Designer: Keith Meyers (2011)
Publisher(s): Out of the Box
# of Players: 2-10
Play Time: 20 minutes
BGG Rank/Rating: N/A
Category: Party Game
I didn’t quite know what to think when I read the press release about Shake ‘n Take. Capturing aliens and grabbing markers from other players? I was a little hesitant, but also intrigued enough to ask for a review copy, and so far at least, I’m very glad that I did.
Game Basics (click here for complete game rules)
Shake ‘n Take is really simple. Every player has a mat covered in pictures of aliens that mostly resemble different shapes. The goal is to be the first person to “capture” all their aliens by circling them all with the special alien-themed dry erase marker. To do that, you roll the shape die and start circling as fast as you can. If you get all of one shape, you can re-roll the die and start circling aliens of the new shape you rolled, and you can keep re-rolling and circling until you catch ’em all or your turn ends.
However, at the same time, the player to your right is also busy shaking a little egg-shaped dice-rolling thingy that contains another die. This die is mostly blank except for one face that has an alien head on it. When shaking it, the die has to completely come out of the seat in the bottom of the egg thingy, and it has to come back to rest in the seat before you can count whatever you rolled (no nudging or shifting allowed!). And when they finally get the face to come up, they are allowed to reach right out and grab your alien-shaped marker right out of your hand and start taking their own turn.
And that’s the game. The marker and dice make their way around the table over and over again (leaving hands scarred with black dry-erase ink in their wake) until someone wins. And with 6-10 players, you actually have 2 sets of markers and dice going around the table for even more crazy and chaotic fun!
But before I get on with my opinions about the game, I want to talk a little about its components. At first glance, I think it’s only natural to look at this collection of rather unorthodox bits and assume that they are either extraneous or superfluous, inserted only to support the admittedly thin theme. However, after playing with them several times, I realize that a lot of thought went into pretty much everything.
The shaker egg thingy is necessary because in such a frenetic game, it would be really easy for the person rolling the alien die to cheat or fudge in the heat of the moment. And while it doesn’t completely remove that possibility, the egg and rules surrounding it at least put some sort of engineering control on that part of the game.
And then you’ve got the markers. First of all, they’re not actually custom-made markers. Instead, the green alien-head piece is actually a sleve that is fitted over a standard-sized dry erase marker. They intentionally designed it this way so that if the (very nice quality) markers ever dry up, you can buy another marker and just put the sleeve over it. But the design of the alien-head sleeve is really cool, because its extra length and bulbous head are clearly designed to make it easier for people to grab and steal away. In fact, I almost wonder if the theme was born more out of the design for these marker sleeves rather than vice versa.
The last thing I’ll mention briefly is that the player mats are actually double-sided, with the alien pictures on one side and then with just simple shapes on the other. The shape side is designed to be a little easier for younger children, which really opens up the game even more for families to play together.
What I Think…
After a number of plays now, I find that I really do like Shake ‘n Take. But my opinion of it is sort of predicated on the stipulation that it is definitely a party game. That means, of course, that you don’t really play Shake ‘n Take to win it, because while some people will inherently be better at the pattern recognition/speedy circling skill, the random factors of the game will almost always determine the winner. So instead, its value is going to come from the experience that it fosters in play.
And what is that experience? Shake ‘n Take is tense, frenetic, chaotic, exciting, silly, and most of all, fun. People are usually laughing, cheering, pleading for another player to hurry up and roll the stupid alien head, trying to focus and find that last heart-shaped alien on their mat, and generally having a far greater time than makes any sense.
Rolling the shape die!
Of course, some people are going to absolutely hate this game, and probably for good reason. In some ways, it’s almost hard to actually categorize it as a game at all, since there’s not much you can do to help yourself win. The chaotic energy in the game will certainly rub some people the wrong way, and I can see an occasional person practically getting offended by having the marker ripped from their hands over and over again.
But most people I’ve played Shake ‘n Take with have enjoyed it a lot. It’s works fine and is pretty fun with 2 or 3 players, but the game really comes into its own when you have enough players to have both sets of markers and dice floating around the group. I don’t know for sure, but my gut feeling is that 7-8 players is probably the sweet spot to have just the right balance of excitement and energy while still avoiding too many backlogs and much downtime.
And just to wrap up, I’ll also mention that I was actually able to sort of play this with my almost-3-year-old daughter as well. In her case, I mostly just let her roll the shape die and circle the correct shapes, and then took my own turn where she got to roll the alien die and grab the marker from me. It worked well, though, and I can certainly see a lot of potential for the game to grow with her and my other little girl as they get older.
I’ve always been a pretty big fan of party games (in the right context anyway), and Shake ‘n Take brings a very fun and unique experience to that setting that is great for adults and children alike.
- Rules: Very simple – it’s a party game, for goodness sake!
- Downtime: Very little – it depends on how many people are playing to some extent, but the game moves quickly and players tend to stay engaged in watching the action even when it’s not their turn.
- Length: 5-15 minutes
- Player Interaction: You get to grab a marker from someone’s hand, so I’d say pretty high.
- Overall Weight: Ultra-light
- GamerChris’ Rating: As a party game, I give it a solid 8/10