Donkey: A silly spoons variant

One of my business partners saw this game being played at Origins and really loved the look of it, so after talking with the designer, she scored us a copy for the purpose of a review.  She was excited to get a game going, but upon describing it as being similar to spoons, we had a few wary people in our group.

You must understand that spoons is a game that has turned violent in my household before.  In one very memorable game of spoons, there was four of us playing.  I went for a spoon first and in the process slid all the other spoons into the lap of one player, a somewhat petite woman.   The other two people playing with us were full sized men. We are all good friends, so neither one even hesitated when the spoons started flying, to dive head first across the table straight into her lap, and on the floor they all went.  It’s funny in retrospect, but she now bows out of all games even remotely spoon-like.

When I did get a game of Donkey assembled, only two of the five of us had ever played spoons.   I read the directions allowed to everyone, which were thankfully short, and actually pretty darn funny.  We played a quick “basic” hand, without kicker cards, to get the non-spoon players into the swing of things, and then we were off.

This is the contents of donkey.  The black deck on the left is essentially a regular deck of cards (although they use colors rather then suits).  The red cards are the kicker cards.  The game also comes with seven disks to use instead of spoons, and a scorepad.

This is the contents of donkey. The black deck on the left is essentially a regular deck of cards (although they use colors rather then suits). The red cards are the kicker cards. The game also comes with seven disks to use instead of spoons, and a scorepad.

The kicker cards are what make the game of “Donkey” different from the game of “Spoons” (that and it’s actually played with disks instead of spoons).  Each turn a card is flipped over and read out loud.  These cards contain a challenge or rule variation.  For that round you will be playing under the modified rules stated on that card.  What are some of the cards like?  Well, the one that sticks out best in my mind caused everyone at the table to need to stand up and “do the twist” while playing their cards.  Super silly. However, some of them had more legitimate in game repercussions.  Such as the player who starts grabbing the discs should grab as many as possible, and everyone left standing without a disc loses that round.

The other stand out rule in Donkey is that no one is ever truly eliminated.  In a normal game of Spoons, you would be out if you lost enough rounds to spell out S-P-O-O-N-S.  In this game, if you spell out D-O-N-K-E-Y, you become the donkey and no one is allowed to talk to you, but you otherwise keep playing.  If someone does slip up and speak to you, they become a donkey as well.  You can stop being a donkey by having letters removed from your score through various means.

Overall, we had a lot of fun, however, the people that had played spoons before seemed a lot less impressed.  We even had a couple people pull up chairs and watch, and their consensus also was, “Isn’t this just spoons?”.   It’s not a new concept, so Donkey certainly doesn’t get points on originality.  The kicker cards and donkey rules made this version a lot more fun then a traditional game of spoons.   If you are a spoon lover, this might be a nice change of pace, but it’s still just spoons at it’s heart.  If you have never played spoons, then maybe this game is worth a try, if you don’t mind being silly and possibly ending up with men in your lap.

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Friday, July 22nd, 2011 at 7:39 am and is filed under Board Game Reviews, Skill Games . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


  1. Talisman says:

    This is a game I am interested in trying out. I have never played spoons before, so I am going to be very grateful of the simple rules. Overall this is a good review. But not due to your misappropriation of words, basically every time you even consider writing “then” stop, take a breath, and write “THAN” instead. It is very annoying, specially because you’re trying to do this as a “professional” but sound very amateurish when you write so incorrectly like that…

  2. Talisman,

    I’m glad to hear that you are interested in this game. The first mention of “spoons” in this article is a hyperlink to the basic rules of spoons, in case you missed it and would like to familiarize yourself.

    Thank you for your constructive criticism, and I’ll try to keep that in mind. I’m not a professional writer, I’m actually a computer programmer by day and a game enthusiast and entrepreneur by night. I have a small group of people that edit my blogs prior to publishing, but given the rapid pace of release, some things get overlooked. A writer is only as good as their editor.

    Thank you again for the constructive criticism and for reading, and I hope that you enjoy “Donkey”.

  3. Taliman says:

    I am glad to hear that you’re a programmer and NOT a writer! 0.o
    You circle of editors might start wanting to take their jobs more seriously…I understand they might be doing it as a favor or conjugal compromise, but as I understand it, you are getting games that cost money in return to make these reviews, so they might not be as pleased with the lack of scrutiny from your partners in crime.
    Sorry if I sound grumpy or malicious, I am just enchanted with your ideas as far as the game store goes, and would love to see it prosper to the point I get to sit in one of your events sometime and play a game or two

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