Shake That City
- Designer: Mads Fløe, Kåre Torndahl Kjær
- Publisher: AEG
- Players: 1-4
- Age: 10+
- Time: 30-40 minutes
- Played with copy provided by publisher
- Kickstarter link – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alderac/shake-that-city-from-aeg
In Shake That City, players strive to design the best city block, using cubes found in the novel Cube Shaker Device. Before your first play, you’ll have to follow the fairly detailed instructions on how to assemble said device, but once put together, you’ll never have to re-do that process. To setup the game, take all the wooden cubes and place them into the Cube Shaker device.
The game is played over 15 rounds, tracked on a handy reminder board. Each player gets a personal Player board (double sided) – but make sure that all players use the same side! Also make sure that all players place their board in the same orientation in front of themselves. Each player gets a set of bonus point tiles, and each player places the corner tile on the upper left corner of their board. One player randomizes the other 6 Bonus tiles, placing 3 along the top and 3 along the left. All other players copy this arrangement.
In each round, the active player gets to shake the Cube Shaker (making sure to leave it flat on the table), and this will reveal a 3×3 grid of colored blocks. The active player will choose one of the colors in the pattern and will place building tiles on their player board matching the pattern and orientation of the chosen cubes from the grid. You must be able to place all the tiles (equal to the number of cubes in the grid); and you cannot rotate them; the tiles must be placed in the same orientation as they are in the grid with respect to the player board. If you are unable to find a color that will fit, you will skip placing tiles this round. Once tiles are placed, they are not moved for the rest of the game.
When you are placing buildings:
- Roads (grey) want to connect to an edge of the board.
- Factories (black) want to be next to other factories and roads.
- Homes (red) want to be placed in clusters that are as small as possible — the smallest being a single tile — so long as they’re not next to a factory.
- Parks (green) want to be next to homes and factories.
- Shops (blue) score increasingly more the closer they are placed to the city center, but if they’re not placed on an edge, they need to be adjacent to a road connected to the board’s edge in order to score. Without road access, you’ll have no products to sell!
The other players will each choose any other color from the grid and follow the same procedure. After all players have done this, move the round marker forward, put all the cubes back in the shaker and pass the shaker to the next person clockwise.
The first 12 rounds are played in the way described above. In the final three rounds, all colors are available to all players. The round numbers on the tracking board are a different color to remind you of this change.
At the end of the 15th round, the game ends, and players now score their points. Each of the two sides of the player board scores a bit differently – refer to the player aid card for the particular side to score each of the five types of tiles. Then, you score the bonus tiles – if the tiles in the corresponding row or column of your board match the criteria on the particular tile, then you score the points. The corner tile always scores points if you have at least 2 of each tile type in your city.
The player with the most points wins. Ties broken in favor of the player who scored the most Bonus tiles.
My thoughts on the game
So I first got to see this game at GenCon 2022, and while I didn’t play it, I had a fun time watching it. I was mesmerized by the cube delivery box, and that widget remains one of the coolest things about the game. It is a really neat way to randomize the cubes to choose from each round; and the decisions made about which color/pattern to choose is essentially the main decision to be made in the game.
As you are not allowed to rotate the cubes; we have found it easier to have each person rotate their board so that all are pointed in the same direction on the table (which means they are rotated with respect to the player) – and then everyone can use the 3×3 grid as they are looking at it – regardless of where the cubes happen to be.
Each player gets an equal number of turns to be the lead player; and while I don’t recommend taking too much time worrying about what everyone else is doing (as man, you’re usually just worried about picking the best color for yourself) – I suppose that if you had two equal choices, you might then look around to see if either of those was more beneficial for an opponent. But, after the first 12 rounds, all the rest are a free-for-all; and this is a nice feature, as this allows everyone three turns to finish up whatever city building projects they were working on; or perhaps a way to finish off a score on a bonus tile.
For the most part, the strategy is simple – just make the best of your possible color choices when it is your time to choose. I have found that the bonus tiles are pretty hard for me to score, and I personally focus on getting the tiles in the right organization to score well on their own. Of course, many of my opponents seem to be disciplined enough to score a couple of the tiles; and both systems have proved to be successful at times.
While the game is neither a roll-and-write nor a flip-and-write; it feels the same as Noch Mal where the lead player chooses things and then leaves the remainders for the rest. As far as I know, it’s the first in the poop-cubes-out-and-write; and regardless of how you classify it, it is still a fun little puzzle/challenge to get the tiles in the right places.
Keep the player aid cards nearby for the first few games; it definitely helps to have a constant reminder of how each different color scores or is penalized for other things nearby. Though games have 15 rounds, we’re often done in about 30 minutes as the individual rounds do not take long at all.
The game is heading for a Kickstarter launch in a few days, so if you’re interested, you’ll be able to see the campaign and check it out for yourself! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alderac/shake-that-city-from-aeg
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers.
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y
- Not for me…