Full disclosure: A preview copy of Blockers: The Stacking Game was provided by Crab Studios. Some art, gameplay, or other aspects of the game may change between this preview and the fulfillment of the Kickstarter, should it fund, as this is a preview of a currently unreleased game.
Back with another Kickstarter! This time it’s Blockers, a real-time stacking game from Crab Studios. You know I’m all about dexterity, particularly in the stacking space, and I love a real-time game as much as the next guy, so let’s dig a bit into this one and see what’s going on.
In Blockers: The Stacking Game, well, you do just that. Notably, though, you’ll be on a timer, as you and your friends attempt to build whimsical structures as fast as you can to earn points. Will you be able to outbuild your opponents? Or will everything you built come crashing down?
Setup is pretty simple. Set out the blocks:
Shuffle the cards:
And set a minute on the timer:
You’re ready to go!
The game is actually pretty straightforward, as well. Once you’re ready, start the timer. You have 60 seconds to build as many of the towers pictured on your card as possible. Once you’ve constructed one, pause for a beat so that other players can appreciate it, and then knock it down and keep going. Once the time’s up, check the cards you’ve completed, tally your score, and then continue on to the next player.
If, during your turn, you’d like to skip a card, you may flip it over to take a negative point instead and move on without completing it.
Play continues until every player has gotten a turn. The player with the most points wins!
If you’d like some alternate game modes, they’re working on several:
- A cooperative mode where one player describes the card to the other, who then builds it!
- A cooperative mode where players try to both build the same tower! There aren’t enough pieces for all the towers, so you may also want to attempt having both players work cooperatively on the same tower!
- A HORSE-style mode where you take turns taking a minute to build as many towers as you can, and then your opponent gets a minute to try to build everything you built and one more.
Lots to do!
Player Count Differences
There isn’t really one; it scales infinitely provided you have enough cards. Everyone gets the same amount of time. Given the downtime, naturally, I probably wouldn’t be down to play this with more than 4 or 6 people; there’s just too much waiting for other players before you get a turn.
- I guess … build quickly? There’s not much of a strategy for games like these; you’re playing against yourself. You can’t affect your opponents beyond trying to psych them out (which seems rude, so don’t do it?). If you use both of your hands and focus on double-timing what you want to build, you might be able to push a tower out even more quickly, which is nice.
- One really useful thing is using blocks to brace other blocks. It’s sometimes the only way you can get certain structures to stay up. You’ll see that required by certain cards, but you can use that to try and accelerate your building on other towers, too.
- Unless you can power through them, it’s almost worth skipping most of the 4-value cards. It’s sort of a points-per-second calculation; if you take 10 seconds to get 3 points and 15 seconds to get 4 points, it’s faster to take more 3s, generally speaking. You may want to factor in how those -1s affect you (and stop passing if you’re seeing too many of them), but it’s a decent starting heuristic during your minute.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- I mean, I love dexterity games. It’s a quick one, too, so it’s got everything I like already.
- Stacking games and real-time games are also quite fun. I mean, it’s no Catch the Moon, but I do enjoy both of those mechanics in other games and I’m pleased to see this one, here.
- The colorful blocks are nice. Not particularly friendly to people with color-vision deficiencies, but they’re cute.
- It came with its own timer! I appreciated it when Desktop HEBOCON Battle Kit did, so it’s only fair that I appreciate it when they do it, too.
- Pretty easy to learn. Just stack the blocks; that’s it. It’s already subtitled The Stacking Game, for your convenience.
- Plays fast. It’s only a minute per player, which is also nice.
- One minute feels a bit short. I worry that it’s capping the variance of scores? Not sure; need to investigate a bit more.
- It feels a little basic. I think my main issue with it is that you get the blocks, get the cards, and then might catch yourself saying, “oh, is that it?”. I’d love to see this get some more complex aspects to it. I liked the mode where a player describes the tower and you have to build it; I think that makes a Team Attack version of this much more fun. I’d love to see round-based modifiers that make it harder. Maybe you can all only use one hand, or maybe you have to play standing up, or maybe you have to play with your non-dominant hand. If not, it’s just sort of a regular game about stacking blocks; it’s kind of Speed Jenga. That’s not necessarily bad; I’d just like to see more from it.
- The lack of theme makes it hard for the game to get much traction with my groups. It’s very abstract, which is fine, but even a Construction Site theme or a Irresponsible Skyscraper Architect theme might have caused it to land a bit more smoothly.
Overall: 6.25 / 10
Overall, Blockers: The Stacking Game is pretty fun. The major thing for me is that I think it feels almost a bit dated relative to stacking games that are currently available. When I think stacking games, I tend to think games like Men at Work or Catch the Moon or Rhino Hero: Super Battle, which have taken stacking and presented it via a fun theme or unique challenges. This opts more for Challenge Jenga, effectively; take the blocks and stack them up so that they follow the guide set out in front of you. The speed is the major differentiator, but I think it’s only a challenge in that regard; beyond that, the fun is trying to outpace your friends, primarily. The nice thing about it is that it’s more of a game system, meaning that like The Lady and the Tiger or the Wibbell++ systems, you can expect more rules to appear over time as players come up with new stuff, rather than being constrained to only one game. That’s definitely a draw, and if you’re looking for something simpler than a lot of the more complicated stacking games, this is definitely a step in that direction. It’s a good game to try and convince people to bridge the gap between games like Jenga and games like Men at Work or Catch the Moon, since it’s dead simple and probably, like Jenga, would make a solid drinking game. To that end, if you’re looking for a stacking game that’s ridiculously simple to learn and very extendable, Blockers: The Stacking Game might be for you!