Forget Friends. Forget The Office. In our minds, the world’s greatest show was Parks and Recreation. We loved quirky Leslie Knope’s silly but sincere compliments. And we lived for anything that came out of Ron Swanson‘s mouth. Everything about Parks and Rec was fun, even during its searingly honest moments. No matter how silly or wild the show got, there was a realness and sincerity to each character that proved hard to ignore.
You can’t mention “silly or wild” aspects of Parks and Rec, though, without mentioning The Cones of Dunshire. After Leslie gets Ben fired from Sweetums, our favorite nerd has some time on his hands. You may remember the first time he was fired, which led to his subsequent foray into claymation. This time, however, he only had a week before starting his new job. So, his whims took him in a whole new direction — creating his own fun game. Behold, The Cones of Dunshire.
What is The Cones of Dunshire about?
It’s all about The Cones. To quote Ben, “Four cones wins, but in order to get a cone you have to build a civilization… which is where the Spirit Cards come in.” (The Parks And Rec writers clearly played on their love for the popular game Settlers of Catan when penning this episode.) If you’re wondering whether the cones are metaphors, we’ll defer to the game’s neurotic creator once more: “Well, yes and no.”
Where did it come from?
On Nov. 21, 2013, “The Cones of Dunshire” episode aired. It all started when Ben Wyatt became unemployed, and for a week he turned his obsessive energy into an incredibly detailed fantasy board game called The Cones of Dunshire. The first person he tells about his new creation is his wife, Leslie. He then leaves it as a parting gift for his accounting firm, and the rest is truly history.
Here’s what Dave King, co-producer of Parks and Rec and the writer of the episode, said about the game during an interview with Vulture:
“We knew that there was going to be a story point that Ben was going to have about a week off between jobs. The last time he was unemployed, he worked on Claymation, so we talked about making a sequel to (his Claymation short) Requiem for a Tuesday. But as soon as the idea came up for Ben to design his own Catan-like board game, I remember Mike Schur, our creator, and showrunner, was like, ‘Yes. That’s it. Absolutely.'”
Who can play?
This game was clearly invented pre-coronavirus. You need eight to 12 players to play. For those keeping track, that’s even more than it takes to play Catan.
- Ledgerman (basically the scorekeeper, but he gets to wear a “cool” hat)
- Two wizards
- One maverick
- One corporal
- One arbiter
- Two warriors*
Other Character Options
- So, so many more…
*You can play the game with just one warrior… but why? It’s not as much fun.
How do you play The Cones of Dunshire?
The rules are literally endless. Ben’s mind is like a labyrinth, and that’s never more truly obvious than when he explains The Cones of Dunshire. Even the uber-nerds at Gryzzl weren’t able to learn all the rules, which is why Ben was able to challenge them to a game, beat them, and subsequently earn free Wi-Fi for the entire town of Pawnee.
Is Cones of Dunshire a real game?
Bad news, nerds — you can’t actually buy Cones of Dunshire. After the success of the episode, coupled with the love for Parks And Rec, there were tons of rumors about a possible tangible game to buy. There was even a Kickstarter to fund the project.
Moreover, Settlers of Catan’s makers, who originally helped create Cones, were just as interested in the endeavor. In 2015, they developed a giant playable version of the game for GenCon. They auctioned off spots in the game, with all of the money going to charity. While many expected that it was only a matter of time before the game was mass-produced and made available for sale, it hasn’t come to fruition… yet.
Can you still play?
The rules are just so convoluted and never-ending that it seems impossible. Then again, New Girl fans ran into a similar roadblock with attempting True American, the drinking game played by the roommates on multiple occasions. Using some of the rules named in episodes and then filling in the blanks, though, fans have been able to play their own versions of True American.
There’s absolutely no reason you can’t do the same thing with Cones of Dunshire. With a little creativity, attention to detail, and a bit of determination, you could make your own Cones of Dunshire. After all, Ben’s original design literally featured spray-painted styrofoam cones. But if you pull it off, just please post pictures!
Ben Wyatt Quotes
Now, let’s hear from the man who started it all — Ben Wyatt. Although he’s a serious and organized worker, he has wild ways just like everyone else in the cast of Parks and Rec. Exhibit A: The creation of The Cones of Dunshire. To help you better understand the man behind the game, we’ve collected his most memorable quotes.
“No one’s ever asked me how my kids are or who’s taking care of them. By the way, who’s taking care of them?”
“I love how independent my wife is, and for that reason, I will not let her speak! That came out wrong.”
“I don’t even have time to tell you how wrong you are. Actually, it’s gonna bug me if I don’t.”
“Nerd culture is mainstream now! So, when you use the word ‘nerd’ derogatorily, that means that you’re the one that’s out of the zeitgeist!”
“No, of course, yeah. I’ll just put on my Star Wars pajamas and sit in my mom’s basement and pore over some spreadsheets. It sounds great.”
“I’m sorry. I have to ask this, but how many legs did that dog have when you found him?”
Ben Wyatt: “Can you be civil?”
Leslie Knope: “I am civil. He’s the stupid garbage head doo-doo face.”
Ben Wyatt: “That’s perfect.”