Shobu Review

Shobu - Smirk & Laughter - $29.95

Game title: Shobu

Game description: A beautifully crafted abstract strategy game. Your turn is in two parts, a passive (or set up) move and a more aggressive move, which must be the same direction and number of spaces as the first move. It is this second move that allows you to push stones across the board - or shove them off the board's edge. Remove all four of your opponent's stones from just one of the four boards to win.

Overall
4.3
  • Play (Mechanics)
  • Presentation (Art/Quality)
  • Plan (Rules)

Summary

It’s quiet in the forest. The fresh scent of cut wood fills your nostrils as the babbling brook beside you fills your ears with melodious sounds. You’ve gathered a handful of rocks from the water and set your knife to 4 blocks of wood. It’s peaceful. Serene. You push your first stone and are well on your way into a battle of wits with your opponent.

Pros

  • Beautifully Made
  • Easy to Learn
  • An Instant Classic

Cons

  • May not appeal to all gamers

Full Shobu Review

It’s quiet in the forest. The fresh scent of cut wood fills your nostrils as the babbling brook beside you fills your ears with melodious sounds. You’ve gathered a handful of rocks from the water and set your knife to 4 blocks of wood. It’s peaceful. Serene. You push your first stone and are well on your way into a battle of wits with your opponent.

Smirk & Laughter‘s Shobu evokes feelings of an ancient abstract game while just recently being released in 2019. It’s a game of wood, stone, and fiber. Each player has a dark and light wooden board in front of them separated by a small length of rope. On each board is 4 white river stones and 4 black one. The goal of the game? Remove all 4 of your opponents stones off of any board.

Thurot, D. Preparing for the Match. 30 Dec. 2019, https://boardgamegeek.com/image/5140567/shbu.

On a player’s turn they move a stone of their color on either board on their side of the rope up to 2 spaces in any direction. This stone must be able to freely move without bumping into any other stones. Then the player takes another move on the opposite color board on either side of the rope. This stone may push an opponent stone, the goal being to knock it off the board.

Shobu is a beautifully tactile and thoroughly enjoyable game that combines a simplicity of design with a staggeringly in-depth set of mechanics. It’s an instant classic that should be in the collection of any abstract strategy fan’s collection. The mirroring of movement provides many thought provoking moments and the management of 4 different board creates a tense game every time it’s played.

It’s hard not to fall in love with the game.

A copy of Shobu was provided free for review by Smirk & Laughter

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