Thursday, September 18, 2008

#65: Monkey Mission

  • designer: Gunter Baars
  • publisher: Ravensburger
  • date: 2003
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: not rated/5.53
  • age: 7+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: OOP
  • cost: $18.99 (Canadian E-bay)
The whole "game plays in the box" thing is a lot of fun - and you'll see that again on Kid Games 100 list. It works esp. well for Monkey Mission, what with the slowly turning stone doors that drop down into the floor & the 3-D cavern outlines in genuine molded plastic - I feel like I'm back in the early 80's again.

But for all the Indiana Jones trappings & theme, this is really a push-your-luck game that rewards a good memory & a willingness to take appropriate risks. In turn, each player rolls the die & moves the adventurer (a shared piece) to one of the cave openings. Each cave contains little plastic monkeys (OK - thematically, they're made of precious substances, but they're actually plastic) and a stone door, which is a plastic wheel set into the game board with 12 notches. The player then chooses to turn the wheel 1, 2, or 3 notches, announces that choice & then turns the wheel.

If the wheel drops, the player receives the monkey & the "objective card" (visible to all the players) that specifies a monkey color that's worth an extra point. The value of the monkey is also noted on the card - if you got the monkey by announcing a 1 notch move, he's worth 3 pts; 2 notches = 2 pts; and 3 notches = 1 point. So, you can open doors quickly but risk getting lower points... or go slow for the big points but risk being left in the dust by the quicker players.

There are also snakes in the objective card deck - if one is turned up, players in turn choose a wheel to turn one notch. When a player makes a wheel drop, he gets the snake - which is worth -1 point at the end of the game. (Yes, it's Hot Potato with plastic wheels.)

Players also receive 4 "power sticks" - they allow you to move the adventurer more or less than you roll for each stick spent... or to move a wheel one notch per stick spent. You've only got four of them - so use them wisely! (The "power sticks" are the one bad design element in the game - they are rounded sticks, which means they don't sit still on the table unless it's perfectly level. Name the last time you saw a perfectly level table.)

The game ends when a player gets X number of monkeys (X depends on the number of players.)

Children as young as 4 can play this with adult supervision - I think the age rating is for unsupervised play.

I'm glad I found a copy of this - it's fun to play & has some tactical decisions to make, as well as rewarding players who're paying attention.

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