Entries in Board Games (7)


Shake Out! Review

Staking your claim in Shake Out!

Bring a dictionary when sitting down to play Shake Out!  Not because the dice game plays anything like Scrabble.  Instead, the dictionary will help in the search for that perfect word for trash talking your opponent.  It’ll happen quite often.

The dice game consists of piles of cards with the tops of each deck laying face up.  Those face up cards explain what sort of roll is needed, such as a straight or three of a kind, to lay a claim on the card.  Successfully stake a claim on a card and earn points. 

The trash talking comes into play because your opponents will actively try to block you from getting points.  If they roll a higher number, they can lay claim on a card that you had put stakes on previously.  Since it’s in everyone’s interest to stop their opponents from getting points while trying to get their own, this will happen a lot.

Louis-Nicolas Dozois, the creator of Shake Out!, seen here sporting a Bender phone cozy.The game itself is pretty easy to learn.  The game will be set up with everyone playing in no time.  Louis-Nicolas Dozois, the local native who created the game, explains that he wanted a game that was simple to learn yet had enough depth to have everyone coming back for more.

To see whether he was successful or not, I invited a few friends over to play the game.  Two of them are the type that love the more strategically minded games such as Settlers of Catan. The other, meanwhile, mainly loves more party oriented games like Taboo or Cranium.

Everyone picked up the rules quickly after the brief explanation. From there, everyone quickly began trying to one up each other. Everyone was smiling throughout the game.

When it was over, I asked whether they would come over if I specifically invited them to play the game.  The answer was an unequivocal yes.

In fact the only criticism that anyone could lay on this game was the design and packaging.  One thought that the cards themselves looked a little bland. I suppose that is a valid claim, though I’m not sure how much you can do with a picture of dice to make it visually appealing.

Meanwhile, everyone thought that the packaging was a bit excessive.  The game consists of a deck of cards and a pack of dice.  Yet, it comes it the standard board game package so it’s a noticeable bit of wasted material.  I checked into the options he had for packaging at his publisher’s website and found he didn’t have many options.  If he ever switches publishers, hopefully he’ll take that under consideration.

In the end, though, this game is a blast to play.  The rules can be picked up quickly yet the game isn’t mindless.  Everyone will have a fun time.  I can’t think of any higher praise than that.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a new word to express just how badly you’ve beaten your opponent, might I suggest “fustigate”?



A day of fun and games


Keegan MacDonell and MacKenzie Shaheen from Mrs. Tiggy Winkle's playing a game of Quiddler

The crowds lined up early Saturday morning, February 18th at the Nepean Sportsplex.  Everyone stood there eagerly awaiting for the doors to open. Some have been waiting for hours.  Then, at nine o’clock a.m., the doors opened to let the enthusiastic crowd in.  This was day two of Game Summit 2012.

“The show gets better every year,” said Gary from Toys on Fire. “It’s incredible!”

Launched back in 2008, it expanded quickly from an attendance of around 100 people at the Canadian War Museum to Saturday’s total of more than 1000 people at the Nepean Sportsplex.

There are all sorts of board games for everyone to try out.  There is family friendly fare such as Quiddler, a scrabble like card game.  Then there are the more niche games such as Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons. 

Those who volunteer here are avid enthusiasts themselves. Some of the organizers even took it upon themselves to rescue “Game Day” tables from destruction.  The tables, which were created by Games Workshop for the Game Day events, feature some lovingly crafted tables.  Every facet of this table looks like weeks of work were put into it.  They’re here today solely because the organizers and volunteers didn’t want to see the work destroyed and knew those in the tournament would appreciate playing on them.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have board game designers who are demonstrating their creations and trying to generate interest.  It wasn’t uncommon to find a game by a local designer become a new favourite.

“This is the new Yahtzee for my family,” said Sen-Foon Lim regarding the board game Shake Out by local creator Louis-Nicolas Dozois.

A risky move by a Jenga playerPerhaps the reason why this event has grown tremendously in such a short time is the inclusiveness of the crowd.  It wasn’t uncommon for someone to get invited to a game with total strangers.  Wander around aimlessly for a while and the invitations to join a game would come flooding in.  It’s impossible to be at Game Summit and not have fun.

“This is the one show where I have the most fun” said Gary.

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