Punderdome is an intriguing little game based on a real-life pun competition of the same name. The game does its best to emulate the full effect of the original ‘game show.’ Consequently, the rules are a bit more complex than you’d find in your usual pick up and play party games. There are multiple rounds to be played, prizes to be won, and challenging prompts from which you’ll need to create your puns.
The basic idea behind the game is pretty simple. You’re given two cards with two different prompts and from those you’ll need to come up with the best pun possible. That may seem easy but it can quickly become difficult, especially when you get some clues that really just have nothing to do with one another.
To quote the example card included with the game, you can get combinations like ‘Michael Jackson’ and ‘Fishing’ or ‘Light Fixtures’ and ‘Dying.’ If you’re good at coming up with puns you might already have some ideas in your head for these. But if you’re not good at puns (like me) even the example answers they provide can be somewhat daunting.
Mix in the multiple rounds, differing time limits, and other added rules and the game can get complicated. And that’s before you even start thinking about prizes, which the host would be on the hook to provide. The rules joke that prizes can be anything from pocket change to the last beer, but it adds a sense of obligation that at the very least is an unnecessary complication. It’s a lot of potential prep for a party game.
All that said, that doesn’t mean Punderdome is bad game by any means.
It’s just takes more planning than your usual card-based party game.
The great thing about it, though, is that it lends itself to a lot of house rule variations. If you don’t want to play by the rules you can come up with your own ways to utilize the cards and core elements of the game.
There are 200 different cards – 100 of them green and 100 of them white – and each contains a different prompt, be it a person, action, location, etc. On the back they each have entertaining pun-tastic jokes that you’ll definitely want to read through. They serve a purpose in the actual game rules but honestly I’ve just gone through and read them for the fun of it.
So far, I’ve had the most fun when playing it in rounds, much like Superfight or Apples to Apples. Everyone can take their own two cards, everyone can try to make puns based off of two communal cards, or everyone can try to make the best pun based on their own green cards and a communal white card. You can play with judges or rules as a group. You don’t have to assign points or have prizes. You can just play with the cards however you want in whatever way seems most fun.
Basically, Punderdome is a complicated game if you play by the rules and no matter how you play it may be difficult. Puns come easier to some people than they do others. If you’ve got a lot of friends who really enjoy puns then by all means pick this one up.
However, if you’re looking to have this replace any of your usual party games just be prepared for not everyone to enjoy it. And maybe come up with some easier, more streamlined house rules beforehand rather than sticking to the official rules.
Don’t be afraid to give Punderdome a chance – but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t appeal to everyone either!