Andy | Hello and welcome to a special preview of the Kickstarter project Shenanigans: The Musical! We don’t often do previews for Kickstarter projects but when The People’s Orchestra contacted us letting us know that this game was for their charity we jumped at the chance to trial the prototype.
Richard | That we did, and we should mention that the Kickstarter is now live and you can get a copy of the game by backing the project for £10 and all profits will go towards the charity.
Andy | While it’s great to support a charity, we still have our work cut out and a game to preview, so Rich take it away with a rules explanation!
Richard | The game is played using a deck containing the number of cards as there are players. The deck will always contain the Manager and the Artiste and then made up of supporting characters. The aim of the game is for the Manager to call out the Artiste and players win and lose depending on the character they are. The game spans across four phases. The first of these is the power phase where each player takes turns performing the action on their current character card. Once play returns to the first player you enter the Muddle phase, where players take turns to blindly swap (or not swap) the cards of two players, one of which must be themselves. After everyone has tried their hand at muddling, everyone can look at their card to see who they now are. After this there is a second power phase, after which is the endgame.
During the endgame everyone places their character card face down in front of them. The player with the Manager card reveals it, then guesses who they think the Artiste is, if they are correct they win, if not then the artiste wins. The other players have a win condition on their character cards, and will win if this is fulfilled. During the endgame discussion is open, and players can say what they like in order to influence the Manager and so help achieve their own victory.
Andy | And that’s the game! It plays quickly with rounds lasting between five and ten minutes so while strategy is on the lighter side the game doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. Now unfortunately we’re very particular when it comes to the games we play and overall probably wouldn’t return to Shenanigans due the points Richard will make below.
However, it’s important to remember that this target audience probably isn’t board game reviewers. Objectively this isn’t a fantastic game but that can’t, shouldn’t and most definitely won’t stop you having some fun. This is a game you can enjoy as a family, playing with children or a group of non-gamers who want something silly to play either on a boozy summer’s day.
Richard | Yeah I think it’s fair to say it wasn’t for us but we’ve definitely experienced worst games and have no ill feelings toward Shenanigans. We do however, have some reservations about some of the finer points.
While a subjective thing, the cartoony art doesn’t endear the game to us and it somewhat clashes with the style on the back of the cards. There’s specific styles of cartoon that can still look appealing without being childish and this just doesn’t quite work out.
More objectively looking however the similarity of the characters makes the game a little less varied. We can understand why, having to hide as the Artiste can be challenging but in a game with two rounds of power usage, having a bit more to it would greatly increase the fun. You can include some of the sillier characters to mix things up but it doesn’t add to the strategy, just to the silliness which for us, doesn’t add to the fun.
Ultimately, it’s an OK game but if I were to play something along these lines I’d go for Mascarade every time. It revels in it’s chaos, it looks lovely and more importantly it’s character guide lets you be aware of everything that’s possible. This unfortunately wouldn’t quite work with Shenanigans due to the hunt at the end of the game for the Artiste.
This all boils down to the fact that Mascarade is designed by veteran designer Bruno Faidutti whereas Shenanigans is Gregory Carslaw’s fifth game.
Andy | So we do have some qualms about the game but that’s because we’re used to looking at games analytically. It’s absolutely fantastic the People’s Orchestra has decided to sell a board game to raise money to support their charity. More should be done to make board games a power for good.
You and some mates could sit round and have a good blast of fun and silliness with this game and have no regrets. However, if they’ve already waded in to board game waters, this might come out just a little too shallow.
If you’re interested however, the Kickstarter is now live, there’s only a small target to raise and it’s all for a fantastic cause.