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working title: Shape Up
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A great two-player strategy game! Shape Up takes seconds to learn and minutes to play. Get four in a row -- one player goes for shapes, the other for colors. Upset your opponent's plan, while shaping your strategy to win.
Out of the Box Publishing
Time: 15 - 20 minutes
Ages: 8 and up
Weight: 813 grams
Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English. This is a domestic item.
- 54 game tiles
- 1 shape marker
- 1 color marker
- game board with storage
- easy play rules
Average Rating: 3.5 in 1 review
As a child, I played Connect Four probably dozens of times; and while it got a little predictable after a while, I enjoyed dropping the checkers down the chutes. As soon as I played MixUp (Out of the Box Publishing, 2006 - Maureen Hiron), I was immediately reminded of the older game. Really, MixUp is little more than Connect Four with a twist. But the twist pretty much changes the game to make it quite a bit different - a rather challenging game between two players. Tense and interesting, it's a game that takes only a brief time to play and has some nice quality components.
The game comes with fifty-four pieces - each with two characteristics: color (green, red, or blue) and shape (moon, raindrop, and lightning bolt). A seven by seven "grid", which is basically seven columns into which the pieces can slide into, is set up, with players deciding whether or not they want to be "colors" or "shapes". The "color" player goes first and picks any tile from the table, dropping it down one of the columns.
Play alternates between players, with each player picking any piece they want (although the "shape" player must pick a different-shaped piece on their first turn), and dropping it down one of the columns. The "color" player is attempting to either get four of the same color piece in a row - diagonally or orthogonally, or a two by two square of all the same color pieces. The "shape" person is doing the same thing, except they go by shapes, not colors. The first person to accomplish this goal is the winner!
Some quick comments on a quick game…
1.) Rules: Obviously these are very short rules; and considering that the rulebook is one of the shortest I've seen from OOTB Publishing (just barely four small pages), there still isn't that much there. The game is very intuitive, and young teenagers I taught it to quickly picked it up. It's a shame that the game is limited to only two players, as I would enjoy a three-player option; but since the game is quick, you can play multiple games in a group rapidly.
2.) Components: The quality is really amazing in this small game, with both the board and the tiles made of a hard but chunky plastic - with the look of high quality (the shapes are pressed into the pieces, rather than simply painted on). The back of the board opens up to hold all the pieces, which means that the small square box is unnecessary if you are looking to easily transport the game. I suppose that with only six tiles of each type, that it would seem that you might run out of some, but I never have; and I've seen/observed the game being played over ten times.
3.) Time: My last comment was easy to make, since MixUp plays in such a short time. Yes, you can sit there for lengthy periods of time, slowly debating over which tile to choose, and which column to drop it in; but I've played against folks of varying temperaments and haven't run into anyone who has played a game longer than 15 minutes. Most games are finished before the board is half filled up.
4.) Sneakiness: Because one player is colors, and the other shapes, the game has an inherent stealth-like nature about it. It's a hard pill to swallow when you lose because of a piece that YOU placed, but it's entirely possible since every piece means something to both players. When I am the color player, I play the color of the tile offensively, and the shape defensively. This might mean that I can do both in one move - and it's a joy when that happens, but more often it means that I have to be careful about setting the opponent up.
5.) Fun Factor: I've read that Connect Four has been "solved", and I believe it, because there is a finite number of moves and options in that game. And I believe that MixUp also probably has a similar number of moves. But MixUp is fun because players are using the same pieces in a different ways, and because it seems as if one has more options. The adding of the "square" (two by two box) method of winning helps the game to never degenerate to a stalemate (I haven't seen one yet) and allows players to quickly force the opponent into a win.
If you liked Connect Four, then this is an easy choice - it's more of the same, only better. If you didn't like Connect Four because of its simplicity, then I would invite you to at least consider MixUp - it adds an astonishingly large amount of tactics with only the changing of a few rules. It has a quality feel in the materials used, a unique feel in the mechanics, and a simple feel in the time and rules. A fun "filler" two-player game, I'm glad to own it. And I'll never play Connect Four again.
"Real men play board games"