29/09/2022

Cenayang: A local party game from Indonesia [Review]

Meeple-Eksyen_Feature_Board-Game_Cenayang

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 Cenayang actually mean?

Well, Cenayang is a term in Bahasa that means a shaman, people with the ‘gift’ to connect with the spirit world. In this game, each player will take the role of a shaman, and they will compete to obtain the title ‘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.

Setting up Cenayang

To enjoy Cenayang to its fullest, a proper setup is necessary. 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 by 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.

Let’s take a short break to catch our breath. Done? Okay, I’ll continue. We are almost there, fellas! 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.

Great! Now the setup is finished, we can start playing 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, and players take turn to be the active player. The active player initiates the first phase (Event) by drawing the card from the event deck, reading the text out loud, and activating its effect, if there’s any.

The game then proceeds to the Vision phase where the active player states a sentence, acting as if he/she were telling the vision from their psychic power. 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.

In Cenayang, the round concludes when it reaches the Predicting phase. This phase gives the non-active players the chance to assume how many players answering ‘yes’ to the question from the vision statement. They then place the Guessing Token on the guessing card, covering the printed number.

Lastly, all players stick their hands out on the table while the vision statement is getting repeated once more. Whoever answers ‘yes’ needs to raise his/her thumb up. The active player must participate when answering the statement.

How to win the game

In Cenayang, you compete to be the first one to gather 10 points. All players have the opportunity to obtain points in the Predicting phase. If you are the active player, and you guess correctly, it secures you 2 points. However, if your guess miss by only one difference (more or less than the correct one), you still 1 point. Of course, outside this range, you get nothing.

The non-active players get 1 point if they guess correctly. You can gain more points by betting, too. Before the vision statement is repeated, you can bet at maximum 1 point for extra stimulus when you guess correctly. If your guess is wrong, you lose that 1 point you bet. So, gamble responsibly!

My unforgettable experience playing with the designers

I got the honour and privilege to play Cenayang the first time personally with both designers, Arya and Yusak. Yusak’s wife joined our session to make the game merrier, too. It was a remarkable experience.

Cenayang is a simple social-party game, that’s for sure. It is easy to understand. Both designers needed 10 minutes to explain the whole rule, and we were ready to mingle.

Although it does not belong to my favourite board game genre and spectrum, I must admit that the game is quite fun and (positively) funny.

Judging by its cover, Cenayang is really presentable. One of the gimmicks I like from the box is this almost-invisible sentence ‘Can you see the unseen?’ It fits the theme perfectly.

Oh, I suggest listening carefully while the active player is stating the vision sentence. It defeats the purpose (to know each other better through the game) if you didn’t quite catch what the other party means, right?

I like the idea of gaining some new info about my friends through games, and Cenayang provides this opportunity. By playing together with Arya, Yusak, and his wife (whose name I forgot, sorry), my observation told me that they have been hanging out together since God knows when. They do have good chemistry between them, but they still got baffled whenever they wrongly guessed once in a while. It turns out, their creation has helped them to let them know each other deeper, too.

My personal opinion

Cenayang is a truth-or-dare game lacking the latter part, converted into a tabletop format. The voting system (guessing yes/no) induced in this game is accompanied by some sort of story-telling aspect (the vision statement).

It’s fun, especially if you play this game with your besties. Just like the trio I played this game with, you will then realize that you might not know the dirty little secrets inside your circle. Well, this game is even fun when you bring out information from your crush and/or partner while having fun with the game.

Cenayang is a real deal for team building, too. The point of this game is actually to know your friends a bit more.

Are you bored already with the typical party games like Werewolf and Coup? Then, Cenayang can be a good alternative for you.

Neither abstract nor euro game, Cenayang will never grind your gears consequently. Because it is not meant to make you think too deep.

It brings the simplest definition of fun, which some players (including me) usually forget after playing complex games more often.

This game will make your gathering event more fun. It may be getting pretty loud, especially when you cheer or boo your friends.

The more, the merrier, try to play it with its full player count!

A quick recommendation for improvement

I really enjoyed playing Cenayang, but there are still rooms for improvements. For example, the winning condition can be adjusted based on the player count. Ten points are good for 3-4 players, but it would take too long to finish the game when applied to five players and more. Your gaming group would start losing their interest because the game gets too repetitive.

Cenayang has a decent replayability thanks to the diverse topic cards provided. Nevertheless, the limited options would eventually dry up from multiple gaming sessions. Memento Craft, it’s time to plan your expansion carefully! 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 which interesting discussion topic to put into the pouch!

Verdict

Cenayang is a local social-party game, a game coming from the genre I rarely approve and consider decent. It somehow penetrates my defence through its refreshing story-telling mechanic. I have never seen something like this before.

The components are not the nicest, but the build quality exceeds my expectation for a local game with limited printing resource.

Overall, I can recommend Cenayang if you want the most unassuming form of fun (and something that gets your group loud).

I would like to offer my sincerest gratitude to Memento Craft and Invaders Board Game Station’s crew who helped me to realize this review piece and its entirety.

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