SNAP Review – SHOBU: Beautifully Challenging
SHOBU is an abstract game for two players ages 8+, designed by Manolis Vranas and Jamie Sajdak of Seesaw Games and published by Smirk & Laughter.
Asher and Anitra tell you about this game in less than 6 minutes. Listen or read on below.
How to Play
Set out the 4 player boards. Each player gets a light colored board and a dark board, with a rope separating “your” boards from your opponent.
Every board is 4 spaces wide and 4 spaces long. Place 4 stones in your color along the edge closest to you and 4 stones in your opponents’ color on the farthest edge.
Your goal: remove all your opponent’s stones from any ONE of the 4 boards.
On your turn, you’ll first make a “passive” move and then an “aggressive” move.
The passive move must be on one of the boards on your own side. Move any of your pieces 1 or 2 spaces in any straight line (including diagonally). You may not touch or jump over any other pieces.
Make a matching “aggressive move” on either board that is the opposite color from the passive move.
Your aggressive move must match the direction & number of spaces as the passive move (but not necessarily the position).
On your aggressive move, you MAY push an opponent’s stone. Try to maneuver to push it off any edge of the board! (You may not push more than one stone.)
Remove all 4 of your opponent’s stones from a single board to win!
SHOBU is an abstract two player game, and immediately feels classic. The tagline on the box is “beautifully challenging” which is completely true.
Simple components from lovely natural materials (wooden boards, polished stones) invite you to play. The simplicity even invites spectators to get involved, since there is nothing hiding any of the strategy.
Everything about this game says “Touch me! Play this game!”Anitra
Asher likes finding a plan, getting stopped by an opponent’s clever move, then finding a new even better plan.
Don’t narrow your focus too much! Try to use your “passive” moves to get those pieces in position, even as you also use “active” (aggressive) moves to knockout your opponent. Instead, try to find the aggressive move you want to do, and then plan a passive move that will support it.
SHOBU is a game that immediately challenges you to look ahead and outwit your opponent. Anitra was introduced to it at Origins 2019 by a fellow reviewer who said “you HAVE to play this”. Within an hour of trying it, she was pulling more people in to try it. The simplicity of play but variety of situations keeps us coming back again and again.
The Family Gamers received a copy of SHOBU from Smirk & Laughter Games for this review.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
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- Asher's rating
- Anitra's rating
Number of Players: 2
Age Range: 8+
Play Time: 15-20 minutes