Classic Gametypes

There’s endless different ways to play Johnball. Here are the most popular gametypes.



The original and most basic way to play Johnball, and still the most popular.

It’s every man/woman/robot/child/robot-child for themselves. Johnballers have between 2-4 lives, depending on how quickly you want the game to finish and how many people are playing. Once you lose all your lives, you are eliminated. The last person standing wins.

Once the game dwindles down to just two or three remaining players, it’s often a good idea for everyone to circle up around those final combatants (just as you would in Ringed 1-on-1). This will wrap up the game faster while increasing the excitement and drama of it all.

Obscure, invented bat and ball game Johnball. A sport for all ages, created in Lakeville, MN. Being played here in a Minneapolis public park.

Utter chaos.


Pair up with a partner to see who is the most dynamic duo on the battlefield.

Partners can share a bank of lives or have their own separate lives. You can play Doubles as 2-on-2

Special Starting Rules: Stand in a circle and introduce your partner to the group. It’s required that you must say one thing you like about him or her. There’ll be a surge in self-esteem all around- and it’ll surely boost you and your teammates’ synergy on the battlefield.

A new sport of wiffle ball bats and large vinyl balls. It's extreme dodgeball. Two-on-two.



AKA  “Spot the Communist”

Protect your leader at all costs.

Johnballers are broken down into teams of 3-5. Each team selects one of their members to be the “VIP” and keeps the identity a secret from the other teams. The VIP only has 1 life, and if he or she is hit, their entire team is eliminated. The other members of the group have 3-5 lives each. These “guards” do not cause the whole team to be eliminated if their lives are depleted.
Special starting rules: To start a game of VIP, each team must come up with a team name and charity. The team name requires alliteration. (Examples from the past: The Mushroom Kingdom Monster Trucks, The Tinker Town Toddler Ticklers, The St. Louis Self-Esteems, The Bethlehem Ben-Haters.) The charity is a fictional organization that you will give your $2000 of fictional winnings to if you win. (Examples: Carpeting the world. Free foot massages for all North American citizens. Fruitsnacks for Ireland.) To begin, stand in a circle, and the team captains will introduce the members of the group, as well as the team name and charity. (If someone says “and who’s your VIP?”, don’t even think about answering.)



Favorite gametype of English teachers worldwide

This gametype is a lot like Free-For-All, except the winner is decided on a points-based basis rather than just being the last one standing.

Begin by choosing a noun. Any noun.  You’ll have two numbers to keep track of this game: 1) how many lives you have and 2) how many nouns you have. Your lives will go down every time you get hit, your nouns will go up every time you hit someone else.  (If the noun chosen is moustache, you get one moustache every time you hit someone. We use a different noun each game because just calling it “points” would be lame)
If you are the last remaining player, you receive the bonus of having you leftover lives are transformed into nouns. The game ends when all but one player have been elimated- though that last person standing isn’t necessarily the winner. The winner of the game will be the Johnballer who harvested the most nouns, regardless of when they were elimated.


Wells Fargo

It’s team-up time.

In this gametypes, teams will share a BANK (get it?) of lives. Teams can be any size (though when there are teams of two, it is usually referred to as a Doubles game). When one member of the team gets hit, the team’s bank of lives drops by one. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have while referencing a bank.


Ringed 1-on-1

AKA  Cage Match,  Ring of Death,  Circle of Death, Thunderdome


A gametype that has a tendency to awaken your inner gladiator instinct of old.

Split the group into two teams and assemble into a large ring. Only two players will be inside the ring at any given time, one from each team. The duo will battle each other one on one, with one life each. When someone gets hit, the next player from that team jumps in, following the order of teammates around the semi-circle. Your team wins once all players from the opposing team have been depleted.

Inactive players standing in the circle are called the Wall. They should do their best to keep the ball in the ring and be ready to toss other johnballs in when needed. When a ball bounces off the Wall into an active player, it does not count as a hit. Johnballers are only eliminated when they are hit by the other active player or by running into the ball on their own accord.

circle of death cagematch john ball

Inside this ring, heroes are made.

Special starting rules: The two starting players meet in the center of the ring, with a ball in between them. The dead center. Each player puts the bat in their left hand, crosses their right arm across their chest, crosses their left foot over their right and puts their bat on the right side of the ball. Someone, anyone, counts down “3-2-1- Johnball!” and it begins.




The ageless battle of humans vs. the flesh-devouring infected.

No, this isn't COD, ya dingus. It's Johnball, the most beautiful thing in the galaxy.

An alpha zombie attacks the human phalanx.

The game begins with a small number of  “alpha” zombies (usually 1-4 of them with maybe 2-3 lives, it all depends on the total number of players). Zombies are marked by being shirtless or some other identifier- armbands work well- and they should also be easily identified because, you know, they’re acting like zombies. The alpha zombies begin the game with possession of the balls and begin to stumble towards the humans, who are probably forming a phalanx out of sheer terror. When a human is hit by a ball, they have become infected.  They’ll transmogrify into a zombie are now fighting for the zombie cause. Converted zombies have just one life. Once they’re hit, they’re neutralized, out of the game. The goal of the humans is to eradicate the zombies and save the world. The goal of the zombies is to spread the infection to every last human and forever annihilate humanity.


Note: It is essential that all zombies act like zombies, make zombie noises, speak little English besides “BRAAAINS”, and lose any trace of the humanity that once sparkled within them before they were infected.



No need to stop here. Enlighten yourself by checking out More Gametypes.