My full review of Ooga Booga can be found here:
A full list of my board game reviews can be found on the same site here:
(Thanks to Dad's Gaming Addiction for the layout idea)
Ooga Booga is a caveman-themed card game published by Blue Orange Games for 3 to 8 players. In this prehistoric memory game, players will create and build upon a "chant" based on primal phonetic grunts and gestures using the cards in their pile. Messing up the chant will start the chant over and earn the one who flubbed more cards. The winner is the player with the best memory(and a bit of luck) to successfully run out of cards!
How to Play
Ooga Booga contains 54 cards that will be distributed equally among players. 3-4 players start with 8 cards and 5-9 players start with 6 cards. Listed on these circular cards are phonetic phrases and images that are used to create the "chant". None of the players can look at their cards, so each player stacks the cards face-down in front of them. The person who can best imitate a wooly mammoth gets to go first!
There are essentially three card types in Ooga Booga: Word cards, action cards, and the Rumba! card. Word cards are recited out loud when played in the chain while action cards add a physical component to the chant (such as clapping, sticking your tongue out or pounding on the table). The Rumba! card switches the direction of play when added, but players still must call out the word "Rumba!" in the chant.
The first player turns over the top card of their stack and then recites the word on the card. Then they challenge the player to their left by pointing at them and shouting "HA!". The next player will take the top card of their stack and place it over the first card, just enough to cover the first word but showing the picture on the card. They will recite the chant from oldest to newest card, challenging the next player after reciting all the cards. Play continues until one of the players runs out of cards.
If someone at the table thinks the current player didn't recite the chant correctly, they can challenge them on it by pounding their fists on the table, saying "Pabo! Pabo! Pabo!". If the challenged player flubbed the chant, they take three of the cards from the chain to put into the bottom of their stack. However if the challenged player was right, then the person who called them out has to take three cards from the chain. The rest of the cards in the chain are discarded and the person who got more cards starts the new chant with a card from the top of their stack.
Ooga Booga is a contagious little game. The kids I played with really got into the chanting and would create their own little gestures to go along with each card played and the adults could be seen snickering from time to time at the pictures on the cards. I will admit that my memory is nowhere near what it used to be and I was always rooting for the person to my right to mess up so that I didn't have to chant a particularly long chain.
One of the neat mechanics in the game is that there's multiple ways to remember the words on the cards. Some of the players would close their eyes and memorize the chant as the current player is reciting it. Others would just remember the word on the cards and then some found it easier to associate the word on the card with the picture. Once I started putting the "face to the name" as it were, my chances of winning improved considerably.
Blue Orange included a few extra game variants to help mix it up a bit. The Ooga Dare! variant allows the current player to choose who goes next after they finish reciting the chant. If you're looking for something a bit more challenging, the Memory Master variant calls for stacking the cards directly on top of each other so that only the last card played is visible to the group. We preferred playing with Ooga Dare! as it added a bit more strategy to the game without making the game too hard for the short term memory impaired.
We found that Ooga Booga was best enjoyed during family game nights. The kids enjoyed beating the parents more often, and the games were quick enough to play twice in a half hour. Alternatively, we can recommend this as a fun game to play with a group of friends over some drinks at a party. The social lubrication can level the playing field for some and it's a game you can get just about anyone to try out for a game or two. If you're looking for a game to rope in some casual gamers during a party, or for an entertaining way to improve the family's memory skills, Ooga Booga is a good choice.