Designer: Antoino Scrittore
Publisher: Zoch Verlag
Time: 30 minutes
Ages: 10 and up
# of players: 3-7
Times Played: 2 plays
review by Mark Jackson
See, we’re all following around this unknown species of animal named Kali (who looks suspiciously like the black Gulo pawn from Gulo Gulo) through the wilds of Africa… and evidently participating in a giant line dance – hence the game title, Kalimambo. Two problems present themselves: piles of elephant poop scattered about the savannah… and Kali’s buddy, the rhino, who has decided to chase us and “tag” the last person in line.
Theme is not really the strong point of Kalimambo – though there’s some cute animal art and the usual delightful Zoch wooden pieces. This is a delightful take on the 6 Nimmt/Category 5 mechanic…
…except this time around, the numbers on the cards (each player has an identical deck numbered 0-11) indicate only the order in which your explorer will move. (Evidently, these explorers are weighted down with carry-on luggage, extra supplies and/or the cares of the world – they simply move to the front of the mambo line & stop, exhausted by their arduous journey.) If you play your zero card, you don’t move… and if two (or more) explorers play the same number, only the one closest to the end of the mambo line moves.
Poop/point avoidance is the name of the game here – it costs you 3 points (plus you smell really bad) if you step in/land on a pile of elephant dung.
You’d also like to avoid your posterior meeting up close & personal with Kali’s buddy – because when the explorer directly in front of the rhino picks up his brightly-colored beverage with a paper umbrella (not actually a component in the game – but you get the idea) and gets jiggy with it to the front of the line, the rhino charges forward until he’s skids to a stop directly behind the next player in line. The explorer who is now a hood ornament for the rhino loses 1 point for every space that the rhino moved.
Kali, the party planner/repurposed Gulo Gulo figure/unspecified animal most likely to be wearing a lampshade, may be dancing with us (he has his own deck of numbered cards) but he’s the host – so he doesn’t step in the poop or have a horn print tattooed on his bottom. That honor goes to the player who played the lowest numbered card in the round.
Kalimambo is just 12 rounds long – enough to play out your entire deck – and breezes by in a delightful 15 minutes or so. It’s not going to reveal any hidden depths with multiple plays – but it is certainly going to bring a great deal of laughter & fun to your gaming table – especially if you play with 5-7 players on a regular basis. It also looks to be extremely kid-friendly.
A caveat: I don’t think the game would be nearly as much fun with 3-4 players… in fact, I think it would really lose some of the delightful silliness when you could “math” out the best move.
A challenge: off the top of my head, I can think of three Zoch games which center around poop: Duckling Dancin’ (the expansion to Chicken Cha Cha), Los Mampfos, and now Kalimambo. I am sure there are more – enlighten me!
Opinions from the Other Opinionated Gamers
Jonathan Franklin: Kalimambo is a silly fun game that works as a very light multi-generational game with people trying to win. It is also a natural 3am at a convention game. Lots of goofy innuendo, nice bits, and plenty to banter about. There can be quite a score spread, so if played before midnight, some might feel out of the running at around turn 5 or so, just because that is how the cards fell. I am picking it as a possible SdJ nominee. BTW. Wasn’t Pick Picknic Zoch? The fast chickens left droppings behind them - not exactly centering on poop though.
Dale Yu: It’s interesting enough with my gaming group – it’s sort of a 6 Nimmt! with a board. I say this because there is usually someone who ends up playing randomly (and often does quite well in the final score). This has been a lot of fun with my kids, they seem to get a kick out of the unpredictable movement. It’s a short game, filled with laughs, and lasts just the right amount of time that I’d want a game like this to last.
Ratings Summary from the Opinionated Gamers
I love it!… Mark Jackson
I like it… Joe Huber, Jonathan Franklin, John Palagyi, Lorna, Dan Blum, Dale Yu
Neutral… Larry Levy
Not for me…