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ShanJari is an intricate challenge to build and create winning sequences of colors and combinations. Strategy builds as players place their colored beads. Find a winning combination before your opponent does.
So I ordered this back in December, and Funagain just replenished their stock. SO, here it is 5 months later and I could not wait to play this game. Fed Ex made a 4th and final attempt to deliver it on Saturday, thank GOD! I was really hating the idea of having to drive half an hour away to pick it up at their holding facility. Anyway I opened it up and played it later that night with Kevin. It was a very good game as it turns out, I won almost every game we played. We knocked out about 10 or fifteen games in an hour's time, and I think the final score was Jay 9 Kevin 6.
Set up is a breeze, the board, or rather the roll up vinyl mat shows some minor bends and slight creases from shipping, but otherwise lays relatively flat. I think the best plan is to leave the mat out on the table near a window with the sun shinning in to "melt" it back to full flatness. The tube it comes in is more of a box than a tube. I was hoping there would be a round tube inside to carry the game, but there isn't. In my opinion a tube would do better to keep the mat flat and free of creases and folds. But other than that the packaging is quite attractive. For the purposes of portability I will carry the game, rules, sequence cards and gemstones in my Pente tube when I go to friend's houses to play. The actual ShanJari box really isn't very portable, the lid is loose and prone to coming off. The interior of the box is huge, too much so for the board to stay tight enough to stay uncreased. Because of this the board will not stay rolled, and gravity can cause it to become more creased overtime. If they were to redesign the box into a tube, this would eliminate that.
Game play is fast, and learning the rules takes a game maybe 2 games at best to learn, after that it's just a matter of practice, and remembering which sequence you need to complete to win. The sequence cards have options for 3, 4, 5 and 6 color winning sequences. Kevin and I used dice to choose a sequence for each game. This seems to be the best, most random way to decide on the game winning sequence.
When 2 players are playing each chooses 2 of the four colored gemstones. With three each picks a color, and the fourth color is shared by all 3. The reason for this is that in most of the winning combinations require a total of 4 colors in order to win. Other combinations can be all of the same color. For the most part you'll be using most of the colored stones to make a winning combination. Winning combinations are only found in a straight line, but for advanced players the option to use zig-zags, "S" curves or squares is also available. As for challenging, the game can vary. We've never played any of the "3" color sequences, seems to easy, but for a young player, or to indoctrinate a new player they should prove simple enough to grasp, and to win. The "4" and "5" color sequences seem fairly average and any regular gamer will enjoy these challenging combinations. Now the 6 color sequences are the most challenging and has the largest number of sequences. It is also the most difficult group to win with, but as you advance, you'll need these harder, more challenging "6" color combinations.
To win you have to try and get colored gemstones to match the sequence chosen, I think the description of the game by the manufacturer says it better than I can. But I'll tell you this, if you forget the sequence or get confused and try to use a different sequence other than the one chosen you'll have a harder time trying to win. If you've played, Go, Pente, Megiddo or even Mancala you will grasp the concept of this game very quickly, and you'll enjoy adding it to your game closet. If you have the roll up versions of Go or Pente, you can save space by putting ShanJari in the Pente or Go tube when you go out gaming. This game alone however should travel well, and although you won't be able to play it on the Snack Tray on the airplane, you will however be able to set it up just about anywhere else. It would also be a good camping game to bring out on a short, or long hike, or an extended camping trip. Overall 4 stars for a good and challenging game.
*Edited May 13th 2007*