Kokonana Family Game Overview

Player character crossing the river in Kokonana family game. - SahmReviews.com

Many of you know that my daughters are adults and away at college now. My oldest brother has children who are all adults as well. But I also have a niece who is a preschooler which means we still have plenty of opportunities to play board games for little kids. We take great delight in adding a new board game to their family game library on birthdays, holidays and and days that end in “day”. It’s not a responsibility we take lightly since what we play (as kids or adults) can often lead us to love (or hate) games. So we’re currently testing out Kokonana!, a memory game for 2-4 players that was provided to us by Kids Table Board Gaming.

Game setup for Kokonana family board game. - SahmReviews.com

It’s designed for kids five and up, so setup is pretty simple. If you’re familiar with Frogger, that’s more or less what it looks like. Create a grid of 20 Shallow Water tiles, another of Deep Water tiles, divided by the Sandbank tile with five keys on it and a stack of Talisman tokens nearby. Flank the two grids with a Village riverbank by the shallow grid and a Temple riverbank on the other side of the deep water. Eight randomly placed Temple Tiles form a small grid on the far side of the Temple riverbank. Players select a runner token and place it on the Village riverbank and you’re ready to go.

Kokonana is a race to get to the other side of the river and unlock the temple. You’ll do this by finding matching tiles to create stepping stones. In other words, this is a memory game. I always forget how terrible my short-term memory is until we play a game like this.

Four players matching tiles and traversing the deep waters to get to the temple in Kokonana family board game. - SahmReviews.com

Beginning with the oldest player and proceeding clockwise, each player’s turn consists of two phases. HOP then FLIP. The reason the oldest player begins is because there have to be valid spaces to HOP in order to take that step. Since there aren’t any valid spaces at the start of the game, essentially the oldest player is only performing the FLIP part.

Flipping a water tile in Kokonana family game. - SahmReviews.com

When you HOP, you’ll move onto a face-up stepping stone that is either vacant or has only one other runner on it. Stepping stones are only revealed as part of the FLIP phase. That involves selecting a face-down Water tile and revealing it for all to see. Then you’ll select another. If they do NOT match, the player calls out KOKONANA! then flips them back down. If they match, they remain revealed and you get a bonus hop. You can choose to forgo the bonus movement and take a Talisman instead. You’ll be able to spend them later for a free hop or to peek at a tile.

Player reaching the sandbar to collect a key for opening the temple in Kokonana family board game. - SahmReviews.com

Halfway across the board, between the shallow and deep water grids is a sandbar. As players make it there, they’ll select a key before continuing to match and traverse the deep water. You’ll continue with the same rules of hopping, flipping, (hopefully) matching and working your way across.

Checking to see if the key matches the temple tile in Kokonana family board game. - SahmReviews.com

When you reach the Temple riverbank, on your turn you may only Peek at one Temple tile (instead of Hop and Flip). If it doesn’t match, turn it back down for someone else to find. If it does match, you’re the winner of Kokonana!

It’s a different take on a memory game while also focusing on being entertaining for younger players. I’m looking forward to trying it out with my niece, but I already can predict that she’ll probably kick my butt. It will be awesome. If you are looking for a copy of Kokonana, check with your local game store or order online from Amazon. Even if your kids are too young for this one, it’s okay. There are rules for even younger kids. Never too young to start playing games!

What types of games do you play with younger members of your extended family?

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