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Tonga Bonga
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Store:  Strategy Games
Theme:  Nautical/Aquatic
Format:  Board Games

Tonga Bonga

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Product Awards:  
Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 1998

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 45 minutes 3-4

Designer(s): Stefan Dorra

Manufacturer(s): Ravensburger Germany

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Product Description

This is a game of sailing ships in the South Pacific. On each turn, players have to hire a new crew for their ship. To attract Captains and Mates, they display the wages they're offering. Each player (shipowner) then throws three dice (symbolizing the crew)--crew are distributed equally to all ships but his own. The first player will naturally seek out the post offering the highest wages, but later players can oust him from the post. After hiring the crew, the ships set sail, with the crew setting the speed. Afterwards, the crew signs off, taking the wages with them. On the next turn, players hire another crew. The ship owner, laying the course, tries to reach four out of five islands before anyone else, building camps on each one. The first player gets a hefty price, the later arrivals a lesser one. After the camps have been set, the players race back home to the island of Tonga Bonga. The first player back receives another bonus and ends the play. The player with the most ducats at the end of the game is the most successful shipowner and therefore the winner of the game. Tonga Bonga introduces some interesting new game mechanics in the way you have to ante, the hiring, and distributing the dice.

Product Awards

Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 1998

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Stefan Dorra

  • Manufacturer(s): Ravensburger Germany

  • Artist(s): Franz Vohwinkel

  • Year: 1998

  • Players: 3 - 4

  • Time: 45 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 895 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. An English translation of the rules is provided.

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4 in 2 reviews

terrific family game
March 20, 1999

Tonga Bonga provides a fun & challenging 'Family Night' game. The colors, graphics, 'ducat coins' and ease of play made it possible to have everyone grasp the rules in about 5 minutes. My eight year old caught on to the bidding process of the game after two rounds, and was making change with the bank to do his bidding! An excellent learning bonus!! The flow of Tonga Bonga is fast, so no one playing got bored waiting for another player to make his move. However, my beer & beer gaming group found the game fairly 'light', and preferred Stefan Dorra's Streetcar in terms of advanced planning and strategy for an evening of adult gaming. I recommend Tonga Bonga to any player/parent looking for a fun game to involve the family and even use as a teaching tool on budgeting money and planning.

A wonderful game full of tough decisions
January 21, 1999

The goal of the game is to have the most money at the end of the game - sounds simple enough!

Each round consist of four actions: Pay your crew, roll and play your dice, move your ship, and collect your dice.

  1. Paying your crew - the more you pay them, the more likely you are to get to move your ship a long distance (a good thing). Two stacks of coins are placed on the board - they will be awarded to the two highest 'bidders' in the 4th action. Other players will then place their dice next to the coins after rolling. More money attracts higher die rolls.

  2. Roll and play your dice - die rolls are given to the other players in the game. High die rolls are good because you are more likely to collect the highest pay offered by the other players. Low die rolls are good because the other players won't move very far. Which is better???

  3. Move your ship according to the die rolls given to you by the other players. High numbers are always best here. Ships are moved to islands on the board and are rewarded the most money for arriving first.

  4. Collect your dice and corresponding pay. Higher rolls will usually have received the most pay from the other players.

After a player's ship has landed on 4 of the 5 islands, he returns to the starting island and the game is over. The player with the most money wins.

The rules to Tonga Bonga are easy to learn. The strategy is complex. I like the fact that the die rolls are given to other players and your movement is therefore decided by the other players. The only control you have over how far you move is the amount of incentive you offer via paying your crew. Don't pay too much though - remember the goal of the game is to have the most money! If one player gets way ahead, he can be slowed down by the other players if they conspire and give the leader their lowest die rolls. Not very nice - but neither is life on the high seas! Arrggghhh!

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