Did you know that Kenakalan means “mischief” in Indonesian? Neither did I, that is, until I had played the latest creation from SchilMil Games.
Kenakalan tasks each player with being a tour operator in charge of a shopfront. They will be attempting to complete sets of tour cards to win the game. While all of that is going on, players will be able to utilize monkey cards to help themselves or mess with their competition. “Monkey Mischief” indeed!
Before we take a detailed look at the game itself, I’d like to thank Julia Schiller from SchilMil Games for sending me a free copy to review. You may recognize the name from my reviews of Komodo and Raid the Pantry, located here:
Cards – There are ninety-eight cards, consisting of tour cards, wild cards, and monkey cards. The tour cards feature pictures of Bali (a province in Indonesia), which players must collect to complete sets. Wild cards can be used in addition with the tour cards to complete said sets. Monkey cards can either be “wise” or “wicked”…the former is used to help out the card’s owner in some fashion while the latter is designed to set a player back, whether it be the person who drew the card or someone else.
Shopfront Boards – Each player will receive one of these to help organize their sets as they are completed. They are two sided…one side is used for the two to three player game and the other is used for the four to six player game. The numbers printed on the corners of the board indicate how many cards of the same color (theme) are needed to complete a set there.
Setup & Gameplay
Each player receives a player board of a particular color and they all make sure that it is flipped to the correct side, depending on how many people are playing the game. The playing deck is also adjusted based off of the number of players by removing a number of tour card colors, wise monkey cards, and wild cards, if appropriate. Once the deck is fixed the correct way, it is shuffled and the cards that were taken out are removed from play. Five cards are dealt from the deck, face up, to represent the “Special Offers Display” (more on that in a bit) and each player gets three cards. The youngest player goes first.
The goal of Kenakalan is to complete all three or four sets of tour cards (called tours) on your shopfront board. The number of cards you use to complete a set will go next to the number on your shopfront board. The sets you complete must be of a different color than a set you’ve already completed.
On a player’s turn, they’ll be able to do one of the following actions:
1) Draw from the deck. If a player draws a wicked monkey, they must follow the instructions on the card. Wise monkeys can be kept and used on a later turn.
2) Use one or more cards from the Special Offers Display. Starting from either side, the player takes one or more cards, but must immediately play all of them to complete a set or sets of tours. Cards that can’t be used to complete a tour on that turn cannot be taken. After a player is finished using cards from the display, they must draw cards from the deck or use cards from their own hand to replenish it.
3) Rearrange the Special Offers Display. The five cards can be arranged in any order players like for the purpose of helping themselves on their next turn or stopping an opponent from picking up a particular card. For example, if you know your opponent needs the blue tour card that is sitting on one of the ends (within easy reach), you might opt to move the blue card into the middle…your opponent would be forbidden from picking up the outside cards to get to it unless he or she could immediately form sets with those cards.
4) Put a completed tour set back into their hand. A player may want to do this to put a wild back into their hand should they draw a card of the same color (theme) that they had already completed as a set. It should be noted however that a player cannot play the same themed set that they just picked up and must wait until their next turn to do so, though they can use a wild card that they may have picked up to play a set of a different theme.
After one of those actions is completed, the player will have the option to use a wise monkey card and / or place completed sets (tours).
There’s a few rules that I neglected to mention in order to keep the review moving, but the above should give you a general idea of how to play. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
First, let me touch on the components. It should be noted that I received a proof copy, however I was told that the components should be identical to the finished product. If the quality of the components in the version I received is any indication, owners of the final production copy will be pleased indeed. Komodo and Raid the Pantry both feature realistic looking photos and top-notch components…Kenakalan turned out to be no different. The cards were sturdy and fun to look at, even if some of them reminded me that I am long overdue for a vacation. Well done!
The learning curve was very light…it was easier to learn and quicker to play when compared to Komodo and Raid the Pantry. As such, it’s an ideal game to bring with you when you’re on vacation with the family, especially if you have younger kids. I also found it to be a great game for school nights where time to unwind is lessened by never-ending waves of homework to check and papers to sign. Games like this prove that you don’t need complex rules in order to socialize and spend quality time with your friends and family.
In terms of strategy, there’s still a bit to think about, even if the game is easy to play. Most of my thoughts centered around whether or not I should hold on to certain tour cards. While having a bunch of cards in your hand will improve your odds in making sets, it increases the chance that wicked monkey cards will affect you in some way, shape, or form. The fun is certainly in the risk taking aspect of the game as you never know when those wicked monkeys will throw a wrench into your well-oiled machine.
Vinnie (11) had a fun time completing sets, but got the most enjoyment out of being able to pass off wicked monkey cards that he drew that I ended up having to follow because of my habit of keeping a large hand size. I didn’t have to coach him like I often do during other games…he picked up what he needed to do within minutes. He appreciated the art on the cards and even recognized that the design was similar to that of Komodo…it didn’t surprise him to learn (okay, maybe a little) that Komodo and Kenakalan were made by the same company. Still, he appreciated the overall theme and enjoyed his experience.
The bottom line is that Kenakalan is a fantastic, easy to play game that is ideal for families with smaller children. Its quick play time can serve as a nice after-dinner family game and its simple (but engaging) mechanics will attract players of all ages. If you have younger kids and have been looking for something to get so that you can spend a little time with them, then Kenakalan would be an excellent choice.
Final Verdict: 7/10
You can learn more about “Kenakalan” by visiting the following websites:
The game itself will be available for pre-order on October 1, 2012 and will be released on or around October 19, 2012. Keep an eye out!