Monkeys on the Moon
List Price: $19.95
Your Price: $15.95
(Worth 1,595 Funagain Points!)
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from 6 customer reviews
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Monkeys on the Moon is the absolutely silly game of players attempting to curry favor from different tribes of monkeys who are technologically improving to the point where they will rocket off the moon. As humorous and silly as the game sounds, this auction game is actually clever and unique, as players first bid on monkeys of different factions then attempt to increase the rating of the different tribes. Different monkey factions are at odds with each other, and helping one tribe will incur the wrath of another; so a player must watch who they throw their lot in with. To win, players must wheedle their way through the fragile alliances of the monkeys and have the most monkeys off the moon of the farthest advanced of the tribes. A lot of fun and humor is packaged in this small box.
Occasionally there are games that Im interested in playing, based solely on their names. This is definitely the case with the games that come from the strangely named company Eight Foot Llama. Monkeys on the Moon (Eight Foot Llama, 2002 Jim Doherty) had such an odd, interesting name that we were anxious to see how it played.
And the verdict? Monkeys on the Moon has one of the silliest themes I have ever seen, yet it has some very good mechanics that warrant additional plays. This is a very fun game , especially with three or four players, and I think it will hit our table many, many times. Let me explain more about the game to you.
Six monkey faction cards (each denoted by a color) are shuffled, and placed in a circle face up. This circle shows basic monkey faction relations: Each monkey faction is allies with the two cards adjacent to them, and bitter enemies with the card that is opposite them in the circle. A stack of Civilization cards (after removing some from the game) is shuffled and placed in the middle of this circle, after having dealt two cards to each player. A Tribe track is laid on the table, with twenty-six spaces on it, and a wooden cube for each color tribe is placed on it at the start position. A pile of tribe favor coins (wooden discs) of each color is formed in the middle of the table, after giving each player one of every color coin. Six monkey Scorn cards, one for each tribe, are placed in the center, as well as two shuffled decks the monkey deck and ship deck. Each deck has a pool of face up cards, with two cards in the ship pool, and one more than players in the game in the monkey pool. Each player receives one ship face up in front of them, and the game is ready to begin. The player with longest hair goes first, and takes a glass stone, indicating this fact.
Each turn is made up of three parts. The first part is the Civilization turn. Beginning with the start player, each player plays one Civilization card, and draws one card. Each Civilization card played moves the monkey tribes cube on the track the amount of spaces on the card. For example, the card Purple tribe can use an Egg Beater moves the purple cube forward two spaces on the track, or one of the purple tribes allies cubes two spaces. The player then receives two favor coins from the color tribe that he helped, but must then pay one favor coin to the bank of the tribe who is the rival of that tribe. If the player does not have a coin of that tribe, they then must take that tribes Monkey Scorn card. If the player already has the monkey scorn card, then he must pay one coin of one of their allies colors. This sounds a bit confusing, but works rather well in game play. If a player advances a tribe of which he holds the monkey scorn card, he loses the card (they like him again.)
After this phase, the Bidding phase occurs. Each monkey in the monkey pool is from one of the tribes, and is worth from three to five points. In turn order, each player picks a monkey from the monkey pool to bid on. Players can only bid coins from that monkeys tribes color, or from its allies. Allied coins are worth 2 points, while the monkeys tribes coins are worth three points. Bidding goes around the table, until all players but one pass. The winning bidder pays those coins to the bank and loads the monkey on his ship.
Each ship has room for a certain amount of monkeys (2 to 4), and is associated with a color. When a player fills their ship with that amount of monkeys, the full ship launches. Every monkey on the ship is placed to the side they will count towards that player at the end of the game, and the ship is also placed aside it is worth a certain amount of victory points (1 to 3). Monkeys from rival tribes refuse to ride in the same ship. If a player boards a monkey that is a rival to a monkey already on the ship, then the ship launches, unfull. The player still keeps the monkey, but must discard the ship, getting no victory points. In both cases, the player takes a new ship from the victory pool, and receives one coin of the color of the ship (that monkey tribe is awed at the shiny thing flying in the sky).
