What Is Yogi?
Yogi is a game that will have 3-10 players twisting themselves into human pretzels conceived by Behrooz ‘Bez’ Shahriari and illustrated in a lovely cartoon style by Simon Caruso.
Yogi comes with 54 PVC cards, very simple rules and 2 slanted cards holders for easy access.
How Do I Yogi?
Teaching this game is as simple as taking the cards from the box and asking a player to draw a card and perform the action as described. The game continues clockwise from the starting player, with players drawing a card from the top of either of the 2 card holders and obeying that action until the game ends. If any player fails to comply with any of the cards they have drawn during the game, then they are out. The last player standing (or braided into a plait) is the winner.
There are two types of card in the box, green and orange.
Green cards are actions that will be placed in front of a player so everyone knows what they should be doing. These cards will state objectives like ‘Right thumb pointing down’, ‘Finger touching right shoe’, ‘Left wrist bent’ or ‘Two hands touching’.
Orange cards will need to be placed or held somewhere on a player’s body such as ‘Between chin and chest’, ‘On top of head’, ‘On back of right hand’ or ‘Touching a knee’.
As you sit around the table and decide which player is the most zen to determine who is the starting player, as per the instructions in the rules, you might wonder whether there is an advantage to going first. When that person then draws a card that has them ‘Touching one ear on a shoulder’ for the entire of the game. You can only hope that your first card is more forgiving.
Yogi is one game where I have ended up folded up like a medieval knot garden and it was simply pure willpower and stubbornness that kept me going. Each round I was watching my opponents struggle to draw a card or collapse in a twisted heap knowing that I just had to hold on long enough and I could actually win.
Yogi is how I remember seeing Twister represented in television ads as a child. I have found myself countless times playing this game with my legs crossed, one arm behind my back, my chin on my chest, a card held to my eyebrow and another covering my eye desperately trying to scrape a card from the card holder and flip it by dragging it off the table onto the floor and hoping I do not have to pick it up.
The cards are PVC and seem quite resistant to some of the awkward positions that they might go through, but this is not a game you can be particularly precious about the components. I have not had any trouble with cards being damaged, just a little bent from being sat on.
Yogi suggests 3-10 players.
I personally have found no reason not to play 2 player and even solo if you fancy competing against yourself just to see how many cards you can successfully do at once. I have also found this as a good way to get others involved and playing as they want to try for themselves.
I have played mostly below the 5/6 player count and can imagine that at 10 players, the positions people are holding may become too uncomfortable with the game lasting that little extra time.
Physically Tied In Knots
As you may have gleaned, Yogi is a very physical game, involving twisting and moving your body into awkward and challenging positions which can sometimes be quite uncomfortable, especially when held for minutes at a time. This is the fun of the game but in terms of accessibility it could be a barrier to entry for some players.
When playing with my father he was unable to follow some of the cards instructions which involved his knees or bending too much so we let him skip those.
There is a team variant for Yogi which has players forming teams of 2 or 3 and deciding which of them is going to do which action and as long as one member of the team is doing the action, the game continues. This could be helpful for some players who are unable to follow certain instructions but cannot fix the issue entirely.
I thoroughly enjoy Yogi every time I play, each game I play has made me laugh at some point and I have fun whether I am winning or losing. The art amuses me, and I really enjoy the details and expressiveness of the characters. If you are looking for a party game with simple rules that is easy to teach and quick to setup, with a physical challenge baked in, then this might appeal to you.