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Subject: Show some monkey love rss

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Mitchell Spivak
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I can't remember when it was that I first heard about this game, but the handful of reviews here on the geek convinced me that this game would fill a niche in my collection. As of yet, I have not played the game a huge number of times but I'm delighted to give this game another positive review.
The first thing I would like to address is the theme. Monkeys are almost always cute, but do they make good subjects for games? I don't think there are an enormous number of games that allow you to play the role of a monkey, but in this game one is a monkey who runs around a lab trying to free other monkeys. While I cannot say I felt like a monkey playing the game one of my favorite insults when play boardgames is to call my competitors (something profane inserted here)monkeys. I was delighted to be able to do this as we all had different colored monkeys as our player markers. The theme certainly fits the gameplay well.
The components of this game are lovely. The board is a combination of four separate boards which are combined to make up the lab. This allows for variations of set up. The cardboard tokens are nice thick cardboard. The player markers are cute colored monkeys and there is also a blue colored plastic security guard. I was very pleased that there was no unnecessary skimping on the component quality as little monkey are way more fun than more cubes....sigh
The rules of the game are very straightforward. One has three actions in their turn, and there are several choices of actions which one can do. The actions include: moving your monkey, playing a card, picking up swapping or dumping an item, combat, turning over a cage, and opening a cage. One gets points in this game by opening cages (moving the right items that will unlock the cage into the room and then using an action to open/take the cage) or by being in rooms adjacent to cages which are being opened. The game ends when there are no more cages to unlock or alternately when the deck runs out. The rules can be learned from the rulebook in several minutes and can be taught in less than five. The resulting gametime appears to be between 30 in 60 minutes.

Despite the simplicity of the design there appears to be some significant depth here. Between the few number of actions which one has in a turn and the ability to play cards, every turn is fraught with difficult choices. Also, one inevitably gets into their opponent's business and there is more than enough screwage to go around in this game. I believe the game suggests that it can be played with ages 10 and up; I played this with my nine-year-old daughter and she had little difficulty in grasping the concepts of the game as well as the strategy. This does not mean that the game is meant for children as I played it with some adults as well and the game slowed down considerably while people contemplated the various options they had available in their turn.
The game is not fast enough to be considered a filler, but it would likely fit more in the category of a light game. I would have no qualms with playing this game on my game night as an end of the night game after some more intense gaming. I am looking forward to playing this game some more and I have no regrets about its purchase.
This is apparently a first-time offering from the designer of the game Dan Manferdini. Props to him for supporting his game by responding to questions. I hope this is the first of many from him. Congratulations!
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