There’s one thing I can definitely say that I’ve learned about tabletop gaming this week, it’s to not judge a game by the box it comes in. Sure, there are a lot of games that come in awesome boxes, and most of the time they’re just that. But on the flip side there are games that don’t have the best packaging but are truckloads of fun. That’s what I found out with a game called Spin Monkeys from Rio Grande Games.
What’s It All About?
In Spin Monkeys players take the role of monkeys in the jungle when a wayward carnival makes a stop. You and your fellow monkey friends take an extreme liking to the bumper cars and hop right in for a fun time. You have no idea why there’s so much fruit on the arena floor, but you want to get as much of it as you can. You’re prepared to steer your bumper car to the best of your abilities, smash your monkey friends, and make it out with the most fruit to declare yourself the winner!
Out of the Box and Setup
Spin Monkeys comes with a lot of great components, and they’re nice and sturdy. There’s a game board that serves as the arena floor, tons of fruit chits, monkeys in bumper car tokens, banana tokens, and a nice deck of cards. The components pop out easily, and they aren’t flimsy by any means.
When setting up the game players will choose the monkey they’ll play as. There are eight different colors to choose from: yellow, green, orange, red, blue, purple, teal, and a magenta color. The board will then be placed out in front of everyone and players will place their monkeys on the blue spaces along the outer edge of the board. Fruit chits will be placed on the board according to their color (there are three different fruits: bananas, apples, and oranges) and each player is dealt five cards from the main deck after it’s shuffled. Then it’s time for the action to start!
The main goal of Spin Monkeys is to be the monkey with the most fruit by the end of the game. Each fruit has a different point value: bananas are 5 points, oranges are 2 points, and apples are 1 point. Once there is only one type of fruit left on the board, the game ends and players score what fruit they have. How do you obtain fruit? Well you drive your bumper car to grab it of course!
Each turn is broken down into phases, and each player follows the phases by taking actions. These phases are:
- Choose and play a card
- Rotate monkey bumper car
- Move monkey bumper car and collect fruit
- Resolve events
- Flip banana token from green to red
The cards from the deck have a certain number of degrees printed on each one. When you play one of these cards you’ll rotate your monkey that many degrees before you move. During the first phase each player chooses a card from their hand and places it facedown in front of them. When all players have chosen the cards are simultaneously revealed. The player with the highest speed (cards in front of them) goes first. Ties are broken with the highest rotation of the latest card.
The first player then rotates their monkey the chosen number of degrees and then moves in the indicated direction a number of spaces equal to the number of cards they have in front of them. Along the way they will pick up any fruit they land on, replacing picked-up bananas with banana peels. When a player hits a banana peel, they reveal the top card of the deck, rotate their car that many degrees, and continue their movement. This means things can get crazy!
Once you’ve played your card, rotated your monkey, moved, and resolved events, you’ll flip your banana token from green to red. Once each player has done this, the tokens are flipped back and the first phase begins all over again.
Some really cool things can happen while moving around the arena. You can wreck into other players, stealing fruit from them when you do, and you can also hit the walls which will force you to discard played cards and change your direction. There are also event cards that will come into play that have different effects on movement and actions!
I really learned my lesson on judging games by their cover with Spin Monkeys. It’s easy to learn, fun to play, and the more friends you have involved the crazier it gets. Rio Grande did a great job, not only with the mechanics, but also with the components of the game. Spin Monkeys would make a great party game as well as a game you can enjoy with your family, and even though it may not be as heavy or as spectacular-looking as some of the other games on the market, I think it plays well to how it was intended to. It surely takes some skill to know where to go, how to spin, and who to crash into, but what matters is it’s fun!
Thanks to Rio Grande for providing a copy of Spin Monkeys for review