Bonkers! (game)

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Original 1978 Parker Brothers version of Bonkers!
Publisher(s) Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley
Players 2-4
Random chance High (dice rolling, card drawing)

Bonkers! (also known as This Game is Bonkers!) was a race-style board game designed by Paul J. Gruen and produced by Parker Brothers and later by Milton Bradley. The object was to be the first player to score 12 points by adding instruction cards to the empty spaces in an attempt to move to several scoring stations. The game's slogan (for both versions) was "It's Never the Same Game Twice!"


The original 1978 Parker Brothers game board of Bonkers!

Each game of Bonkers! came with the following:

  • a gameboard
  • four pawns
  • a stack of cardboard track cards
    • 2 each of the following "Back" cards
      • 1 through 6, 10, 12
    • 2 each of the following "Ahead" cards
      • 1 through 6, 10, 12
    • 2 each of the following special cards
      • Go to Nearest Score
      • Roll Again
      • Go to Start
      • Exchange Cards
  • a score card with plastic peg markers
  • four large "Go to Lose" cards
  • two dice

The board consisted of a 55-space looping track. Most of these spaces had an outline of a track card next to it, the cards being played throughout the game; there were also three "Score" stations (one of which doubled as the starting point), a "Lose" space, two track spaces marked "Go to Lose", and one space marked "Back 15".

As the original Bonkers! was produced in the late 1970s, the board and game pieces accordingly had a disco styled text and motif. When Milton Bradley revived the game in the early 1990s, the board was made to appear as if the entire track and logo were made out of modeling clay; a few humorous caricatures of human faces (also made from clay) were placed in the logo and on the board as well. The game was also given a fluorescent color scheme, updated fonts, and different styled dice and pawns from the original.

Gameplay (Parker Brothers version)[edit]

The game started with each player being dealt four track cards and a large "Go to Lose" card, and placing their pawns on the scoring space marked "Start". On a turn, a player rolled the dice, and moved the corresponding number of spaces shown. If the space was empty, the player placed a card in the outline next to that space; if already occupied by a card, the player followed the instructions on that card. A player's turn ended if landing on a space marked "Score" (scoring 1 point), the space marked "Lose" (deducting 1 point), or on an unmarked space after playing one card. At the end of a turn, the player drew another card, and the next player took his or her turn.

Most of the track cards had a number between 1 and 12, as well as the direction for the player to travel. The track was a loop; as pawns traveled counterclockwise along the loop, "ahead" cards moved the pawn accordingly, and "back" cards moved clockwise. Other cards included "Roll Again", "Go to Nearest 'Score'", "Go to Start", and "Exchange Cards" (in which the player swapped the Exchange card for any other card currently on the track.)

If a space was occupied by another pawn, the player rolled again after drawing a new track card.


The object of the game was to play track cards in a way that directed one's pawn to a "Score" space, upon which the scorekeeper moved that player's peg ahead one point. A player could also score by rolling a 12, or by means of "Entrapment": If the player's pawn ended in a continual loop (for example, ahead 2/ahead 3/back 5), that player was said to be "trapped", at which point his or her pawn was left on the space at the "front" of the trap, and the player scored one point.

The Lose Space[edit]

There was one space on the board marked "Lose". If a player landed on this space, he or she lost one point, and his or her turn ended immediately (even if the space was already occupied by one or more pawns.) There were two spaces on the back side of the track that also sent the player directly to "Lose". In addition, each player had a large "Go to Lose" card; at any point in a player's turn, an opponent could use this card against that player to force him or her to go to the Lose space immediately. Once a large "Go to Lose" card was played, it was removed from the game. At no time could a player's score drop below zero.


The first player to score 12 points won the game.

Rule changes (Milton Bradley version)[edit]

When Milton Bradley began producing Bonkers!, there were several minor rules changes:

  • Cards marked "Exchange Cards" could now only be switched with a track card directly to the left or to the right of the Exchange card.
  • Entrapment was now referred to as "Going Bonkers"; if a player got caught in a loop, s/he moved his/her pawn ahead to the nearest Score space (instead of the "ahead" card) and scored one point.
  • The "Go to Nearest Score" card was replaced with a "Go Ahead to Score" card (possibly to reduce ambiguity in the game.)

Other than these small changes, and the cosmetic update to the game, Bonkers! remained virtually unchanged from the first version.

External links[edit]