When me and my friends first sat down to play Shasn, all we knew were two things:
1. It looked like a pretty complex board game
2. It’s heavily influenced by today’s political scenario
What we didn’t realize at the time was how well Shasn tied politics into the moment to moment decision making in the game and pushed players to express political ideas in way that elevated Shasn from being just a board game.
As with any board game, the first thing is learning it. Shasn comes with a rule book that lays it out for you, but you will be reading and re-reading a bit to get the hang of it. The best way to learn fastest is to just play a round, though it might get frustrating to other players, most of whom are just looking to make progress. I spent an afternoon alone figuring some of it out, and then brought in friends to play a few rounds. We took the first weekend learning the ropes, but it wasn’t until the second weekend with the game that we actually “got good” at it. It may vary from group to group – and we obviously had not been playing a lot of board games recently, given the pandemic – but it’s also not that hard to learn. But more importantly – Shasn is fun!
So, in Shasn players are fighting for electoral roles. You’ll need to appease people to win votes, and to do that you need to pick an Ideology. If you’ve ever participated in any form of political discourse, be it online or among family and friends, you’ll know that Ideology is a real kicker. And Shasn doesn’t shy away from it. Be prepared to have conversations about the Citizenship Amendment Act, Network Blackouts, Cow Protection, etc.
Since this is the Indian Edition of the game, it takes quite a few jabs at the Indian Government. It could be easy for many to get triggered by it, and I had a feeling that some of jabs the game takes is intentional – both towards the government and a large sect of people. In all honestly, I am all for it. Exploring political ideas in a board game with a scoring system is a great way to see how even bad ideas can propagate and win votes. It’s obviously not scientific, but you get the idea.
Will you side with the people, a tribal community perhaps, or will you side with the corporations? Will you go the cold and calculated route, or the humanitarian route? Or is it finally time to recognize the heroes and declare Gau Rakshak Day as a National Holiday? The scenarios range from weighty to comical, and while the underlying theme is consistent, the tonal shifts are very welcome. It’s genuinely engaging to be able to see the state of affairs in the country (maybe even across the world) laid out on a board.
I enjoyed Shasn, and I am hoping to introduce this game to more of my friends across the political spectrum. Is it for everyone? Probably not, but my friends sure are going to see more of Shasn.
Buy Shasn – https://www.playshasn.com/
Review provided by – https://www.techgoggles.net/