Ninja Monkeys - ‘Kids Series’ Review
Publisher: Radiant Games
Duration on box: 4 minutes per player
Age recommended on box: 6+ (Children will need to be able to read fluently or play with an adult’s help)
Time to learn: 5 minutes
Board Game Types: Card Game, Kid's Game, Hand Management, Party Game
Ninja Monkeys Board Game Review
If you took some of your best (pillow forts, imaginary friends) and worst (you’re grounded, monsters under the bed) childhood experiences and turned them into a card game, you would have the fast moving, “take that” game, Ninja Monkeys. Geared towards families, this game is simple to learn and play, yet allows the kiddos a chance to hone their strategy skills as they decide whether to play for a point for themselves, knock down another player’s score, or use an action to change up game play.
The gameplay is simple: each player starts with five cards and turns progress as each player draws and plays a card. There are three types of cards, and three choices on each play. Green cards are played face up in front of each player in the player’s “yard,” and are worth one point each. Red cards are played in another player's yard and are worth a negative point for the unlucky recipient. Each card in your yard also has an action attached.
The green cards are typically positive. If you play the “Teacher’s Pet” card you have the ability to draw an extra card each turn. The red cards often have a consequence worse than just the negative point. If your opponent plays the red “The Floor is Lava” card in your yard, you cannot play any new cards while it is resides there. Not ideal, but there is still hope! There are “Leap Frog” cards in both colors allowing you to cover red cards in your yard. Be careful though, the red version of the card can be played on your green cards by your opponents.
Your third option is to discard a blue action card. The game’s namesake card, the “Ninja Monkey” card allows you to pick up any card from any yard and put it in your hand for later use. The “Peek-A-Boo” card allows you to look at another player’s hand and take three cards of your choice. You do however have a chance to avoid the consequences of a blue card if you happen to hold a “Brain Freeze” card. The “Brain Freeze” card allows you to cancel the card’s effects, but beware, the original player may have their own “Brain Freeze” card and could cancel yours! This can go back and forth until one player gives up or runs out of “Brain Freeze” cards.
Ninja Monkeys is a big hit with the kiddos. Feedback from the kids after playing included, “fun and awesome” and “I like how the cards all say funny things, “The Floor is Lava” card is my favorite.” Our first few playthroughs took a bit longer than the “4 minutes per player” on the box, but as we got used to the game and found the right balance between building our own yards and attacking others, the game started to flow more smoothly. The art is cartoon-like and well done, and appealed to all the children who played. If you are looking for a quick card game to play with the kids, Ninja Monkeys is a good choice.
- Easy to learn, teach and play
- Balanced luck and strategy allows kids to win, but not always
- Funny cards the kiddos can relate to, and which might possibly give you some nostalgic feelings about your own childhood.
- Some games felt unbalanced depending on how to cards played out. In a game of six, one player played a card requiring everyone else to discard the entire hand but one. At that point the other players were not able to ever catch back up.
- Some kids might take issue with the “take-that” nature of the game, but we feel this might actually be an important life lesson. See: Should I Let My Kid Win At Boardgames?
Gateway Game Score: 9/10
Overall Rating: 7/10 (Fifi's score), 9/10 (Mini Fifi’s score)
Coming soon to Kickstarter. Check out the official Ninja Monkeys website for updates.