Indonesian card games

With social distancing rules in place, the digital world has become a refuge of sorts for millions of Indonesians. While we could spend hours watching films online or playing video games, we need a break from our screens every now and then.

Luckily, there’s been a wave of locally made Indonesian card games that are just as good as classics such as UNO and Monopoly. If you’re looking for something fun to do while being stuck at home, these card games with local flavor will make for a perfect family game night.

1. Laga Jakarta – going through the typical Jakarta daily grind

indonesian board games laga jakarta
A look at how Laga Jakarta is played
Image credit: @gegemania

Travel enough around the world and you’ll notice no city can ever match the chaotic delight that is Jakarta. Life in the city might be put on hold while we battle COVID-19 but you can safely emulate Jakarta’s daily grind with Laga Jakarta.

The gist of the game is simple – players start out in one of the low-level jobs picked at random and win points by fulfilling their given dreams or by moving up to better jobs. The dreams are very on-brand, with the more eclectic examples being petting a tiger at the Safari Zoo and working as an ondel-ondel respectively.

indonesian board games laga jakarta odong
A odong-odong operator card depicting the driver of a pedicab-mounted kiddie ride, one of the many esoteric jobs available in the game
Image credit:

Fulfilling those goals requires three resources – money, skill, and gengsi, or prestige, – with each job paying out different amounts. All of this is played over events familiar to most Jakartans, with the seasonal flooding and protests at Bundaran HI serving as obstacles in your pursuit of happiness.

As the game has a time limit, it’s very unlikely you’d get to see all of the jobs, dreams, and events in a single session, making it perfect for repeat plays. Personally, we’d come up with any excuse just to ogle at the cute illustrations Laga Jakarta has provided in the game.

Recommended number of players: 2-5
For ages: 14 and above
Price: Rp. 280,000 (~USD19.04)
Difficulty level: Challenging

Get it at Tokopedia.

2. Circus Politicus – strategize, lie, and cheat your way through an imaginary election

indonesian board games circus politicus
What’s inside the package
Image credit: @mosquitoplaygames

TOGE Productions is better known for their video games, with their visual novel Coffee Talk earning nods from gaming blog Kotaku, but they’ve dipped their toes into the Indonesian tabletop game scene as well. First released in the middle of Indonesia’s election year in 2019, Circus Politicus serves as their debut.

As its name implies, the game is TOGE’s attempt at portraying the absurdities of the political circus. Here, you can face off one-on-one against another candidate or form a coalition with another candidate and face off against another pair.

indonesian board games circus politicus toge
Two pairs of candidates facing off against each other
Image credit: @prabubejoslamet

The goal of the game is straightforward, each side must gain the most votes by either making the biggest campaign promises or by smartly outmanoeuvring your opponent. Each candidate also has their own victory conditions, which if the opponent fails to prevent, grants you an immediate landslide victory.

If the candidate looks and sounds familiar, that’s because TOGE takes inspiration from several real political figures. So if you’re curious what a coalition of ‘Ji Xinping’ from China and ‘Donold Trump’ of the United States can do together, here’s your chance to find out.

Recommended number of players: 2-4
For ages: 15 and above
Price: Rp. 200,000 (~USD13.59)
Difficulty level: Moderate

Get it at Tokopedia.

3. Santai Aja Lagi – R-rated card game for Kids Jaman Now

indonesian board games santai aja lagi
The cards in a Santai Aja Lagi box
Image credit:

Undeniably rude but just as hilarious, Cards Against Humanity has become something of a sensation since it was first released in 2011. And now, Indonesian players get to partake in the fun as Santai Aja Lagi brings the popular card game to our shores with a dash of local flavor.

Instead of references to Jay-Z or Batman, you’re getting questions and answers that only citizens of negara +62 would know. There’s the Meikarta real estate development project, local singer-songwriter Raisa, and even references to the cheesy reality dating show Take Me Out.

indonesian board games santai aja lagi cardgame
A question and several answers from the game
Image credit: @sal.cardgame

The rules of the game remain the same, with each player providing their best answer to the question given in each round. Do note, however, that the questions and answers in the game aren’t exactly Disney-approved so this might not be a good fit for family game night.

With a minimal learning curve and huge player count, Santai Aja Lagi is the ideal option if your friends aren’t that familiar with Indonesian card games.

Recommended number of players: 4-20
For ages: 17 and above
Price: Rp. 285,000 (~USD19.37)
Difficulty level: Easy

Get it at Tokopedia.

4. Waroong Wars 2nd Edition – outcook your warung competitors

indonesian board games waroong wars
Several dishes and ingredients available in the game
Image credit:

The winner of the Kompas Board Game Challenge in 2015, Waroong Wars remains one of the more popular Indonesian card games. Being culinary-themed, the game also lets players enjoy drool-worthy illustrations of traditional Javanese dishes such as Nasi Rawon and Tahu Tek while they try to best other warung competitors.

indonesian board games waroong wars 2nd
A game of Waroong Wars being played
Image credit: @cinggggggg

In this game, each player acts as a warung owner and must strive to be the number one warung. To do that, they’re required to gather ingredients and cook a variety of dishes to bring in more customers.

The twist lies in the unique abilities of each customer which can potentially change the tide of the game. The perayu (flirt) for example, can steal one random customer from other players but this effect can be negated by the hansip (neighborhood security officer), giving an additional layer to the game.

Recommended number of players: 3-5
For ages: 8 and above
Price: Rp. 210,000 (~USD14.27)
Difficulty level: Moderate

Get it at Tokopedia.

