How to Play
To begin the game assemble the gameboard. Randomly select six palm reading, punch board, dog house, snake charmer, guess weight?, auction block and balloono cards. All of the hold everything cards are used. All of the cards are placed in their corresponding spaces on the gameboard. Each player takes a playing piece.
During each players turn they spin the spinner and perform an action based on what space they land on.
Shenaniganzas Spaces: The player receives the number of Shenanigans that are printed on the space.
Palm Reading: Read the next palm reading card and perform the action written on the back.
Lose Turn: The player loses their next turn.
Punch Board: The player reads the next punch board card and performs the action on the back.
Go To The Dog House: The player goes to the dog house space. Another player takes the top dog house card. The player who landed on the space tries to guess the animal on the card by making the corresponding sound. If they guess right they can spin again. If they are wrong they need to wait till their next turn to guess again. The player stays on the dog house space until they can correctly guess the animal.
Hold Everything: The player takes one card at a time and flips it over. The player can either continue flipping over cards or they can stop at any time. The player receives money equal to the values printed on the cards. If the player draws the “While you were picking this up you dropped your last toy” card the player’s turn is over and they need to discard the last toy card they drew. They then get money equal to the value of the rest of their cards.
Free Turn: If you land on a free turn space you get to spin the spinner again.
Bowlaganza: If you land on a bowlaganza space you get to roll a number of bowling balls equal to the number on the space you landed on. The player must roll the ball from behind the foul line. The player gets money based on where the bowling balls land. The player gets $10 for the outer ring, $25 for the middle ring, and $50 for the center hole.
Snake Charmer: The player takes the top card and flips it over. The player receives the amount of money printed on the card.
Pie in the Eye: The player gets to use the large tiddly wink to try and shoot the small tiddly winks through the hole in the board. The felt pad is placed in front of the blue space. The player gets to flick each small tiddly wink once. For each one that goes through the hole, the player gets $50.
Auctioneer: The top card is put up for auction without any of the players looking at the other side. Players need to bid in increments of 10. Whoever wins the auction pays the amount they bid and they receive from the bank the amount listed on the back of the card.
Guess Weight?: The player needs to guess the weight on the next card by moving the pointer to a spot between two of the black numbers. The card is then flipped over. If the player guessed correctly they get $50. If they guess incorrectly they get nothing.
Bolloono: The player flips over the top card. The player can keep flipping over additional cards or can stop at any time. If the player stops before drawing a bust card, they get money equal to the numbers on the back of the cards. If they don’t stop before drawing a bust card, the player doesn’t get any money.
Detour-Go To Midway: The player gets to keep spinning the spinner while going through the obstacle course. The player keeps spinning until they land on a red space. When they land on a red space they need to wait until their next turn to spin again.
Turnabout: When a player lands on this space they spin the spinner again and they go back that many spaces.
Finish: If the player doesn’t go through the detour, the player must land on the finish space by exact count. If the player went through the detour they can land on the finish space not by exact count. The first player to reach the finish space gets $50.
Whoever has the most money at the end of the game wins.
Back in 1964, ABC aired a television show called Shenanigans. The show aired for two seasons on Saturday mornings. On the show child contestants would essentially play a life-size version of a board game. They would move along the board collecting “shenanigans” which could be cashed in for prizes at the end of the game. As a companion for the television show, Milton Bradley made a board game based on the television show.
As a child I vaguely remember playing this game (many years after the show went off the air). I didn’t remember any specific details about the game but I remember having some fun playing the game. After finding the game at a thrift store I decided to give the game a try. The game has some merits but it suffers from being way too simplistic.
My thoughts on the individual games are as follows:
- Palm Reading, Punch Board, Snake Charmer: None of these can really even be considered games. You just draw a card and do what it says.
- Dog House: A simple guessing game where you need to guess the animal on the card. This game could get somewhat frustrating if you keep picking the wrong animals since you could be stuck playing this game for several turns and their is no reward to completing the game.
- Hold Everything, Balloono: A simple press your luck game. You draw cards and get the corresponding cash. You have to quit before drawing the losing card though. These two games are decent since you actually have some impact on the games. The games are highly luck based though since you can only guess at what is coming next. Of all of the games these two probably reward players with the most cash.
- Bowlaganza: Either the best or second best game in Shenanigans. Like Pie in the Eye, Bowlaganza is the only game that you have total control over. Bowlaganza is not surprising just bowling without the pins. The balls don’t always roll straight though so you need to get kind of lucky for the balls to roll right.
- Pie in the Eye: Like Bowlaganza, Pie in the Eye actually requires player skill. Pie in the Eye is essentially Tiddly Winks so if you like Tiddly Winks you will most likely like Pie in the Eye. Pie in the Eye is the hardest game and takes a while to get used to. On top of the difficulty you only get $50 for each one you get through the hole so the reward is not particularly good. In my opinion it is the funnest game in Shenanigans.
- Auctioneer: Essentially an auction game. You bid on the item and hope not to overpay for it. There is nothing special to the game.
- Guess Weight: A simple guessing game. You just need to guess the weight range printed on the card. There is no skill involved since there is nothing you can do except for randomly guessing. You essentially have a one in six chance of guessing correctly. With only a $50 reward for guessing correctly, Guess Weight is not a very rewarding game.
