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  • 314 Malarky Cards
  • 6 Bluff Cards
  • 42 Voting Chips
  • 6 Concealing Folders
  • 1 Scorepad
  • 1 Die
  • Rulebook

Things you need to know and things you don't

The questions presented in Malarky aren't boring old trivia questions. Oh no. They are the little mysteries of everyday life that we sometimes think about but rarely solve, like why don't we ever see baby pigeons?

They are Imponderables. David Feldman, the author of the Imponderables books, has been compiling, researching, and writing about these mysteries for more than ten years. He is our authority.

If you can guess or figure out the answers to his Imponderables, that's good. But if you can convincingly make up your own answers, so much the better!

No, you don't need to know the answers to do well at Malarky. You just need to make people believe that you do!

In a Nutshell

A question is read aloud to all players. One player, chosen randomly and without anyone knowing who will be given the correct answer. All the other players think of possible answers.

Next, every player presents his or her answer aloud, as convincingly as possible. Each player then votes for the answer they think is correct.

Object of the Game

To score more points than your opponents. You score points in two ways:

  1. Present an answer that's so convincing you get other players to vote for you.

  2. See through all the bluffs and vote for the correct answer.


Each player takes one black chip and one Concealing Folder. Each player chooses a different color chip (non-black) to represent him- or herself. Each player takes as many of these colored chips as there are players in the game.

For example, if you chose red, and there are four players in the game, you would take four red chips.

All players put one of their colored chips in front of them, so everyone can always see which color represents each player. Then each player hands one of his or her colored chips to every other player. (When done, each player has one black chip, one colored chip from every player, and one of his or her own colored chips in front of them).

Put away any remaining chips and Concealing Folders- they will not be used in the game. Write the name of each player on the Scorepad.

Take the Bluff Cards out from the end of the card box. They are numbered 315-320. Place one in each Concealing Folder (answer side up), but leave one Concealing Folder empty.

This single empty Concealing Folder will hold the real answer during play. Any remaining Bluff Cards can also be put away.

Game Play

  1. Players determine who will be the Host for the first round. As every player will host the same number of times, there is no advantage or disadvantage to hosting first.

    The Host rolls the die and picks a Malarky card from the Draw end of the card box. Malarky cards have three Imponderable questions on one side, and their corresponding answers on the other.

    The Host reads aloud the Imponderable question corresponding to the number rolled (1,2 or 3). The Host must take care not to reveal the answer on the back of the card to any player, even him- or herself! Part of the fun of Malarky is that no one knows who will end up holding the correct answer.

    The Host reads the Imponderable question aloud a second time to make sure that the question is understood by everyone. If any player does not understand the question, this is the time to speak up! At this point, all players should begin to think of possible bluff answers to the question.

  2. The Host opens the empty Concealing Folder from the "Question" side of the folder and carefully slides the Malarky card "Question side up" into the slot provided.

    (see illustration below)

  3. The Host gathers the Concealing Folders and shuffles them out of the sight of the players. The Concealing Folders are then passed to the player to the left of the Host for reshuffling.

  4. Next, each player picks a Concealing Folder from the Host. All players open their Concealing Folders from the Answer Side and carefully check the numbered answer (1, 2, or 3) corresponding to the question asked at the start of the round.

    One player will be holding the real answer, and all others will be holding Bluff Cards. The Bluff Cards have instructions informing the player holding them to think up a believable bluff answer.

  5. The players with the Bluff Cards are getting ready to present bluff answers to the Imponderable question that has been read. Meanwhile, the player with the real answer is thinking about how best to put the answer into his or her own words.

  6. After an agreed amount of time (we suggest one minute), the Host calls for everyone to close their folders. The Host then offers his or her answer. Play continues in a clockwise direction as all the bluffs and the correct answer is presented.

    Important - Repeat answers are not allowed

    If someone uses the answer you thought of, before your turn comes, you must present another answer. It's a good idea to have a BACK- UP BLUFF ready (or maybe two!) A player is allowed to vary his or her answer slightly from one already presented.

    By altering one clear fact, for example, a player differentiates his or her answer. If anyone feels that a player has essentially repeated the answer of another player, he or she may challenge the second player, and all the other players vote whether the second answer is too similar.

    In the case of an even vote, the Host breaks the tie. If the second answerer is judged "guilty" he or she is disqualified from participating in that question.

  7. If you are holding the real answer you must familiarize yourself with it and put it into your own words. You will not have the opportunity to simply read it aloud.

    Also Important

    It is possible that when you have been given the Concealing Folder with the real answer, another player may offer the real answer before it is your turn to speak.

    When it is your turn, you must now present a bluff (since repeat answers are not allowed). Presenting a bluff answer because you were forced to is called a "Malarky". Although being forced into a Malarky involves quick thinking, you will be rewarded if you are successful. More about this later.

  8. A new Host directs each round, with play passing clockwise.


  1. After all the answers are presented, players vote secretly for the player they feel presented the real answer. Players vote by taking the colored chip that represents the player they are voting for and putting it in their closed fist in the center of the table.

    When all the players' fists are on the table, the Host starts the count of "1-2-3". On the count of 3, all players open their hands to reveal their votes.

  2. Players cannot vote for themselves. You must use the black chip to vote if you presented the real answer off the Malarky card.

    Occasionally, when it's your turn to give a bluff answer, you may feel certain that you know the correct answer to the Imponderable question and that no one has yet presented it. If so, you can present your answer and then later vote with an empty hand.

    Note: An incorrect answer while voting with an empty hand will cost you a two-point penalty.

    (see Scoring)

  3. If you were holding the real answer but were forced into a Malarky, you vote with the colored chip of the player who presented the correct answer before your turn came.

    This means that no one will be holding a black chip when the votes are revealed. Everyone will realize that someone bluffed the real answer and that a Forced Malarky has occurred. Only then may you reveal who presented the real answer.


  • +1: A player earns one point for every vote his or her answer receives (whether it is the real answer or a bluff answer).

  • +1: A player earns one point for voting for the real answer.

  • +2: A player who was forced into a Malarky receives two points for each vote he or she receives.

  • -2: A player who voted with an empty hand will have two points deducted if his or her answer is wrong.

Note: No points are earned by voting with a black chip or an empty hand. A player must hope to collect votes by presenting his or her answer in a convincing manner.

End of the Game

The winner is the player with the highest point total after an agreed-upon number of rounds. We suggest that with three or four players, each player Host three times.

With more players, two Hosting rounds by each is better. Toward the end of the game, a player may not receive any votes because he or she is close to winning. This allows others to catch up, assuring a climactic finish almost every game.


If there is a tie, one more Imponderable will be asked, but only these two players will compete. Each player rolls the die. The player with the higher number chooses whether he or she wishes to "give" or "receive" the Imponderable question.

The player who gives will draw a card and read the question corresponding to the highest number rolled. The giver will then look at the correct answer on the back of the card and has one minute to present either the real answer or a bluff.

The receiver must decide whether or not the giver's answer is correct. The receiver will either win or lose the game depending on his or her decision.

Game Strategies

  • Make your answer stand out from the others by including weird "facts", names and places.

  • When holding a Concealing Folder with a bluff card, don't stare off into space thinking of an answer. You should pretend to be reading and putting the answer into your own words.

  • If you are holding the real answer, there's no need to memorize the card verbatim. Put it in your own words, but make the answer as accurately as possible. It's also a good idea to have a bluff ready in case you are forced into a Malarky while holding the real answer.

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