Malarky Gameby Myra Wolfe
Why don't the palms of our hands ever get sunburned?
Why do firehouses have Dalmatians?
Why are most pencils painted yellow?
Why do fingernails grow faster than toenails?
When you're playing Malarky, you don't have to know the answers to these questions -- or the hundreds of others like them. You do, however, have to be able to act like you do.
Three to six players (or more, if you play with teams) take turns answering one of these "Imponderable" questions. All but one are bluffing -- making something up that sounds as likely as possible. (Technical-sounding details help.) One player has been given the correct answer, which they give in their own words.
Everyone votes for the person whose answer they believe to be correct. Players are given a point for every vote they receive and a point for voting for the truth-teller. The game is over after an agreed-upon number of rounds, and whoever ends up with the most points wins.
We found the scoring relatively simple, but setting it up and learning how it all worked was cumbersome. It took a few practice runs before we stopped feeling annoyed by all the rules and started having fun.
Once the fun began, though, it began in earnest. When you play this game, you get to laugh. A lot. Players come up with unbelievably silly, hilarious, and ridiculous-sounding answers, and it's a serious hoot watching them try to keep a straight face. (Sometimes these ludicrous answers are actually the right ones.) Besides the comedy, it's fun learning the answers. I'd never thought to wonder about some of these things, but as soon as the question was asked, I was burning to know. Why don't people get goose bumps on their faces, anyway?
Malarky is recommended for ages 10 and up, and I think that's a good general guideline. Of course, some precocious eight-year-olds will be able to play, and if no one takes the game very seriously, a five-year-old might have fun with it. But some of the questions refer to deadly boring grownup stuff that most young kids will have trouble bluffing about. (How did the 1040 Federal Income Tax form get that number?) Fluent reading and quick creative thinking are required.