In the final phase of a turn, the start stone is passed to the players left, the monkey pool is refilled, and another round is started. This continues until the last Civilization card is played. At this point, the monkey tribe that is farthest on the track is placed in the first scoring position, and the second in the second position, and so on. If a monkey cube finishes the track before the game is over, it was to be automatically placed on the highest available spot. Each player then totals the amount of points they have of the monkeys of each color. Whichever player has the most points gets the first number on victory points on the scoring position, and the second most points gets the second number, and everybody else gets squat. Each player also gets bonus points for any full ships they launched, and loses points for each Monkey Scorn they have. Whichever player has the most points is the winner!
Some comments on the game:
1). Components: I was very pleased with the components in this game. The cards are of excellent quality, and have funny, childrenesque artwork on them. The wooden cubes and discs were really nice the wooden discs look like they came from a craft store, but they are some of the most functional coins I have ever used in a game, and I hope other companies pick this idea up. The board was a bit bland, but it was easy to see the colorful cubes on it, so no complaints there. Everything fits nicely in a small box that has very nice design elements and is very sturdy. Overall, it has very good components, and is certainly worth the price of the game.
2). Rules: The rules are printed on a four-page booklet, and are very easy to read. Many of the rules are repeated throughout the booklet something more companies should do. I hate missing an important rule because its casually mentioned in a small paragraph in the rules. When a rule is important, it should be emphasized, and these rules do that. The game is easy to teach, but knowing what monkey tribe to advance and how to bid does take a while to learn. The rules also include two advanced variants, both of which are excellent, and will probably be played often in my group.
3). Strategy: You only have two Civilization cards to pick from on your turn, but since each one gives you three choices, careful thought must be put into which monkey tribe is advanced. And how should you spend your coins? Should you spend all your coins, willy-nilly, not caring if you incur monkey wrath? Or should you be careful, always keeping coins on hand to pay off the rival tribes? How many monkeys should you bid on, and of what color? The choices are many, and its really a lot of fun deciding what to do. In my first game, I put all my energy into green and purple, and both of them did so poorly on the advancement track that I didnt get many victory points. I lost horribly, but still enjoyed the game, realizing the mistakes I made. I think its definitely a play-twice-immediately game, as people really need one game to realize their optimal strategies.
4). Time: The game plays fairly quickly. If players take a long time to bid, the game might drag, but even then, it finishes at a good clip (maybe an hour). The game is easy to set up and take down, and is one that can be played when there isnt much time. Im not sure I would classify it as a filler game, but its close.
5). Fun Factor: The game is hilariously silly. The theme of the game itself (monkeys being launched from the moon) is funny, but the advancement cards add to this humor. From the brown tribe learning to yodel, to the green tribe knowing how to ride a unicycle, to the blue tribe using deodorant a lot of laughter will occur in this game.
But of course funniness does not a good game make. There are many games that I have played (like Munchkin), that have made me laugh a great deal, but the game play itself wasnt really that good, so repeated playings were rare. This game, silly as it is, actually has some great game mechanics, and all who played it were impressed, wanting to play it again. So I highly recommend this game. I think that youll get a great deal of fun and good times for your moneys worth. And on top of that, the game has a VERY unique theme, one unlikely to ever be duplicated. So try it out a funny, interesting theme combined with excellent bidding and positioning mechanics. And dont forget to have the black tribe learn their Yoga!
This game took some time (about 1 hour, maybe 1.5) setting up and reading the instructions, but it was well worth the time! I played this game with my boyfriend as a 2 player game, which worked out wonderfully. It is intelligently designed, and there is definitely strategy involved once you get the hang of it.
My boyfriend did not like the fact that it took so long to set up and understand at first. (Hence 4.5 stars rather than a full 5.) Now that he understands the rules and we've played it several more times, he enjoys it. I would suggest playing it with someone extremely patient at first; someone who will fully read through the rules and game set-up with you. If you know you will be playing with someone who is a bit more impatient, perhaps read the rules and set up the game ahead of time.
Echoing the review of another customer, I agree that it is not a game suitable for children, despite the attractive kiddish name.
The strategist/planning gamer will most likely enjoy it. Once the object of the game is understood...a concept that will take a game or two to grasp, the game moves quickly. Bid on monkeys, get 'em in your ship, keep the tribes happy and diversify.
At first read thru the instructions, your head will spin as the point of the game is never clearly layed out. Even the first time or two playing will result in frustration. For those that endure, a great game will be found.
No dice, no predetermined path to follow around a board, no silly move back three spaces cards. Just your wits, your ability to manage limited funds and your wheelin' dealin' skill. A fun game for the right group of people.
