Designer: David Harvey
Publisher: Competo , Marektoy
2-4 players 10 min. ages 8+ MSRP $60
Bonk is a fast paced game of dexterity and daring feats of physics. Using a rotating wooden slide and a few little metal balls, your team’s goal is to knock a wooden ball from its perch in the center of the board into the opposing team’s goal.
Bonk feels like a pub game from a bygone era. The game itself is a beautiful wooden box with four angled areas marked with wooden barriers. Two angled areas at each end point toward a goal, which is a gap containing a small wooden ‘nose’ a small arrow shaped block that will guide the scoring ball to the edge of the board.
Each angled area has a hole in the board. This hole is for the large wooden slide each player will use to play the game. The slides are tall and black and remind me of a part of a roller coaster, the part where you are just coming down the hill and screaming your head off. They also remind me of the big water slides or blanket slides you see at county fairs. The slide has a groove for the metal balls to whizz down and onto the board. The base of the slide is round and there’s a peg that you’ll place into the hole in one of the angled areas so that you can rotate the slide in all directions.
There are 12 metal balls, 6 for each team and one larger wooden ball, the ball you’ll try to hit during the game.
Bonk is played over a series of rounds. Each round, you and your teammate slide metal balls down your wooden slides attempting to knock a wooden ball into the goal on the other side of the board. When one team scores, you get a point and reset. The first team to five wins.
To begin, everyone high fives and all balls are left on the edge of the board. Once the high fives are done (some might want to shout BONK !) then the mayhem begins !
Pick up a ball, place it at the top of your slide, rotate your slide to aim, and whoosh let the ball roll down and into play. Hopefully it will knock into the ball but very often you will miss, so it’s lather rinse and repeat. The problem is you have a very limited number of balls, so if you go for the rapid fire approach, you may end up giving all the balls to the other team. If you go to slow, you may lose before you have your first shot lined up. Each round is a bit of glorious controlled chaos that is the essence of silly fun. You might be laughing too much or watching the ball bounce around and even forget to keep shooting.
The sheer novelty and creativity of Bonk certainly sets it apart from most games. Not often you get to hone your skills at rolling balls down a slide hoping to nail a target and make it move.
But that’s just the start. There’s one element I have forgotten to mention.
The wooden game board, the playing surface itself is not flat ! It is curved, meaning the board is basically a small hill. The crest of the hill is the center of the board (where the wooden ball starts) so t he board slowly slopes downward toward each team’s goal.
This means the wooden ball just needs the slightest nudge to start rolling downhill toward a goal and the angled beams that defined each players slide area serve a second purpose, they will guide the ball down toward the goal like a funnel.
You might think this means the first team to even touch the ball will score. Not so ! The board is big enough that you have time to react at least once or twice unless the shot has perfect aim.
Bonk is definitely a game where the more your practice and play with the slides, the better you get and the more you’ll see the potential for crazy angled shots.
Without the time pressure the curved board provides, a game round in Bonk could drag on with players chasing the ball from corner to corner without scoring. With the curved board and angled beams toward the goal, each round is a frenzy of activity leaving you wanting to set up and try again.
Bonk is engaging. Just seeing it on a table makes you want to play.
It just looks fun! And it delivers on that promise again and again.
There’s no barrier to entry with Bonk. Anyone can play. And that unlocks a special kind of fun you can share with everyone. And there certainly are not enough great games that do this.
Just sit down and give it a go. Whether or not you knock the ball around on your first try or your fifteenth, just the act of sending the balls down the slide is reward enough to make you want to keep playing.
This makes Bonk Major Fun of the highest and simplest order. Fun you can share with anyone, any time. The only winning that really matters with Bonk is that you play. You win any time you play, whether you ever score a point.