Theme and What is it?
Shuffle Grand Prix is Mario Cart: The Board Game. The game is an endurance race with all the unique characters using their own special brands of mischief to get ahead. Traps? Check. Nerfing others? Check. Upgrading your car? Check. Direct attacks? Check. Fast reaction times to shield against direct attacks and traps? Yup! Shuffle Grand Prix has it all.
Setup involves picking 2 unique drivers to work as a team and shuffling their special ability decks together. One will start as the active driver and the other as a co-pilot. Right up until the active driver spins out and the other takes the wheel to get back into the race.
As you would expect in a game published by Bicycle, everything is card driven (pun intended)! Ultimately whoever has the longest total distance traveled when the distance deck is empty will win the race.
The 8 colors of cards set out for each character look really appealing on the table. The trophy cups just look like something you want to earn (by spinning out the other drivers)! If the general idea of Mario Cart the board game wasn’t enough to get your attention, the unboxing of the components should be.
Game Build Quality
As you would expect from Bicycle, the card quality is top notch. It feels like shuffling a new poker deck when you first take the cards out. Aside from the cards, the only components are the punchboard trophies which have a very glossy finish texture and look very shiny.
I like the size of the box too. It is large enough to show there is enough of a game inside to not be a filler game but isn’t so large that it feels like it might be intimidating to learn. They got that just right.
Ruwen Liu has done a great job making the art both whimsically funny and completely functional. Everything has a cartoon quality to it. Many of the unique cards have art that supplement the card ability text and humorous flavor text perfectly. Quite a few have amusing cultural references. All the cards for Noodle, the Cat are particularly amusing. The Upside-Down Cardboard Box is a particular favorite.
There are two main things that make this game fun: the unique combinations of abilities and the take that elements. Ganging up on the leader by setting up evil traps and nerfs can be very satisfying. There are many cards and character abilities that make for amazing combinations together.
There is nothing quite as great as playing an empowered “Rockets! Rockets! Rockets!” to deal 4 tire damage to ALL players and use your own “Dodge” card to evade all damage just for yourself. All other players spin out while you maniacally laugh to victory.
Age Range & Weight
13+ seems too high. The game is very simple. Kids far younger than 13 could understand the rules of what each card says to do. The only reason to give it such a high number is as a warning for parents that the take that elements means the game could take a few downhill turns with hurt feelings. A younger child might feel ganged up on or like nothing ever works out for them and pout a bit, but almost all games have some element of that.
When you place the distances cards overlapping on the black lines they show how far each player has made it so that whoever has the longest line wins. In the above example, both players had identical number of distance cards but the one on top ended at the 25 black line while the last one cheetah’d it home in that final push.
I very much enjoyed playing this game and think it should be particularly easy to get on the table with fans of Mario Cart as it presses all of the same big red buttons.