Bananya the Card Game Review

Bananya the Card Game is a game by Chelsea Schwartz, published by Japanime Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be trying to collect one of each of the different types of Bananya cards while playing cards to the Kittie Litter Box to gain more cards and activate different powers. In the end, the first player to collect 10 different Bananya cards will be declared the winner.

To begin, the cards are shuffled together and each player is dealt 7 card to form their starting hand. They are also given a player reference card. The remaining cards in the deck are then placed face down to form the Draw deck. The lid to the game box is turned upside down and placed near the Draw deck in the middle of the play area to be used as the Litter Box. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played with each player taking turns until a player wins. On a player’s turn they will draw a card from either the Draw deck or the Litter Box, adding it to their hand. The player must then play a card from their hand to the Litter Box and resolve it’s power immediately. However if the player chose a card from the Litter Box, they are not allowed to play it until their next turn. If a card forces the player to discard a card, the player does not resolve it’s power. Once a player completes these actions, their turn is over and play passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues with players drawing cards, playing cards and activating powers until a player collects a set of 10 different Bananya cards. When this happens, the player must shout, “NYA!” and show that they have all 10 cards in their hand. The first player to do this is the winner.

The game consists of a deck of 64 cards, 4 large reference cards and a sturdy game box that doubles as part of the game. The box is fairly small but not small enough to fit inside your pocket. The box lid is used as the Litter Box and is adequately designed to look like a cat’s litter box. The bottom looks like a sand litter box with a small poop shovel on top of it. The words Litter Box are written on both ends. My daughter and I both found this rather amusing and cute. The reference cards are nice and sturdy and have a great finish on them, as do the playing cards. The finish is quite slick and keeps the cards from sticking together. Speaking of the cards, these are absolutely adorable. My daughter was completely overcome by the sheer cuteness of them all. Needless to say, we both fell in love with the look and feel of the game. It’s so cute and sweet that it’ll almost give you a tooth ache. That’s just how sweet it is. The writing on each of the cards is large enough that I don’t even have to break out my reading glasses to read them. That’s a nice touch for my poor old eyes. Honestly, I couldn’t find anything negative to say about the components for this one. For a simple card game, it don’t get much better.

10 out of 10

The rulebook for this game is quite short and sweet. It’s small enough that it fits comfortably inside the box. The book has some cute pictures on it. It also contains 1 page describing the components and set up for the game and 1 page of actual rules. The back of the book contains 3 frequently asked questions. That’s it, there’s nothing else. It only takes a minute or two to read over and you’re ready to go. My copy of the rules have since been clarified with a newer version which explains that a player must collect a set of 10 different Bananyas to win. My rules stated that you need to collect 10 Bananyas. Not a big thing but it did raise the question of what you needed to win. The rules are simple enough though and so it shouldn’t be difficult to understand. The FAQs on the back page clear up a few things like, what if you shout “Nya” and you didn’t have 10 different Bananyas. In that case, you’d have to shuffle the cards in your hand, discard 2 of them randomly and then resume playing. It explains what the Litter Box is and how it works and explains about drawing a card from the Litter Box. Apart from that, there’s not much else to the rules. While I like the minimalistic rulebook, I’d have really liked to have seen a few helpful hints on how to strategically play the game, as in how you get more cards into your hand to be able to get those 10 cards you need to win. There was 1 major issue that I had with the rules. If you look on the back of the game box, it stated that you draw a card from either the Draw deck or the Litter Box and add it to your hand and immediately resolve it’s power. The rulebook stated that you play a card from your hand to the Litter Box and resolve it’s power after drawing a card from the Draw deck or Litter Box. At this time, I haven’t received any clarification on this so we’ve been following the rule book, since it should be the definitive answer to the question. Other than that, I think the book is fine. As I said, it’s quick and simple to read and fairly straight forward. Overall it gets the job done.

7 out of 10

Here lies the part of the game that I had the most problem with, the actual gameplay. I wanted to absolutely love this game. It’s so cute and adorable. It looked so simple and easy. The truth is, it’s deceptively harder than it looks. The first time we played this one, it took forever and noone could ever figure out exactly how to get the cards they needed to win the game. We finally gave up, which honestly left a bad taste in our mouth to start off with. My daughter was looking pretty worn out with the game but after looking things over again and thinking about each of the different cards and how they worked, I convinced her to give it another shot. The next playthrough went a little bit smoother and we actually wound up with a winner in about 15 minutes time. What we discovered is that you absolutely have to think about how you’re going to get cards into your hand and which ones to discard at the right time. The game is deceptive on just how strategic it actually is. The first playthrough we wound up just cycling through cards and never really getting anywhere, never coming close to having 10 cards in our hand. The second time my daughter still struggled on what she needed to do. The box says that the game is for ages 6 and up, but I felt it’s not as easy a game as what the box thinks it is. After struggling the first game and losing the second one, she was pretty much done with playing this one. The odd thing was that after a couple of days, she wanted to try it again. I explained what she needed to do to get more cards and that she needed to discard the cards that she had duplicates of so as to keep the ones she needed. This helped her out a good bit on our next playthrough and she actually beat me. So what does that mean to me? Well, it’s good and bad. I liked the game, but I didn’t if that makes sense. I think if the game wasn’t so cutesy and adorable looking, then I wouldn’t have thought twice about the difficulty of the game. It’s the cuteness that threw us all and made me not like it as much as I thought I would. I think once you realize that it’s not a cake walk kind of game, then it becomes a bit more enjoyable. Like I said, it’s quite deceptive and not the game we thought it was to begin with. Of course that doesn’t mean that we didn’t like it, just that we didn’t like it as much as we thought we would. My daughter and wife both ask to play it occasionally so there’s that. That says that they like it well enough to want to play it. As for me, I think I’ll leave the sweetness for my glass of tea and play this with them only when they ask. I think this is a game that will draw people in or turn them away with the cuteness. It’ll be a love or hate reaction. I loved how it looks. Those that like the look of the game I feel with not necessarily like the game play, while those that don’t like the looks of it I feel would like it more so. It’s a very odd dynamic. I guess to sum things up, I found it to be ok but not a game that I absolutely loved. My wife and daughter liked it more than I did, which I attribute to the sheer cuteness of the game, not the gameplay. Overall this is one that I’d recommend trying before buying.

7 out of 10

Bananya the Card Game is a cute but deceptively strategic card game full of cats in bananas. The game varies in terms of actual gameplay. It can be as short as 15 minutes or as long as 40-45 minutes. I’d average that at around 25-30 minutes. The first game may be longer but once you get the hang of things it takes a bit less time. The rulebook is short and sweet and can be read in less than a minute or two. I’d have liked a bit more clarification and more about how the game works in the rulebook but I did like the look of the book itself. The game took a couple of plays to really understand just how to play it. It’s one that is deceptively strategic and can really take a bit of thinking to understand. I found it to be likeable but not necessarily loveable, as I wanted it to be. As I mentioned earlier, I think players that like the look of this game may not like the game play, while those that don’t like how it looks may be more apt to enjoy it. It’s for this reason that I’d recommend trying it before buying it. Don’t let the cuteness and adorable cats lull you in. It can be a difficult game to win, but still simple enough to understand the rules. The game is family friendly but I truly think that the player age should be higher. I just don’t think younger kids will understand what they need to do to win and it may not be as enjoyable for them for this reason. In the end, it’s a good game and one that I’m sure some players may really truly enjoy. For me, I’ll play it again when my daughter or wife asks to play it. “Nya!”

7 out of 10

For more information about this and other great games from Japanime Games, please check out them out at their site below.

About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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