Saturday 25 January 2014

Banana Matcho

A rather crazy, senseless and absurd game that has a tendency to cause laughter and frantic panic.

Name: Banana Matcho (2012)

Publisher: Zoch Verlag (This, along with Geistesblitz, is an example of why they are my favourite publisher)

Players: 2 to 6.

Age: 6+

Time to play: 20 to 30 minutes (very fast)

Price Range (AUD): $25.20 to $47.05. $25 to 30 is about right.

Availability: A bit niche and kind of rare but can be found online.

  • Crazy/Chaotic
  • Dice-Rolling
  • Kids

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

6.1+* out of 10. (Alright, can get better depending on the group - See my Rating Scale)

This is a simplistic but crazy (fun) game. The gameplay and turn order could be slightly improved but I always have a good laugh when playing it.

Basically only two people at a time roll dice. One person rolls the Yellow Banana "Matcho" dice and the other person rolls 6 Fruit Dice. Everyone else watches (which can be boring for some groups; or entertaining for others). The person rolling the yellow dice has to roll 3 monkey heads before the other person rolls a point-winning combination with the Fruit Dice (See Rules & Instructions for more info).

Whoever gets there first must squeeze the banana before the other player does to receive points (yes, that's right, the banana).

The frustration, tension and humour as each player tries to roll their desired combination (before the other does) is pretty funny and exciting.

*July and September 2014: Revised down from 8.1. When I first reviewed this game I gave it an 8.1. This was dreadfully misconceived. I have since changed my mind; it's theoretically a good game but its main and critical drawback is its "spectator effect". Everyone else watching the madness unfold as two people roll may be funny at first but this humour can only last for so long. It isn't an entirely replayable game. But it has its moments and can be funny with the right group. Just not necessarily fun with every group and every single time.

The Good:
  • Crazy kind of fun
  • Short and sweet
  • Extremely easy to play 
  • Very quick
  • Dice-rolling (Yahtzee style) is inherently fun
  • Squeezable banana makes for a novelty

The Bad:
  • Like La Boca, the game can have a "spectator" period where a few people aren't playing - but this isn't really a problem as people have a good laugh anyway watching others roll their dice.
  • You always "battle" the same people, unless you choose to mix it up via custom rules.
  • Replay value is arguably minimal - you can only roll and watch other people roll for so long
  • Can be a frustrating game for some, especially when you can't roll the dice you want. But that is part of the fun and ridiculousness

What makes this game fun? 

The best part of this game is watching people roll blanks as they desperately try to roll their desired dice combination. You should give this game a shot if you like pushing your luck with dice but in a frenzied environment.

- This concludes the basic overview of the game.
If you are interested in reading about the components & rules to the game, please read on -

Rules & Components

This is how the game board is usually set up

Note that the starting pieces should be on the Start icon rather than on the first square!
One person gets the 3 Yellow Matcho Dice;
Another person gets the 6 Fruit Dice

A banana is placed in the middle between the above two people.

Now, the person holding the Yellow Matcho Dice has to try to roll THREE Monkey heads (each yellow dice has 2 monkey heads, on opposing sides)

The person holding the fruit dice has to try to roll ANY given fruit combination as stated on the bottom of the board below

Top row: 3 of a kind yields 2 points; 5 of a kind; 4 of a kind and 2 of a kind; 3 lots of 2 of a kind;
Bottom row: 4 of a kind; 6 of a kind; 2 lots of 3 of a kind; 1 of Every fruit yields 12 points
Three monkey heads gets 1 point.

The dice-rolling is pretty much based off the game Yahtzee (similar to King of Tokyo and Dice Town except with unlimited rolls).

HOWEVER, once you are happy with what you have you must SQUEEZE THE BANANA before your opponent squeezes it.

So the Yellow Matcho dice roller must roll 3 monkeys before they can squeeze the banana and the Fruit dice roller must roll any given combination above before squeezing the banana. If the banana is squeezed prematurely (ie. there isn't any combination as above), the rolling just continues.

Whoever (correctly) squeezes the banana first gets all the points and the other player gets nothing.


So to give you an example:

The Green Player is the Yellow Matcho dice roller.
The Blue Player is the Fruit dice roller.

If this is Green's first roll

They can choose to keep one of the monkey heads like so and roll the rest:

If this is what Green got on their second roll...

They can choose to keep the other monkey head and roll the last dice.

Once three monkey heads are rolled (and this can take a while!) the player must then SQUEEZE THE BANANA before the other player does! If Green squeezes the banana first, they get one point (and importantly this stops Blue from getting high-scoring points)

(Meanwhile, while the Green player is rolling the Yellow Matcho dice, Blue is rolling the fruit dice at the same time)

If this was Blue's first roll:

Blue could keep the two coconuts and roll the rest like so:

On Blue's second roll they get this result:

Blue can then choose to keep everything except for the banana.

Blue will keep rolling the last dice until Blue gets another orange fruit - hence achieving 3 lots of 2 pairs which = 5 points.

Then, assuming Blue squeezed the banana BEFORE Green squeezed it (because Green was too slow and did not get 3 monkeys) Blue will move up the board 5 points and Green will get zero points as bbelow.

(Note that the 3rd player, Yellow, is a spectator)

Next Round

The Dice are then passed clock-wise or whichever way you want (so long as this is consistent throughout the game - or maybe you could have your own custom rules).

So for example on the next round Blue will get the Yellow Matcho Dice and the Yellow player will get the Fruit Dice; meanwhile, Green is the spectator.

The dice are then rolled in the same manner as I outlined above

This continues until someone reaches 30 points!

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