13/11/2019

Cenayang: A local party game from Indonesia [Review]

While I am drafting the next entry for Essen 2018's loot, today we will review a local board game from Indonesia as an intermezzo. Cenayang: A game of assumption (we'd like to shorten it as Cenayang only from now on) is a party game designed by Arya Wirahadi and Yusak Arief Jatmiko and published by Memento Craft. I am happy and relieved that this review is done although it has passed the promised deadline. I'll do an in-depth review to let you know why Cenayang is a thing.

What does actually Cenayang mean?

Well, Cenayang is a term in Bahasa which means shaman, or people with the 'gift' to connect with the spirit. In this game, each player will take the role as a shaman and they will compete to gain fame as Shaman of the year. Cenayang is playable for 3-6 players; the more the merrier, by the way. The shamans will try their best to predict the number of correct responses based on the questions asked by the judges.

So, are you ready to be the best shaman of the year? Let's play Cenayang: A game of assumption!

Set up Cenayang

To enjoy Cenayang to its fullest, a proper set up should be done. Let's start with distributing one cover to each player; the character printed on the cover will not affect the game. Do not forget to provide a guessing card accompanied with a guessing token mark (the card with numbers inside the circle) and put it behind the cover. Don't let other players peek yours!

Then, shuffle the event cards (the card with red back) and set up the target card (the ones with blue back) according to the number of players; Use only the cards with numbers lower than the player count, shuffle it. Put these two decks in the middle with the gold and silver. One gold is equal to 3 silver tokens.

Almost there, man! Now, you just have to put all the topic cards (the two-sided card deck) into the pouch and shake it. Each player must take one topic card every round. The set up is done and let's play Cenayang.

Start playing Cenayang

Starting from the first player, each must pick one out of 2 topics from the card. Choose which one is the most interesting topic for you. You know what, you can actually extract information from your crush or person-of-interest in this game through this phase, of course, if you do it right. Just make sure that you sit on her/his left side because the topic card you choose should be given to the player on your right side. Put this in front of his/her cover so the other players can see the topic clearly. Each player now takes 1 target card and secretly put behind the cover. Don't let the other guys peek your target card, too!

In each round, there will be several phases. Starting from the first player, each will then get his/her turn to be the active player in each phase. Event phase is initiated by the active player by drawing the top card on the event deck; read the text out loud and activate its effect, if any.

The next phase is a vision phase where the active player states a sentence, telling the vision he/she gets. This vision statement needs to relate to the topic cards chosen by the player on the left side. The sentence must be initiated with 'There are some people among us who ...' A rule-of-thumb: this statement is basically a form of yes/no question and must not be a general fact.

The predicting phase gives the other non-active players to assume, how many players answer the question from the vision statement with 'yes'. Place the guessing token mark on the number printed on the guessing card. Then, all players stick their hands out on the table and the vision statement is repeated once more. whoever answers 'yes' needs to raise his/her thumb. The active player must participate when answering the statement.

How to win Cenayang

In Cenayang, you will be competing to gather points; whoever gathers 10 points wins the game. In the predicting phase, if you are the active player and your guess on the number of players who answer 'Yes' is correct, then you get 2 points. However, if you miss by only 1, then you get only 1 point.

What about the other players? The non-active players get 1 point if they guess the number of players who answered 'yes' correctly. You can gain more points, too, by the way. Before the vision statement is repeated, you can bet at maximum 1 point to gain extra when you guess correctly. If your guess is wrong, you lose that 1 point you bet. So, bet responsibly! I sound like a gambling ad, don't I? LOL. No gambling, kiddo.

My experience personally playing with the designers! 

My very first time playing Cenayang will never be forgotten; I play personally with both designers, Arya and Yusak; I also don't forget Yusak's wife, though! I like social-deduction game and rarely play a social-party game such as Cenayang. This game is quite fun and funny, and of course, simple. Cenayang is really easy to understand and they only needed 10 minutes to explain to me the whole rule.

Judging by its cover, this game is really presentable. One of the gimmicks I like from the box is this visible-invisible sentence 'Can you see the unseen?'

Oh, and please listen carefully while the active player is stating his/her vision sentence! Although it's not hard to answer yes/no, it's really critical if you don't quite catch what he/she means. It will defeat the purpose that you have to answer honestly if you can't even answer correctly, right?

What I like the most is, just like I said earlier, you can gain something new from your friends while you are playing this game. I observed Arya, Yusak, and his wife, I think they have been hanging out together since God knows when. They have good chemistry and they can practically guess how many 'yes' will appear among them. It's a good chance for me to know them deeper, too.

My personal opinion

Cenayang is quite similar to truth or dare without the daring part in the board game format. The voting system is accompanied by storytelling which happens every time the player states the 'magic sentence' in order for the other to predict the result.

It's fun, really, especially if you play this game with your besties; you will then realise that you might not know their dirty little secrets inside your circle. Well, this game is even fun when you bring out information from your crush and/or partner while, of course, having fun with the game. Cenayang is a real deal for team building, too. Well, the point of this game is actually to know your friends a bit more; you will not regret it.

Are you getting bored already with some party games like Werewolf, or typical Coup you find everywhere? Well, Cenayang can be a good swing for you, then. It's not an abstract game, neither a euro; it will not grind your gears. This game will make your gathering events more fun and might be pretty loud, especially when you cheer or boo your friends. The more the merrier, try to play it with its full player count!

My recommendations for Cenayang

Let's start with the rule, then. I really enjoyed playing Cenayang, but there are still rooms for improvements. For example, the winning condition can be improved. Ten points will be good for 3-4 players, but you'll start losing your interest when this condition is applied to a gaming session with 5 or more players. It will take too long to achieve 10 points. The system is okay but it will get too repetitive and you'll be bored.

Cenayang has medium replayability because of the topic cards. Well, as many topic cards as you pack in the game, it will still be limited. Memento Craft, it's time to plan your expansion carefully, though! Perhaps you can add more topic cards besides additional components for higher player counts or even better, new mechanics. It might be a good idea to provide blank topic cards so players can even choose it for themselves what to put into the pouch!

Verdict

Cenayang is a local social-party game that I have approved so far to be considered as decent. This game is fun and you get to know your circle more. The story telling system used to state the yes-no question is something so refreshing and I have never seen this kind before. The components are not the nicest but its quality exceeds my expectation! If you want something fun and loud, Cenayang would be a good idea.

My sincerest gratitude for Memento Craft and Invaders Board Game Station's crew who have helped me during the writing of this entry.

photos: Geoffrey Benawar; video: Cenayang