Updated: Jan 10
It's Nothing Personal, It's Just Business
Hello my wonderful readers! This week we are taking a look at a successfully funded Kickstarter project that very recently shipped to its backers. Shake Up is a 2 player (or up to 4 players with 2 copies) reverse deck building card game designed by Dominic Michael H. and published by Medieval Lords. One of the largest IT companies has become far too bloated. They're facing bankruptcy and they need your top-notch business plan to get them back in the game.
1) Brilliantly Themed Deck Deconstruction
The promise of this game is streamlined, reverse deck-building in 30 minutes or less, and boy oh boy does this game deliver on that promise. While traditional deck-building games focus in on building up a thin and initially weak deck with stronger and stronger cards, Shake Up takes this concept and flip-flops it on its head. Instead of starting with a small deck, players start with a large and bogged down deck filled with a wide variety of different cards (some more useful than others). Your goal, like in a traditional deck building games, is still to make your deck better. But instead of adding cards to your deck to improve it, you remove cards.
So why are you getting rid of cards? Because these cards represent the many different employees that this company employs. The company has become far too bloated, and the only way to fix its over-employment issue is with layoffs. Every single employee has a salary, so you have to decide which employees are worth spending your income on to keep and which employees are not. This mechanic just makes so much sense in this context and it works so incredibly well! In less than 30 minutes, you'll slim this bulky and unprofitable corporation into a small and efficient money-making machine.
2) Functional Card Sleeves
Your employees are not stuck with the same abilities throughout the entire game. People can be trained to be better and your employees are no exception. In Shake Up, another critical way that you can improve your deck is by upgrading the employees that you haven't laid off. How do you do this? By using the handy-dandy, super premium card sleeves that come included in the game!
But these sleeves aren't just decorative or for protecting the cards, they serve a functional purpose. Every employee has a basic and an upgraded side. When an employee is upgraded, you simply take the card out of the sleeve, flip it over 180˚, and put it back into the sleeve. As the cards in your deck are discarded and reshuffled, you will keep track of which way is face-up based on the artwork on the back of the sleeves. There aren't many games that come with card sleeves, let alone sleeves that actually serve a purpose. It's refreshing to see card sleeves actually utilized in such an important way.
3) Multiple Paths to Victory
It's important for a game to be balanced and support many different strategies for winning. Most euro games do this by having the goal be to get the most victory points and have victory points be gainable in a wide variety of different ways. Some games, however, like Shake Up, instead include completely different win conditions (another great example of a game that does this is 7 Wonders Duel).
In Shake Up, there are 3 different ways to win. You can win by calling an economic audit and seeing if your total income exceeds your total debt and salaries, you can win by calling a technical audit and seeing if you have at least 12 upgraded employee cards, or you can win by having the highest total income when any one of the income and loan decks run out. A big part of this game is knowing what the state of your corporation deck is at any given time so that you can know which victory condition you have the best shot of achieving and going towards. Every game, your strategies will change and your deck will become vastly different from the last game you played based on what cards you and your opponents draw each turn. Every game feels fresh, which is always a good thing.
So there you have it. Those are 3 things that I love about Shake Up.
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