Too Many Monkeys Review
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Players: 2-6 (ages 6+)
Playing Time: 15-20 minutes

Poor little Primo the Monkey. He’s turned in for a good night’s rest—but his friends have shown up (and now, I imagine, all those monkeys are jumping on his bed). It’s one big, crazy party that lends itself to a fast-swapping card game.

The object of Too Many Monkeys is to help Primo get back to sleep by lining up your cards and swapping them out until just one (Primo) is left.

At the beginning of the game, each player gets six cards, which are placed in a row in front of them, face down. The remaining cards become a draw pile in the center of the table. The first player begins by drawing from the draw pile. If she draws a numbered card (1-6), she places it face up in the appropriate spot in her row of cards (for instance, if she draws a 2, she places it in the second spot), swapping it for the face down card.

If the swapped card is another numbered card—one that she doesn’t already have face up—she can play that one, too. Her turn continues until one of the following happens: (1) she has all six numbered cards face up (which means she wins the round), (2) she comes across a card that’s already face up in front of her (she then discards it, and play moves to her left), or (3) she draws a giraffe or an elephant card, which also ends her turn.

At the beginning of the second round, the first round winner starts with just five cards, while the other players start with six. Rounds continue until a player who starts with just one card draws a 1.

Though it’s rather tricky to explain, Too Many Monkeys is actually a pretty simple game to play. For the most part, it’s just a lot of fast-moving card swapping—with a handful of special cards thrown in to keep things interesting. In fact, the cards are probably the best thing about the game (well, that and the comical instruction pamphlet). Each card is bright and colorful, with funny little illustrations of monkeys, elephants, giraffes, and more. I especially love the poor elephant, who shows up at the door with his teddy bear, only to get turned away from the party.

Unless you win the first round, though, it seems to be pretty difficult to win the game. Like a stone that continues to speed up as it rolls downhill, once you build up that momentum, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll just keep winning. Granted, there are a few additional challenges when you have fewer cards. You do, after all, have increased odds of drawing a card that you can’t use. When I played, though, the winner of the first round typically went on to win the game—and that took some of the excitement and suspense out of playing. It was suggested that play would be more even if the game were played the other way around—starting with one card and building up to six (though that wouldn’t really work with the story).

So while Too Many Monkeys is a simply silly card game, complete with playful illustrated cards, the rules make for unbalanced play—and, no matter what your age, it’s just no fun to be the player with six cards in front of you, while your opponent only has two. I imagine it’s a bit like being the only giraffe at a monkey slumber party.

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