Bringing these monkeys home requires Civilization Cards, Monkey Cards, and Ship Cards. Six Tribe Cards in different colors, each holding three matching favor coins, are arranged in a circle. Each tribe is allied with the two adjacent tribes and enemies with the opposite tribe. Ship cards show how many monkeys they can accommodate. On your turn, play a civilization card to advance a tribe stone on the Tribe Track, take two favor coins from the Tribe Card or an ally, and pay a favor coin to the tribe's enemy. Auction a Monkey card from a faceup pool; everyone bids favor tokens for it. Launch a ship after it's filled, and draw a new ship card. At game's end, the player who has shipped the most monkeys in a tribe scores points relative to that tribe's position on the Tribal Track. You won't confuse this game of wicked subtleties with your favorite bad sci-fi movie!
I hadn't tried any of the games from this new company, but the description on the box looked interesting, so I thought why not? The game features various decks of cards, and the object is to score points by getting monkeys from the moon back to earth. The monkeys have the capacity to learn and so become sufficiently bright to get in one of the rockets, which are conveniently lying around on the moon and then they get home. Well, let's just say the theme is light.
The mechanics are what interested me, so here's an outline. Six tribes of monkeys are represented by a card each and these are laid out in a circle. The tribes are all different colours, but what matters is their relative placement. The two cards adjacent to a tribe are friendly while the directly opposite tribe is the enemy. Each tribe card gets a number of matching coloured tokens placed on them to set up and each player also receives one token of each tribe's colour. The rest of the starting hand for each player is a rocket card and some influence cards (all of which are coloured in the same colours as the tribes).
Each round consists of two elements. The first, which is played in round order, is to play an influence card on a tribe. This card can be played on a tribe card that matches the colour of the influence card or one of that tribe's friends. These cards advance the intelligence of that tribe and this is marked on a score chart. The player receives 2 tokens from that tribe as payment for conferring the benefit. The tribe opposite is angered, so demands something in return and so the player must give one token of the matching colour to that tribe. This continues for all players.
Then the second part of the round takes place. Cards from a deck of monkeys are dealt - the same number as players - and the first player now offers one up for auction. The monkeys are also colour coded, and the winner of the auction will receive that monkey and put them in their rocket. Payment is made via the tokens, with a matching colour counting 3 points and a friendly token 2 points. All other tokens have no value.
If a rocket has filled its load of monkeys (2 to 4), then it takes off and lands on earth. One token in the colour of the rocket is received by the player who launched the rocket and each full rocket also scores a number of victory points.
The game continues until the entire set of monkey cards are auctioned off, which is about an hour's worth of gaming. If a tribe advances to the end of the score chart, it receives the first place victory points; otherwise the tribe in first place at the end receives them. These are awarded to the player who has the most of that tribe on earth, with second place for each tribe scoring about half these points. Each tribe is assessed and the most with the most advanced scoring the most victory points and the least advanced the fewest victory points.
The game systems are very interactive and the use of colours is clever. Perhaps so clever that at first you are confused by their interaction. This quickly disappears as the game systems become clear. Each round is the same and you have to deal with a shortage of tokens of one colour while maximising your position on the tokens where you hold the most.
Unfortunately, this game isn't impressive as a thinking, strategy game. For all its systems interaction, which appears good, the game is not exciting. This is because the planning that makes a strategy game enjoyable is hard to achieve. In an ideal game, you transport the monkeys with the highest number of civilisation/influence advances, so you need to focus on the advances for these monkeys. The luck of card draws means that this is at best a chancy happening. You then have to buy the right monkeys that are (perhaps) in the lead for civilisation advances on the chart not having any idea what will happen in the future. Again, this is guesswork and therefore the control over planning which you feel you might have, is illusory. Decisions are fairly obvious each turn as a result of the lack of options and there is no easy way to achieve longer term goals. Finally, there is too much luck over the capacity of your rockets, as 4 man rockets are much harder to launch (taking more time) and do not score enough additional victory points to warrant the longer time to launch.
It may be unfair to criticize the game for what it is not, but as I am constantly reminded, there are enough good games out there already, and with Nuremburg on the horizon more still to come.
These points aside, the tribe system works well, is central to the game and the presentation is fine. But the game is better suited to a light hearted affair that may make a change from your usual intake of games.