Switches: Game Modifiers

Switch It Up!


For any game of Johnball, there are limitless game modifiers that can be turned on or off. These game modifiers are called Switches– simple additions or variations that do not stand alone as a gametype, but rather add a fun extra element to any given gametype.

Before a game begins, you’ll want to make sure everyone is on the same page: announce the gametype and let everyone know what Switches are active (if you’re implementing any). For example, you might  say “The game is Free-For-All. Catch Me If You Can is turned ON, Power Bat has been turned OFF, and Dance Fever is optional, as always.”

In review: Switches are added elements that can be tacked on to any Johnball gametype, adding further variety to the gameplay. 

Switches are very easy to come up with, and are often pretty great when invented on the spot. So please, be creative and do some experimenting. Anyone can come up with a switch in half a second, but here are some much-beloved and well-established ones:




Catch Me If You Can

AKA The Catcher in the Rye, Ash Ketchum

If the ball comes off someone’s bat and an opponent catches it before it hits the ground (or anything else), the Johnballer who hit it loses a life (or any other number or predetermined lives). If desired, the catcher can also gain an extra life for snagging the ball.

Johnball gametype switch. Game type. snag the ball to drain a life. Phil Horn, Timm Uhlmann


Power Bat

At the beginning of a match, one Johnballer is chosen as the true wielder of the Bat of Power (any extra bat). This Johnballer gets to use the Bat of Power in addition to their normal bat. If that Johnballer gets hit, they must relinquish the Bat of Power to the Johnballer who hit them. And thus, the Power Bat will pass from mortal to mortal in a vicious cycle of greed and lust for power.

Obscure games, obscure sports, dodgeball with bats. Eric Franzen and Michael Polzin.

Oodles of new techniques and game dynamics become possible when dual-wielding comes into play.



When a Johnballer is has lost his or her last life, that Johnballer becomes a statue and must stand motionless in the spot where they last got hit. If that Johnballer catches a johnball, they are back in with one life, and the Johnballer who hit the ball loses a life. (Minimal motion, including pivoting, is allowed for statues.) Eliminated Johnballers can kick johnballs into active Johnballers to take away lives and feel better about their stony predicament.

Originally, Medusa was  solely a gametype. However, this “players-into-statues” element can work very well with numerous other gametypes.


Dance Fever

With this switch, all Johnballers are required to dance and get nonstop groovy for the duration of the game. Probably works better if music is present (so bring yo’ boombox to the playing field!) Dance fever is always and forever optional. But sometimes, it’s mandatory.

Get yo' groove on! Starring Dan Cahill, John Hilsen. Johnball is unadulterated ridiculousness.

Dance like no one’s watching.


Boom! Headshot

Headshots now take away multiple lives (or all!)

This is an especially nice Switch to turn on after being endlessly annoyed and flustered with the nonsenical rule in dodgeball that headshots don’t count.  If you ever want a great example for abuse of power, just watch a gymnasium of kids incessantly  yelling “NUH-UH, I’M NOT OUT! THAT HIT ME IN THE HEAD!”



When you hit someone in the face/head, not only does your opponent lose a life, but you also gain one. What a deal!

It can be a lot of fun to do Sniper or Boom! Headshot in conjunction with Catch Me If You Can. This way, people will be aiming high in an effort to reap the added bonuses of headshots, but the high-flying balls are easier to catch. The tables are quickly turned if their intended target catches one!


Hunger Games

A Switch that’s most definitely inspired by the popular novel and film (unless that results in some kind of copyright infringement, in which case all resemblances are purely accidental).

“Hunger Games” is an alternate way to start any game of Johnball. Instead of all Johnballers congregating in a starting circle, all bats and balls are placed in a pile in the middle of the field, with all players forming a circumference around it. Once the game starts, it’s a guaranteed bloodbath.

Stout Johnball Student Club. Game variant inspired by Katniss and her adventures. Christian Ludwig, Jack Lazorik, Kelvin Smith, Jake Wetzel, Carly Lorenz.

If you ever film this, make sure you circumvent the MPAA’s rating system by implementing a super shaky camera to obscure any violence involving teens.


 The Boromir Rule

AKA Boromir Redemption Party, “It’s Miller Time” after originator Tim Miller
Boromir vs Lurtz. Lord of the Rings. Played by Sean Bean, who always dies.

Make your last stand, Boromir-style.

If you are hit (or down to your last life), you drop to your knees. If you are able to hit someone else out from that position, you can rise up again, but if you are hit while on your knees, you are out for good.


Harvey Dent

 AKA Two-Face

Once a johnballer depletes all of his or her lives, they are not necessarily out of the game. Instead, they will pay a visit to Harvey Dent, who will determine their fate via a coin-flip. The johnballer will approach Harvey and fall prostrate in front of the maniacal villain,  pleading for their life. Two-Face acts with expected cruelty and flips a coin.

Heads, the johnballer is back in with one life.

Tails, they’re done for good.

The nefarious execution is preferably carried out with a Nerf Gun, but such theatrics are up to you.  With this Switch, johnballers can go on playing for quite some time if they continue to be subject to lucky coin tosses.


The Batman villain is out from Arkham Asylum and terrorizing not Gotham but the game of Johnball.

The Two-Face mask isn’t mandatory, but it does really add significant production value and dramatic tension.

If you’re Two-Face, don’t forget some to utter some of his lines from The Dark Knight in a menacing and growly voice:

“You’re not playing your odds!”
“You wanna play games?”
“Heads- you get to keep your head. Tails… not so lucky.”

You could also classify Harvey Dent as a full-fledged gametype. But this coin-flip of destiny can be applied to any existing gametype, giving it the functionality of a Switch.