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Tom Vasel
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One of the top things I look for in a game is theme. Good mechanics without a theme can make for a good game, but good mechanics with a good theme can make for a great game! There is one thing you can never accuse Z-Man Games – that their games have no theme. Rather, they are brimming with them, and Cannibal Pygmies in the Jungle of Doom (Z-Man Games, 2002 – Stephen Tassie) is no exception – you can tell by its name alone!

Cannibal Pygmies is indeed a game full of theme, but not necessarily game. After playing it, I feel as if I had a great time – full of laughter and fun – but not necessarily great gaming. Now, that’s good enough for me – but if you’re looking for a good game – go elsewhere. If you’re looking for a good time – then this is a good place to stop. And if you like B-type adventure movies, then you have found your oasis!

The game is basically a large deck of cards. At the beginning of the game, six of these cards are drawn and the words at the bottom of them are used to form the title of the movie. For example, if the words: “jewel”, “death”, “island”, “portal”, “danger”, and “undiscovered” were drawn, the players could decide to call the movie: Portal to the Undiscovered Island of the Dangerous Jewel of Death. Stupid title, to be sure, but it fits the game well. The cards are then shuffled back into the deck, which is reshuffled, and six cards are dealt to each player. Players place any “Character” cards they draw in front of them – if they don’t receive any, they may redraw six cards until they do. One player then starts the game, and play proceeds clockwise around the table.

Each player, on their turn, can play cards either on their own movie (in front of themselves) or on other players (except during the first turn). Cards that can be played include:
- Characters: Each character has a defense value, a name, and several traits – such as “Male”, “large”, etc. They also may have a special ability and a funny quote on the card. The defense value (DS) also doubles as the value of the card at the end of the game.
- Locations: These add a DS value to all characters at the movie. There can only be one location at a movie at one time. Locations also have traits, special abilities, and quotes on them. Some locations have a negative effect – and should be played on opponents.
- Props: These include weapons, treasure, etc. Given to a character, they add to its DS and possibly give the character and/or player a special ability. Characters can have multiple props, and can give the props to other characters – but only one character can have a prop at one time.
- Creatures: These evil beings have an Attack Value, traits, possible special abilities and text. They are played on opponent’s movies to attack their characters. Only one creature may be used in an attack. The attack value of the creature is compared to the total defense value of the defending player’s movie (some calculations required), and if it is equal to the DS or greater, then the attacker may choose one character (and all their props) of the defender’s to be discarded. The monster and any special cards played are also discarded.
- SFX: These cards are the only cards that may be played on another player’s turn. They “freeze” the game, and the special text on the card takes place. Many of these cards affect attacks, and can easily determine the winner in an attack. Most SFX cards are discarded when played, but a few give some permanent bonuses or traits to the cards they are played on.
- Roll the Credits: These cards, which cannot be played on the first two turns, end the game. They can only be played by a person who has at least one character alive in their movie and one card with the “treasure” trait.

After playing as many cards as they can/want, a player may discard any number of cards, and draw cards until their hand is again six cards. When a “roll the credits” card is played (or all cards have been drawn), the game is over – and each player totals their score. They score points equal to the total DS of their movie (all characters, props, locations, etc.), and five bonus points for each card they have that has a word from the title of the movie on it (either on the table or in their hand.) The player with the highest total is the winner!

Some comments on the game…

1.) Cards: The cards are the whole getup of the game, and unlike many other card games of this type – no other tokens or dice are necessary. The cards are color coded – according to what type they are, and have back and white cartoonish art on them, showing the scene from some “B” Movie. The backs of the cards are also nice looking, and the quality of the card is fairly high. All the text on them is easy to read, and the numbers are clearly marked. I had a hard time putting the cards in and out of the box, so I finally stored them in a card holder – a lot easier to maneuver the cards in and out of.

2.) Rules: The game is easy to explain and understand. The rules are clear, and are also clear that the cards’ text always supercedes the rulebook. The rulebook is a little folded up booklet that fits in the box of cards. The game is simplistic; therefore, it’s easy to understand. There are a few “special” rules, like the fact that guns cannot be used against “swarm” creatures, but they are short and easy to remember. The rules are also found on the companies website, at

3.) CCG: The game feels very much like a collectable card game, just with the collectable aspect. Some cards are vastly more powerful than others, and some combos are exceedingly strong. However, it’s not very hard to knock down an opponent, and fortune in this game is fickle and can blow either way.

4.) Strategy: There really isn’t much. Play good cards on yourself and bad cards on your opponent. There isn’t much that a player can do to prepare themselves for the opponent’s attacks, except by playing the cards they’ve been dealt. This doesn’t make the game less fun, per say, but would discourage those who are looking for more.

5.) Theme and Fun Factor: The game is full of theme. Many of the quotes are directly from movies or are parodies of these same lines. The pictures, matched with the caption, matched with the quote, bring a lot of humor to the game. If this is the sort of humor that brings you a good time (i.e. you LOVE “B” adventure movies), then you’ll love this game. The game is really only fun for people who enjoy laughter, etc. (games like Munchkin), and won’t appeal to those who don’t care about theme that much. However, if the fact that the car runs out of fuel at the wrong time and that Mosquitoes Like Harrier Jets attack the Native Porter who’s holding the Big Cursed Gemstone Eye, then buy this game now!

6.) Compatibility: Even though the game is not a CCG, it is compatible with the other card games from Z-Man games: Grave Robbers from Outer Space I & II, and Kung Fu Samurai on Giant Robot Island. Mixing these games together makes for even more incredible silliness and fun.

7.) Speed and Players: The game plays quickly, which is good – because otherwise it might wear out its welcome. As long as the players who get the “Roll the Credits” cards play them, and don’t hoard them, the game can even go more quickly. The game also has, of necessity, a “gang up on the leader” tendency. This means that a three or four player game is far superior to a two-player game.

I like this game, but only as a pleasant diversion to when I need a good laugh. It’s frankly not that great of a game. However, it does have great humor, and I enjoy it more than most “funny” games, like Munchkin, etc. I think we could play it about three or four times a year, especially when it’s mixed with its sister card games. Considering the price, that’s not really a bad deal, and if you like horribly made jungle movies, and think theme is far more important than mechanics, this game might be the one for you. Just remember, you’re buying a diversion, not a game. Now excuse me, while Skippy the Wonder Dog, the Rich Fish out of Water at the Diamond Mine with the hunting bow and jeep, fight off a swarm of Piranhas.

Tom Vasel
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