Venture into the haunted manor in search of treasure—but beware the snakes, spiders, and other creeps as you shake and slide your way to riches!
What Is Shaky Manor?
Shaky Manor Components
- 4 Shaky Manor boxes
- 48 objects:
- 4 Meeples
- 12 Treasure Chests
- 8 Ghosts
- 8 Eyes
- 8 Snakes
- 8 Spiders
- 48 Challenge Cards
Each manor box is an open tray with some interlocking walls, forming a 2 x 4 grid of rooms with doorways that connect them. Each room has a different color and pattern on the floor. There are fun little details on the walls of the manor, though you won’t be looking too carefully as you play, because you’ll be too busy focusing on getting everything to the right place.
The various objects are a lot of fun: the treasure chests are just wooden cubes, painted a shiny gold. The spiders are actually rubber, and then everything else is wooden. The snakes are large and zig-zaggy, long enough that they can block off doorways. The eyeballs just roll around everywhere.
The challenge cards are small square cards, showing various items on one side and a single room on the other. The item side reminds me a little of Spot It, with stylized illustrations of the objects (like what you see on the box cover) in random orientations and at different sizes. That can make it a little tricky to “read” the card quickly, but that may also be an intended part of the game.
How to Play Shaky Manor
The goal of the game is to be the first to score 5 points, by getting the right items into the right rooms.
There are three increasingly difficult ways to play.
To set up, give each player a shaky manor and a full set of objects (1 meeple, 3 treasure chests, and 2 each of everything else). Put the meeple, treasure chests, and 1 ghost into your manor, and the rest of the items nearby. Shuffle the cards and set them on the table, item side up.
Before each round, the player to your right should shake up your manor to mix things up.
Flip over the top card of the deck to reveal a room. Everyone simultaneously picks up their manor, tilting and shaking them. If you’re the first to get the meeple and all three treasure chests—and nothing else—into the indicated room, you take the card and get 1 point. Then, the player to your right gets to add another object into your manor, and another round begins.
Setup is similar, except everyone starts with all of their objects inside their manors.
To play, you flip over the top card next to the deck, so that it reveals a room color and the item side of the next card. Your goal now is to get those items pictured into the correct room.
Game 3 is the same as Game 2, except the goal is to get all of the items not pictured on the item card into the correct room.
The game ends when somebody collects 5 cards—that player wins!
Here’s a little video of two rounds from Game 2:
Why You Should Play Shaky Manor
Shaky Manor fits nicely in Blue Orange’s line of speed-dexterity games like Top That!, Dr. Eureka, Go Go Gelato!, and Dr. Microbe. Each game has different levels of puzzle-solving, observation, and dexterity, but they’re all races where you only score if you finish first.
Shaky Manor has less puzzle-solving except in Game 3, where you have to figure out which items are not shown on the card: not really that difficult, though the time pressure and stress makes it easy to slip up. For the most part, it’s about finding the things in your manor and getting them to the right room.
That’s pretty much the game! It reminds me of those little marble puzzles I played with as a kid, where you’re tilting a little plastic case around, trying to get tiny ball bearings to wind up in the barely-shallow-enough holes. That feeling is particularly strong when there are eyeballs present, because they just roll around from one end of the manor to the other, and are extremely hard to keep in place.
I do like the way that the different items move differently. The rubber spiders can have a little more friction and their legs occasionally get caught on doorways. The snakes are also slower because of the larger surface area, and the zigzag shape can get wedged in a doorway, too. The little treasure chests slide around really easily, but not as quickly as the eyeballs. Trying to figure out which objects to focus on first is part of the strategy, but much of the game comes down to skill (and a bit of luck, if you happen to have lots of the correct items near the target room).
The three game options also let you scale up the difficulty, which is nice. I like the catch-up mechanic in Game 1: each time you score a point, the game gets a little harder, because you’ll have more obstacles in your manor. It would also be quite easy to handicap the game for different players, just by adding more things to somebody’s manor.
Games 2 and 3 don’t have that same handicap option, because everyone needs to have all the objects in their manor. I do usually prefer the bigger challenge of Game 2, but it’s nice to have the catch-up mechanic for less experienced players. Another option, which I’ve used with my 5-year-old, is for me to play Game 2 or Game 3 while she plays Game 1. She can just pay attention to the room color and get her meeple and treasure chests there, while I have to do the (usually) harder challenge.
I’m a sucker for dexterity games and I liked Shaky Manor from the moment I picked up the box (which has a little window in the front so you can try it out before you even open it). Not everyone cares for this sort of game, and of course there’s not a lot of strategy involved. But it’s a pretty fun ten minutes of frantic shaking and tilting!
I’d recommend Shaky Manor for players who like speedy dexterity games, but not for those who want more strategy and choices. It’s definitely more skill-based, but fortunately there are many ways to handicap players to level out the playing field a bit. Look for it in stores or online now!
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.