5. Kopi Dash – run a coffee shop together with your friends

indonesian board games kopi dash
Figuring out what each customer wants by matching customer cards to food and drink cards
Image credit:

Nothing defines Indonesian millennials more than their undying thirst for coffee. It’s no surprise then that Mahavira Studio ran with this idea and created a coffee-themed card game with Kopi Dash.

In this game, players are tasked with fulfilling customer orders using ingredients – coffee, milk, sugar, and extras – that they have on hand. Unlike typical card games, Kopi Dash is played cooperatively and there are no designated turns.

indonesian board game kopi
Several customer cards available in the game
Image credit:

The somewhat hectic nature of the game is meant to emulate running a coffee shop during rush hours. Mahavira also went to a lot of effort in referencing local customer stereotypes in its game’s customer cards, which include Wi-Fi freeloaders who’re called fakir kuota, or the lovelorn, who’re called budak cinta.

True to its name, Kopi Dash has a time limit of only 5 minutes per game. Coupled with the easy learning curve, the game’s ideal for quick play sessions when you have some time to kill with your friends.

Recommended number of players: 1-3
For ages: 12 and above
Price: Rp. 50,000 (~USD3.44)
Difficulty level: Easy

Get it at Tokopedia.

6. Cenayang – social party game for your ghibah-loving friends

indonesian board game cenayang
What’s inside the packaging
Image credit: @cenayang.boardgame

Winning in Cenayang isn’t about your understanding of the game nor the cleverness of your strategy, but it’s about knowing the skeletons in your friends’ closets. In this game of assumptions, you win points if you can correctly guess how other players are going to respond to your question based on topic cards.

Players must come up with a simple question with yes-or-no answers that’s based on the topic at hand using the phrase “between all of us here”. The only condition is that the question can’t revolve around general knowledge.

indonesian board games cenayang
Several of the 80 topics available in the game, printed on topic cards
Image credit: @cenayang.boardgame

For example, one of the topics included is about “mantan” or “exes”. Based on that prompt, you could pose a question along the lines of “Between all of us here, some are still in love with their exes” and watch as scandals explode between exes or couples playing with you right now.

As such, this game works best when played between close-knit friends but could also work as an ice-breaker similar to Never Have I Ever if you’re feeling bold.

Recommended number of players: 3-6
For ages: 14 and above
Price: Rp. 195,000 (~USD13.22)
Difficulty level: Easy

Get it at Tokopedia.

7. Linimasa Card Game Sejarah Indonesia – testing your knowledge of Indonesia’s fight for independence

A timeline of Indonesia’s fight for independence
Image credit: @boardgamegeek.salatiga

Sudirman and Thamrin are more than just street names and that’s the central idea running through Linimasa Card Game – Sejarah Indonesia. Here, what you remember from your school’s history classes gets tested as you’re faced with events and important figures from Indonesia’s turbulent history.

This is a 3-in-1 card game where players must correctly place cards on a timeline, match important historical figures with the events they’re associated with, or perform a combination of the two. If you’ve ever felt like your knowledge of the Dutch-Indonesian Round Table Conference had never been put to good use since high school, now’s your time to shine.

 linimasa sejarah indonesia
Bung Tomo brought to life using augmented reality
Image credit: @linimasa.sejarah.cardgame

For history buffs, Linimasa is also special as the cards are imbued with augmented reality (AR) capabilities. Scanning the card for Bung Tomo using an app, for example, summons a 3D figure of the national hero complete with a recording of his iconic speech during the Battle of Surabaya, a day which is now remembered as Indonesia’s Heroes’ Day.

Had we’ve known that learning about history could be this much fun, we probably wouldn’t have slept through our history classes back then.

Recommended number of players: 1-4
For ages: 8 and above
Price: Rp. 85,000 (~USD19.04)
Difficulty level: Easy if you paid attention in history class, of course. 

Get it at Tokopedia.

8. Kata Emak – grocery shopping for emak

kata emak
Inside emak’s shopping list
Image credit: @segaraid

Ah, grocery shopping for emak – a coming-of-age ritual that’s slowly disappearing now that everything can be done online. Luckily, we can all now feel that rush of having to live up to our moms’ expectations again thanks to the card game Kata Emak.

Here, players compete against each other to become the first to gather the 6 ingredients in emak’s grocery list. The game is conceptually similar to the classic card game tepok nyamuk, where concentration and reflexes reign supreme.

In tepok nyamuk, a typical playing card deck is split equally among players and each takes turns drawing cards while saying the next number in ascending order. If the card drawn matches the number or rank being said, players race to get their hands on the card.

kata emak
A look at how Kata Emak is played
Image adapted from RWHShadow

Kata Emak is mostly the same but instead of numbers, players say the name of the next ingredient on the list. The twist is that there are rotten variants of each ingredient and mistakenly getting them would result in a loss of points.

As there’s no strategic thinking involved, Kata Emak makes for a perfect pick-up-and-play Indonesian card game. Do note that things can get pretty dicey for your hand while playing and you should definitely avoid this if you just got your nails done.

Recommended number of players: 2-6
For ages: 9 and above
Price: Rp. 150,000 (~USD10.29)
Difficulty level: Easy

Get it at Tokopedia.

Indonesian card games to play with friends

While we love bonding over films and video games as much as the next person, we all need a timeout from our screens every now and then. We guarantee you that these locally made Indonesian card games will have you scheming to mess with your friends and families in no time.

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Cover image adapted from: @anandamanan and @sinidudukcafe

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