SHŌBU had been a game I’d been looking forward to playing, because I had seen it climb to the top of the BoardGameGeek “Hotness” list and remain there for a good week or two. What made it intriguing is that it was a minimalist, 2-player abstract – and those usually just don’t make it to the “Hotness” at all, let alone remain there, let alone at the top place.

Having played it now, I can see what all the rage is about. It’s like some kind of “split-brain” Abalone remix which works incredibly well. It starts easy enough, and then escalates into these incredibly tense pushing matches which are interconnected with each other in one of the most fascinating ways I’ve seen in an abstract for years (admittedly, I don’t get to play as many as I’d like).

The game isn’t long, but it’s approachable, easy to pick up, entertaining to play, and seems fairly deep – everything you’d want from an abstract of this kind. I’m happy abstracts are alive and well going into 2020 and highly enjoyed this one!

As an added bonus, the components are so simple that it should be trivial to make a print and play of this if you want to try it or otherwise can’t afford it.

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