Title: Shifting Stones
Designed By: TJ. Evan Raitt
Art by: Kwanchai Moriya
Published By: Gamewright
Player Count: 1-5
Time to Play: 20 Minutes
Shifting Stones is an abstract strategy game where players work to move colorful stones around a board in attempt to create patterns that will score them points. Score the most points at the end of the game and win!
How to Play:
To begin, give each player a reference card. Make sure one player has the dark grey reference card. According to the rules, this should go to whoever most recently read a history book, they will be the starting player. Shuffle the tiles and randomly lay them out in a 3x3 grid.
Next, shuffle the deck of cards and deal each player four cards (players can look at their own hand but should not show it to others). Put the rest of the deck off to the side, but within reach of all players.
Beginning with the starting player, players will take their turns one at a time. On a players turn they can do one of two things, shift, flip, and/or score cards, or pass. If a player chooses to pass they do not take any other actions, but can increase their hand by drawing two additional cards. Players cannot do this twice in a row.
If a player chooses to instead take their turn, they can spend cards from their hand to flip or shift stones, and/or score pattern cards. You score pattern cards by having tiles of the correct symbol in the correct orientation placement. Place any scored pattern cards into a pile by that player. Once a player cannot or chooses not to play any more cards, they draw back up to four cards.
The game end is triggered when any player scores a specific amount of pattern cards (determined by player count). All player's get an equal number of turns, so finish the round if needed.
Points are scored based on the number on each card a player scored. Additionally, whoever scored the most 1 point cards, get a three point bonus. The player with the highest score wins.
What's purr-ty cool:
Shifting Stones is a delightful, little puzzle game. The rules are brief and clear which makes learning and teaching the game a breeze.
The tiles themselves are a nice component. They are really thick and are embossed (I think embossed is the right word here, they have a texture to them and it's lovely!). We liked the dual-sided nature of the tiles and using the flip mechanic instead of just the shifting mechanic. Given that some tiles are more rare than others, there is a real puzzle in working to try and get your tiles into a prime scoring location space. It is also interesting that a player's use one board, so you cannot always perfectly line up tiles for a future turn.
We like that cards are dual use, and can either be spent to take actions or used to score. You can also spend cards to take unneeded actions to clear your hand, which is a great way to cycle through cards if you are looking for easier or harder cards to score.
Shifting Stones makes a wonderful family game, it is simple enough for new gamers to understand and enjoy, while providing enough strategy mixed in for more experienced gamers to still have fun. We would recommend Shifting Stones for people who enjoy Azul or Santorini.
Oh, one last thing! This is a gateway game with a solo mode, so awesome for new gamers who do not have anyone else to play with!
The cat's meow:
"The tiles look like they would be awesome to chew on, but mom keeps stopping me from finding out." - Pudgy Cat
Disclosure: Pudgy Cat Games was provided a copy of this game in exchange for a review, however, this review reflects the honest thoughts of the author.