As you can see most of the games are entirely luck based. All but Bowlaganza and Pie in the Eye rely heavily on luck. Shenanigans as a whole does not have a lot of skill to it. Whichever player is luckiest is going to win the game. You usually will earn more money on the luck based games than on the skill based games. The most money you can earnon a turn (unless you are really lucky in Hold Everything or Balloono) is just by landing on the $200 Shenanigans space. If you land on this space you are almost guaranteed to win since the winner of the game I played barely had $200 total. Also whoever gets to the finish line first is likely to win the game since no one is likely to have built up a big enough lead to overcome the $50 bonus for finishing first.
Due to its’ age and its’ target audience of children you can’t be too harsh on the game though. Children’s games from the 1960’s were for the most part luck based as well. I actually think the Shenanigans game could have been quite a bit better than most children’s games of its’ era if there were more interactive games. If all of the games were like Pie in the Eye and Bowlganza, Shenanigans could have been a fun game full of little mini games.
One thing I was disappointed with was the length of the game. The game claims that it lasts 20 minutes but the game I played was closer to 10-15 minutes. With its’ rules the game seems to end as soon as it gets started. The problem with the length is that you don’t even get to play all of the games. I would say on average each player in the game I played ended up only playing at most half of the games. Between all of the players I think all of the games were played but most were only played once. The game should have found a way to make it more likely for each player to play most of the games. I think the game should have made players keep going around the board until they accumulated a certain amount of Shenanigans.
While the game is pretty simplistic for adults, I think kids could enjoy the game. The game has a recommended age of 5-12. I think kids on the lower end of that spectrum will have the most fun with the game. If you are an adult and have no fond memories playing the game as a child, I don’t see any reason why you should bother with Shenanigans. People who have nostalgia for the game though might get some enjoyment out of the game.
Overall the components are decent. Due to its’ age you are unlikely to find a copy in great condition. The cards are made of cardboard so they are likely to have some creases. The copy of the game I found had a warped board which did affect the Bowlganza game. The gameboard is pretty colorful and reminiscent of a cheesy 1960’s game show. Otherwise the components are what you would expect from a 1960’s board game.
Overall Shenanigans is not a terrible game but for adults it is too simplistic. Only two of the mini games involve any real skill and the winner of the game will always come down to which player is luckiest. If you fondly remember playing the game as a child you may get more out of the game. I think younger children will enjoy the game quite a bit more than adults and my overall rating of the game reflects this.
At the time of this review, Shenanigans is a pretty rare and expensive game. Due to its’ cost I would probably only consider purchasing the game if you have a lot of nostalgia for the game. Otherwise I would recommend passing since there are a lot better games that are a lot cheaper.
Tuesday 5th of May 2020
I just found one piece of my old Shenanigans board game and had to find out what it was all about. I kind of remember the tv show which is strange because at that age I should be able to remember anything. I do remember playing the game and liking it. I was thinking maybe to try and recreate the board game since I can see all the graphics. Maybe I could add a few more games and rules. Why can't MB reproduce some of these old tried and true games for a new audience and for those looking for nostalgic games.
Tuesday 5th of May 2020
Occasionally Milton Bradley (now published under the name of Hasbro after being acquired by it) does re-release some of the older games from their past. It doesn't happen all that often though. I am guessing it is mostly due to them not thinking these older board games will sell very well. In the case of Shenanigans I am guessing that is part of the reason as the show last aired in the 1960s and most people have probably never heard of it before. I personally never even knew the show existed and was only familiar with the board game which my Aunt owned when I was a kid. Only later did I learn that it was based on a show. Another reason Shenanigans will probably never be reprinted is due to licensing reasons as at this point it might be hard to track down who owns the rights to Shenanigans.
As for reproducing some older Milton Bradley games I totally agree with you. As a fan of rummage sales and thrift stores I have acquired a lot of older Milton Bradley games over the years. While a lot of them aren't very good, you occasionally find that hidden gem that was lost to time for some reason. Either the game didn't sell well or people didn't think the game would sell well today which has prevented them from being reprinted.
Monday 12th of June 2017
I love this i got it in 1964 and Stubby Kaye on tv was awesome i loved the gameboard .as a kid then or tv film historian today i love these game show board games of a great era in tv simple clean fun wish i had the game today no fun getting old.Shenighoul sadly isnt inthe game at home tho
Friday 16th of June 2017
Hi Mort its Tom Kessel tv film historian collector on old Hollywood since 1958 Im on FB IMDB and YT I want to thank you, This is a great Website its a great one I have my own Hollywood museum here 7000 films 1600 movie tv books magazines 27,000 songs, posters n stills Yes as a kid I grew up with tv game shows I love so many WHATS MY LINE I just bought. I hope to showcase if we followers here are allowed to post or if not I love to see a review of Whats My Line on this page. I love these games I had as a kid Im collecting them still in my retirement, Shenanigans 1964-65 tho short lived was a gam I cherished They just dont make gameshows or board games like these anymore, Heartfelt thanks to you and all. TomK
Monday 27th of February 2017
Thank you so much for this detailed review with all the photographs. As I do have fond memories of this game, both on TV and as a board game, I plan to purchase it down the line. I doubt I'll ever play it, but I will enjoy looking at it when I'm old (eh, older).