bluffer, who reads through them (important, because it will be obvious that the Bluffer did not write a definition if he or she has trouble reading a definition aloud due to the handwriting), shuffles them, & then reads each definition aloud (multiple times, if necessary). When the players have all decided which definition they believe to be correct definition, they each vote for a definition, beginning with the player sitting clockwise from the Bluffer. A player may vote for his or her own definition to throw other players off, but will not receive any points for such a vote. The Bluffer is not allowed to vote.

When each player has voted, the Bluffer reveals the true definition of the word, & who created each of the false definitions. Points are awarded as follows: Any player who submitted a definition that is identical or very close to one of the definitions for the word that can be found in the dictionary receives 3 points. If any players disagree about a definition being "close to" the actual one, no points are awarded for the definition being close. 1 point is awarded for each vote a player's definition receives. 3 points are awarded to the Bluffer if no one votes for the correct definition. After points are tallied, the player sitting clockwise from the Bluffer becomes the new bluffer. The first player to accumulate 20 points wins.

This game can be a lot of fun, & it can also be educational. The Bluffing Word Game can be played at parties, on car trips, during bad weather when going out doesn't seem like a good idea, etc. Feel free to modify the rules if doing so suits your needs. Enjoy!