Parang, the Borneo ‘head-hunting’ game

  • The back of a Parang card
  • Parang at the Rainforest World Music Festival 2016
  • A game of Parang in full swing
  • Topeng beats 4 Parang
  • The wild card with Rafflesia
  • Parang!
  • A Parang game in session during the last preview
  • Beast of Borneo
  • Exciting new game Parang is here
Parang at the Rainforest World Music Festival 2016

Parang at the Rainforest World Music Festival 2016

It was while exploring the various stalls at the Rainforest World Music Festival 2016 that I stumbled upon Parang, the new game from publishing company Beast of Borneo, based in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. I got interested in the game thanks to the PR people present at the stall, who kindly invited me fort a game at the table set out in the sunshine. I sat with a guy and a girl and played my first game of Parang: it was love at first sight.
But let me give you a bit of a background on the the outfit behind this game. Beast of Borneo is a small local enterprise set out in Kuching and captained by Alex Jefferson, a British with a passion for Sarawak.

Exciting new game Parang is here

Exciting new game Parang is here

Their mission is to pry people away from their handphones and computers, bringing them together and helping to reconnect with each other again. Beast of Borneo hopes, through their socially interactive card games and board games, to gently poke players back into the immediate present, melting the glue that keeps them attached to their phones playing mobile games, and at the same time promoting the amazing heritage of the people of Sarawak. Everyone loves to play games, especially fun and easy to play games. Parang has all these qualities, as well as celebrating Sarawakian culture and environment.

Parang is simple to learn but quick and fun to play; it makes use of the traditional Dayak warrior equipment – swords, shields, hornbill feathers and masks.

Topeng beats 4 Parang

Topeng beats 4 Parang

The players challenge each other for Head Trophies (Antu Pala), and only the player with the highest number of Antu Pala at the end of the game is the winner. The challenges are are meant to out-play and out-wit your opponents and are played adopting the more familiar rock-paper-scissors concept but using the familiar Sarawakian icons as the Terabai (shield), the Bulu (hornbill feather) and the Parang (sword). Parang can be played head-to-head in a two-player game or in a three or four player game. One of the great things about Parang is that even the weak cards have a chance to beat the strong ones, so you have to choose wisely about when and where to play each card, trying to remember the cards your opponents have already used.

The back of a Parang card

The back of a Parang card

Creator Alex Jefferson, who feels at home in the land of the headhunters showed up for a chat. He told me that it took him and the team one and a half year to put Parang together. Apparently the game was too complicated at first, so he chose to simplify it, getting to the final version through trying out a lot of different versions to see what worked and what wouldn’t. He also told me that the response from their first pre-launch game back in May was largely positive thanks to its easy-to-play and fun factors.
I thanked Alex and went back to the table, where I manage to lose not one but two games with experienced Beast of Borneo staff; however, my loss was not so bad, plus they told me I was a ‘fast-learner’ – whether they told me so to make me buy the game or because they believed so, it is hard to say… Over all, Parang is fun whether you play casually or if you have a good enough memory to count cards. I bought a deck of course, and I have been playing with friends since getting back home. And everyone loves it!
INFO FOR PARANG CARDS

antu-pala

antu-pala

parang

parang

terabai

terabai

bulu

bulu

topeng

topeng

wild

wild

Antu Pala – heads were collected by warriors for power, status and strength, but they were also used for magical protection and a bountiful harvest. These are collected in order to win the game.
Parang – a sword essential for cutting trails through the dense rainforests of Borneo, as well as the perfect weapon for collecting heads.

Terabai – these shields are always decorated with ornate designs, and are the physical protection a warrior needs in battle.

Bulu – feathers from Hornbill that adorn the headgear of warriors.

Topeng – this mask was worn during rituals of fertility and protection of crops, and was also worn by the Shaman who used it to scare away the bad spirits that cause illness.
Wild – the great Rafflesia is one of the wild flower of Borneo rainforest, who need to be revered and respected. The Rafflesia is the largest flower in the world. Read about Rafflesia HERE or HERE
Bunga Terung – these are powerful sign of protection and new life, traditionally tattooed onto the shoulders of Iban tribes boys when their journey begins to become men.

A Parang game in session during the last preview

A Parang game in session during the last preview

Beast of Borneo has been going around teaching people how to play Parang since its debut in May 2016. Beast of Borneo guarantees every game they create is original and unique; once you play with them, you will want to play over and over again. Parang is now on shelves at major shops and convenience stores in Kuching, and will be available to purchase online on http://beastofborneo.com/online-order/ . The price is RM25.00 \ £5 GBP \ $7 USD \ €6.50 Euro each deck excludes postage & packaging.
For updates of their next game, check out https://www.facebook.com/borneobeast/http://beastofborneo.com – or email beastofborneo@gmail.com

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About the author

Thomas has a university background in the UK and in Latin America, with studies in Languages and Humanities, Culture, Literature and Economics. He started his Asian experience as a publisher in Krabi in 2005. Thomas has been editing local newspapers and magazines in England, Spain and Thailand for more then fifteen years. He is currently working on several projects in Thailand and abroad. Apart from Thailand, Thomas has lived in Italy, England, Venezuela, Cuba, Spain and Bali. He spends most of his time in Asia. During the years Thomas has developed a great understanding of several Asian cultures and people. He is also working freelance, writing short travel stories and articles for travel magazines. Follow Thomas on www.asianitinerary.com

View all articles by Thomas Gennaro