Get on Board: Shadows Amsterdam

With the colourful visuals of Dixit and a similar concept to Codenames, this tabletop game cherry-picks the best bits of others

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With board game makers having seemingly limitless creativity, most strive to have their own unique gameplay and style. However, when you do find a game you thoroughly enjoy, you also want more like it. And it just so happens, if you like bestseller Codenames, then happily Shadows: Amsterdam will provide a variation on the theme.

Shadows: Amsterdam comes from the publishers of Dixit, boasting the same colourful and wild visuals that help it stand out on the shelf. Two teams take the guise of a detective agency racing to be the first to solve a crime. Teams move around a grid without getting caught by the police with the silent help of one person from each team who acts as an intelligence officer.

Each space on the grid has an individual cartoon scenario involving anthropomorphic animals in the city of Amsterdam. Intelligence officers have a selection of other scenario cards laid out in front of everyone as well as a map showing only them the locations they must help their team reach. Without talking, the intelligence officers select a card that they feel most relates to one on the grid (getting that Codename vibe yet?), allowing the team to move their detective figure to what they feel is the correct space. Working their way around the board, the team that avoids the police and picks up three pieces of evidence first (according to the intelligence officers secret grid) naturally wins. Bear in mind though that the other team can grab any of the same scenario cards for their own use, and are also trying to achieve the exact same goal.

The game is a good one for those who aren’t strategically minded, as imagination comes as a key to winning and players must work on one thing at a time, rather than devising a game plan. The game, however, does feel like it was a concept first with the story tacked on – there’s no apparent backstory or reason you’re in Amsterdam, where animals are detectives.

Shadows: Amsterdam takes an already existing tried and tested concept and puts its own spin on it without deviating from the core engine of the game. Despite its curious concept, it is visually stunning and has big replay value.

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