Years ago, my mom brought home two freezer bags filled with castle pieces, flags, disks, and two mechanisms to shoot those disks. The game was called Crossbows and Catapults. I have great memories playing this game with my sister because it was so much fun just shooting the discs at each other’s castle. In the base game you had two options, either use the ballista to shoot discs on the ground or a catapult to lob discs into the air to destroy the castles’ defenses. It didn’t matter if the situations called for it or not, I always used the catapult because I loved seeing that disc fly through the air. I had to put those long dormant catapulting skills to use once again in the game we will be looking at today.
Coconuts is a dexterity game where players launch rubber coconuts into the air hoping to land them into the cups on the table. This game was originally published by Korea Boardgames and now being sold in the US via Mayday games. I was impressed with their recent import of Click Clack Lumberjack, but is this high flying coconut tossing game worth your time? Let’s get to the review.
Coconuts is a dexterity game for 2-4 players that plays in about twenty minutes. In my experience, the game plays well with all player counts.
Years ago, the Monkey King was the ruler of the Mountain of the Monkeys. One day he made the mistake of offending the Buddha and this caused him to become imprisoned inside a mountain for 500 years. During this time the once peaceful and joyous habitat fell into chaos. Once enough time had passed, the Monkey King was released and saw the current state of the mountain. He decided that he should call upon the monkeys who were most fit to rule the mountain to a game of coconuts to find who was worthy to rule. That is where the players step in. Each player will take control of one of these monkeys attempting to be the new king. Each turn players will use the monkey launchers to hurl rubber coconuts into the air hoping to land them in any cup on the table. Players can also use special powers in the game to help themselves or hinder their opponents. They will stack cups they have earned in a pyramid shape on their game board until one player is declared the winner.
Once again, Mayday Games has brought another winner in terms of components to the US market. The monkey launchers are much larger than I expected and are built to last a long time. They are doll/action figure quality and are just amazing. Although the large smiling face on the monkeys might haunt your dreams for years to come. The materials used in the coconuts you toss are made with a rubber compound that allows them to jump off surfaces with no damage to the coconut or the table. They are also shaped like natural coconuts in more of a lemon shape then perfectly round. Although I should warn you, they do look like excrement from a small animal and if your friends don’t make a mention of this fact, you need new friends. Even the cups are made with higher quality materials then some of the cups I used in college. The only negative I have about the components is that the player boards are a little flimsy and don’t lay flat on the table. This has no effect on the game play, just a nagging element when stacked up to the rest of the components in the game.
How to play:
Game play in Coconuts is extremely simple. At the start of the game, each person is given a player board, a monkey launcher, eight coconuts, and two special power cards. The cups are then placed in the middle of the players in a square shape for 2 or 4 players and a triangle with 3. There are twelve total cups in the game with 8 of them yellow and the rest red.
On their turn, players place their launcher behind their player board, place a coconut into the monkey launcher hands, pull the hands down, and release in coconut into the air. If the coconut lands into a cup, that player takes the cup and places it on their player board. If the three spots on the player board are occupied, additional cups are used to build the next levels of the pyramid. Players are not limited to only claiming cups in the middle area. They can also claim cups from another player’s board. If the cup you claim happens to be a red cup, you get to take another shot. The coconut used to gain this cup will remain in there until the end of the game. If you miss, the coconut goes into the community pile and your turn is over. You can also play your special power cards before player’s fire their projectiles. These can cause players to have to call their shot, move farther away, or lose a turn just to name a few. The game will continue until one player has managed to get six cups on their board and is crowned King. If this doesn’t happen by the time all the coconuts have found their way into baskets, players will count the number of coconuts in the cups on their boards and the person with the most coconuts is the winner.
There is something primal that boils up inside me when I play a dexterity game. I think it’s my competitive nature that I’m able to suppress when I play more strategic games that crawls its way back up to the surface when I play a game like Coconuts. I’m more animated, loud, and more smack talk is thrown around the table then in most of the other games I play. This game is an amazing dexterity game. Every time I bring it to the table, people are a little skeptical. The oddly shaped coconuts and large smiles on the monkey launchers can make people question why they let you bring this game out, but once they have gotten a few practice launches in they are ready to play. Instantly, those once calm guests are yelling in excitement when a shot lands in a basket or their opponent makes a particularly bad shot. It’s something special when a game can cause a group of adults to do this.
You might be thinking that this sounds too easy, that a person with more experience should be able to dominate this game, but that isn’t the case. This is all due to the shape of the coconuts. Because they are not perfectly circular, they will bounce in all directions when they hit the table and baskets. I have seen shots that miss the baskets entirely, but bounce 90 degrees to the right and fall in. This does add some randomness to the shot making which might annoy some, but it doesn’t bother me. It allows every shot, no matter how bad it looks in the air to have a chance.
Coconuts is super simple to learn. Takes under two minutes to explain everything a person needs to know to play the game. Adding the red baskets was a great design choice. This gives the players a reason to go after a specific target to gain that special bonus of an extra shot. It leads to some decision making on where you want to place your next shot in a game that doesn’t have all that many choices.
I do have to talk about the major thing I don’t like in the game, the special power cards. They are just not worth adding to the game in my opinion. I can see that they were trying to add a new element to the game, but they fall flat. Most of them are intended to make it more difficult for players to make shots. Because of the shot randomness of bounces that I mentioned before, even if you have to shoot blind or farther away, it doesn’t necessarily make the shot more difficult. Also, one of the cards forces a player to miss a turn, which I think is one of the worse mechanics in any game. Two of the cards are decent, forcing you to call your shot and allowing you an extra shot, but they don’t make up for the others. Luckily, the game doesn’t need them and plays just fine without them.
I want to mention the components again, because they are just fantastic. Made with such quality that they will last a long time, even if your kids play with them…and they will. My three year old was instantly enamored with the game as soon as I opened the box. She and I play a modified version of the game, but she just loves flinging the coconuts just like me. This game doesn’t take a lot of time to play. Most games are finished in less than 15 minutes and there is non-stop action the entire time. The game does have some issues as you get later into the game. Once a majority of the cups are off the table you are forced to start shooting for what is on your opponent’s board. This is way more difficult to do because a higher level of precision is needed to land in the basket. This can cause several round of turns to go by before anyone has taken a cup away. Despite that fact, some of the enjoyable and most satisfying moments occur when you start having to take these shots to keep other players from winning the game.
I love strategic games, where I have to sit down and figure out how the game mechanics work together to secure victory for myself. But occasionally there is a game that, despite being very simple, just makes me bubble with pure joy when I play it. Coconuts is one of those games. Every time I bring it to the table, I find myself and my fellow players smiling through the game. The game isn’t without its flaws. The game can drag a little long at the end of the game and the special cards were a disappointment, but the overall game play and experience you get in the game make up for those shortcomings.
Coconuts is very simple to learn and is great to play with all age groups. Very rarely can I have the same amount of fun playing a game with my oldest child and playing with my college buddies. I could throw out more things that I said above about what is great about this game, but I would rather tell you a story. I brought Coconuts to a gathering of friends to watch some basketball. While during a break in the action we decided to play. After two games, a non-gamer friend was hooked. The next morning I had a text on my phone asking where he could get the game. He bought it that day. I can’t think of a better endorsement of Coconuts then that.
If you are interested in getting a copy for yourself, it’s about $28
Mayday Games also has a number of different dexterity games if you are looking for Coconuts or other games in that genre. You can browse their full catalog here.
Final Score: 4 Stars – An amazing dexterity game that will bring joy to all ages as they launch coconuts into the air.
• Special power cards are a disappointment
• Players can get frustrated with randomness of coconut bounces