There are some games that redefine the way a family or social group gather and interact. A great game like Shake ‘n Take, introduced at the right time, will (pardon the pun) shake things up. After we played this game the first time, there has rarely been a gathering that goes by in which someone does not ask if we have time for Shake ‘n Take. For all the adrenaline junkies in my social cadre, there is no better fix than a game that boils down to circling pictures on a dry-erase board.
To recap: you have a card with 70 aliens. You must be the first to circle them all. You roll a die to find out which shape to circle and all the while your neighbor is frantically shaking another die until an alien head pops up. When the alien appears, your neighbor snatches the marker from your hand without so much as a “Thanks for the probe!” and starts to circle his or her aliens.
With all the rattling, rolling, circling, and snatching the game produces a truly disorienting level of chaos. Fun chaos. Any game in which someone can fall off their chair trying to hold on to their pen in order to circle one more alien is a game worth keeping. Especially when there is no time to do anything more but get back up, choke back the gales of laughter, and scream at the person with the alien shaker to “Hurry UP!! I need the pen!!”
Sure, there’s a lot of luck that directs the flow of the game, but pattern recognition is important as is a clear strategy for keeping track of the alien shapes. There is enough skill that when you have the pen, you can make the most out of your time, even if you don’t know how long it will be.
What also impresses me about the game is how engaging it is even for the players who do not have anything to do. Shake ‘n Take excels where so many other games get bogged down because the players who are not actively shaking or circling are gripped with such a fierce anticipation. You never know when it will be your turn, and you have to be constantly vigilant. Constantly ready. Shake ‘n Take maintains a high level of urgency for everyone, and as everyone gets down to those last few aliens, the stakes (and the noise) increase.
I might not be able to keep the alien-shaped pen in my hand for very long, but this is one game that I will keep no matter where I get beamed.
Shake ‘n Take concept by Keith Meyers. Illustration and graphics by John Kovalic and Cathleen Quinn-Kinney. © 2010 Out of the Box Publishing.