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SPACE BALLOON GAMES "MONKEY TEMPLE" can be found at Your Local Game Store for around £22.00 - £25.00

MONKEY TEMPLE: Designed by Carlo Rigon, Chiara Zanchetta and Matteo Cimenti.  Illustrated very nicely by Mariano De Biase. For 8 year olds and above. 3-8 Players. 20-30 minutes

The Components are all made from strong, reliable cardstock, brightly coloured and well illustrated. The board comes in 2 pieces which fit together in a jigsaw fashion which is much better than having a folding board that wears and eventually splits into two parts. There are Coins, a Turn Marker, 5 Thief tokens and 4 Monkey Tokens - these Monkeys wearing coloured tops and numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4; the board also has the 1-4 numbering system but without any such colouring. The other and main pieces in the game are 2 packs of cards; Red for Objects and Blue for Tourists.

The premise is that the Monkeys have stolen, and continue to steal, Objects from the Tourists and that as these Items are found, the players, all bar one acting as Guardians, have to try to give them back to the Tourists.

 The Keeper scratches his head, possibly because this is a co-operative game and yet there is a 'bluffing' coin.

Played over 5 Rounds, a Round consisting of 3 Phases known as 1. Theft (placing the Item cards in the four spaces cut out above the Temple board. 2. the Return where the Monkey player chooses which Item to place which coin on and 3. Revealing, this is where the other players place the monkeys on the board, allocating one Monkey to each coin/Item. If the players, aka Guardians, cannot agree where to place the Monkeys the player holding the Guarding stand-up figure has the decisive vote. 

One player is selected to be the Monkey player and they are charged with loading the board with the Objects and the Tourists.

Basically this another game in the genre where one player is trying to convey clues (or a clue) to the other players without actually speaking, or indicating with their hands etc. The Monkey player (this position changes each Round) has 5 coins, marked 1-4 and a blank and they place these coins silently face down, one onto each Tourist. The players then look at the Items and the Tourists and try to decide amongst themselves which Object is likely to be associated with which Tourist. Once they have made their determinations the players take the Monkey stand-ups and place them one at a time, also onto the Tourists so that at the end of the actions during each Round there should be 4 Tourist cards each with a single coin and each with a single Monkey - there is a 5th coin and I will get to that in a moment.

The Monkey player has decided which of the Items belong to the Tourists by placing the coins to match the numbers on the Items as determined by the cut-out space on the Temple board. So we have had the Theft, the Return and now it is time for the Reveal. 

One at a time the coins are flipped over. If the number on the coin matches the number on the Monkey then the Monkey player has successfully (and legally) let the Guardians know who owned what. Once all four coins have been flipped and the results determined if any of the Monkeys and Coins don't match then the items are placed face up in a stack to one side; these count against the players. All matched Items and Tourists are removed from the board, the next player in order becomes the Monkey player and the next Round begins.

If the game lasts to the end of five Rounds without the players collecting 9 item cards in the aside stack then they win as a group. If 9 item cards become placed in the aside stack at any time during the game then the players have lost.

Although there is very little to the game play - the hardest part is usually trying to stop the Monkey player from chatting away, commentary style, when placing the coins - this is still a fun and pleasant family game. There isn't really anything in it to get the adrenaline or pulse beating fast for a core board-games player but that doesn't prevent families from having good fun with it, especially as it accomodates up to 8 players. Of course with only 5 Rounds and 8 players not all players will get to be the Monkey player. This is why we play one Round per player when we have a full compliment, adding extra cards to the 'losing' aside cards as follows.
Please note that the following include some of our own house rules
3-5 players: 5 Rounds - you lose if the aside stack has 9 cards
6 players: 6 Rounds -  you lose if the aside stack has 10 cards
7 & 8 players: 7 or 9 Rounds - you lose if the aside stack has 11 cards

The extra coin (all coins are known as 'Thief' tokens) is blank. The Monkey player is supposed to allocate all five coins, four to the Tourists (one to each) and one to the player with the Guardian stand-up. The players, other than the Monkey player, can place the Monkeys onto any of the coins, one on each, even the one with the Guardian, obviously one coin will not get a Monkey. The rules say that the blank Thief Token is intended to deceive Guardians (the players) to make returning the Items to the correct Tourists more difficult. There is no easy way to say it except this rule/token confuses us. As this is a cooperative game where all players are trying to win, and the player placing the coins is supposed to be helping the other players make the correct choices (even though they may not speak or indicate) why would they want to 'bluff' them with a blank coin? After playing the game enough times for review we all made a conscious decision to leave the 'blank' coin in the box and use our eyes and thoughts when placing the numbered coins.

The idea of the game is to give back all the Items without making too many mistakes and all players are co-operating together, with the exception that the Monkey player cannot talk or indicate their choices, just hope that the other players are on the same wavelength and see the Items and Tourists in the same light as they themselves do. For example if one of the Objects is a pair of slippers and one of the Tourists has bare feet the Monkey player may allocate the number to the bare-footed Tourist that is associated with the slippers, or perhaps the Item is a parrot and there is a Tourist looks a bit like a Pirate; sort of logic!

This is a fun game to play with family and friends and people (like myself) who play games of this genre with a tongue in cheek attitude - there is a reason why my teams in Pictionary© never do very well. I am always being told that my logic doesn't match most other players; I see things in my mind that other players do not even recognise and often still find it difficult to understand my logic when it is explained. To play Monkey Temple I have to bottle my weird logic and play like a 'normal' person (or so I have been told).

Anyone, including core board gamers, should enjoy this if they are playing with their friends and families, but my personal opinion is that a group of core/regular board games players wouldn't find enough in it even as a filler game. MONKEY TEMPLE is the type of game most likely to be found on the shelves of Toy Shops, substantial department stores and games stores who have regular non-core gamer customers.

Its retail price along with its eye-catching artwork and catchy name make it an ideal Christmas or Birthday present for Nannies & Grandads to buy for their grand-children. This is a good fun game to have on your home shelf alongside your Ideal, MB, Mattel, Hasbro and other similar family game company's publications.

Note from Pedro of Space Balloon Games

"I would like to thank you personally for the nice review you did of our game Monkey Temple. 
I noticed that you played the game with a little mistake that could change the game experience a little. 
The fifth token should not be given to the player with the Guardian stand-up but to one of the other players with no restriction (the rules say to one of the guardians (the other players) with stand-up or not. In this way, you can give an object to one friend or family member that could be well associated to that object and help the team to win. 
For example: if you are the monkey player and there is a compass on the table and you know that your son likes hiking (and everybody at the table knows it), you could give the compass to him in the hope to help the team win (everybody at the table should think about the reason why you gave a token to your son…. ).
Of course, you can give to one guardian the token with or without a number. 
The fifth token add another level of decision and make the game even more fun. 
Can I put this explanation on a reply to your review on BGG? I do not want to seem too “precise” to you but I think the extra token can really change the game feelings a bit. 
Let me know what you think and thanks again for the review. 
Regards, 
Pedro"

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015