Pandamonium Review
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Players: 2-5
Playing Time: About 20-30 minutes


Pandamonium is billed as a “musical mimicking card game,” to be played by two to five players. Before play can begin, players must take some time to become familiar with the cards—and the actions that go with them. There are 66 panda orchestra cards, printed with 11 different actions. Each card shows a panda doing something in the orchestra—like playing drums, cymbals, or trombone. It even includes male and female opera pandas and a conductor. Each card is then associated with a particular action—such as clap once for cymbals, stand up for the male opera singer, and put your hands on your shoulders for the plucked bass. There are also three cards that are similar in appearance to the other action cards that have no actions associated with them.

  
 
The object of the game, after the players learn the actions and practice them a little, is to get rid of all of your cards by correctly matching actions to the cards played. The entire deck is dealt evenly to all the players and stacked face down on the table. The game starts with the youngest player flipping the top card from her pile onto a center discard pile. When the panda is revealed, all the players must immediately and simultaneously perform the action related to the card. If no one performs incorrectly (a Bad Note) then the play continues clockwise. When a player does perform a Bad Note, then she must take all the cards in the discard pile and add them to her pile.

Before I opened the box, this game seemed like a great idea—musical mimicking. I was disappointed to find that the only sounds we made were the clap for the cymbals card and slapping hands on the table for the drums card. I think this makes it even a little slower for the children to learn the cards. It would have been much more entertaining if the action for female opera singer were to hit a high note instead of covering your ears—and if you actually had to vocalize the sounds of the instruments instead of making sometimes seemingly unrelated actions. This is actually suggested in the instructions for other ways to play, but it seems to me that it should be a basic rule. Also, the rules for Bad Notes are very subjective, and even when they’re agreed upon by the players in advance, it’s difficult to determine exactly when/how one is Bad—and it can lead to fighting and hurt feelings. Even though it’s just a card game that we can fairly easily make more fun with our own rules of play, I think this one needs a little more work. It may be educational, but it just isn’t as fun as I thought it would be.

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