Shifting Stones Review: A truly intriguing puzzle game

Shifting Stones Review: A truly intriguing puzzle game

Shifting Stones Review

Shifting Stones is a logical puzzle game conceived by J. Evan Raitt and illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya in which players must compete around a mysterious grid, made up of finely carved stones. The game, which combines sequence creation mechanics, is suitable for 1-5 players aged 8 and over and has been localized for the Italian market by Studio Supernova.

Shifting Stones: unboxing and setup game

Shifting Stones is a boxed game with cards, contained inside a small box (17 x 17 x 4 cm). By lifting the lid we will find, housed inside a thermoformed blister, the only two elements of the game: a deck of cards and the 9 Stone tiles that will make up the mystical mosaic.

"As soon as you arrive at ruins you found the magical moving stones in front of you. Will you be able to arrange them in the correct positions? ”

The deck of cards groups the 72 Scheme cards and the 5 reference cards. The former are the cards that indicate to the players which combinations to perform, while the latter summarize the actions of the game and show the front / back combinations of the Stone tiles.

The Stone tiles are the components that, as mentioned, they will represent the central element of the game: the grid made up of moving stones.

The different tiles will be characterized by a particular combination of color and image placed on both sides of the tile, which can be turned from time to time by the players to achieve the desired combination.

Having to reproduce carved stone blocks, Shifting Stones tiles feature embossed elements, aimed at replicating the feel of engraved stone. In this sense, we find that the creation of this particular game component is one of the most beautiful and distinctive aspects, able to immediately capture attention.

Setting up the game is extremely simple and takes very little time. First you need to randomly place the Stone tiles to form a 3 × 3 grid. Each player is dealt 4 Scheme cards, while the rest are placed next to the grid. This pile is the draw deck and from this new cards are drawn to integrate each player's hand.

Before starting, it is necessary to establish the orientation of the grid and decide who goes first. Regarding the orientation of the grid in the first few games we recommend that you all be on the same side, in order to read the grid correctly.

Let's start playing

In Shifting Stones the aim of the game is to be able to accumulate the highest score and to reach the goal it is necessary to replicate on the mobile grid one of the combinations present on the Scheme cards of one's hand. To complete the objective, the players must therefore observe the grid, move and turn the stone tiles to obtain these points. Each Scheme card expresses a score, which, depending on the complexity of the scheme, has a value between 1 and 5 points.

During each turn the participants have a series of actions that they can use: move the Stones, flip the Stones, get the points, finish the turn or skip the turn.

The players intervene directly on the grid by moving and flipping the Stones: every time a player succeeds in completing a Scheme, the corresponding card is placed aside to be counted at the end of the game. The first player who manages to score a certain number of Scheme cards (the value varies according to the number of participants) will end the game. At this point everyone's scores will be checked in search of the winner.

Thanks to this simple and immediate mechanic, the actions of the various players will follow one another very quickly one after the other and each Shifting Stones game will have a maximum duration of 20 minutes.

However, the ease of learning should not be confused by thinking that this is a flat and banal game: Shifting Stones is an easy game to play but which hides a great depth of play.

The solitaire mode

Those who love confronting solitaires will find in Shifting Stones bread for their teeth. The game offers a single player mode, which will not make you regret the possibility of playing alone.

In the solitaire variant, the game mechanics remain unchanged, but it is played with a deck of Scheme cards consisting of 16 cards, with different scoring schemes. In this mode you do not compete to accumulate more points, but to be able to solve all 16 combinations of the deck and in the event that it is not possible to solve one of the Schemes you will suffer a penalty; if 4 penalties are accumulated, the game will be lost.

This variant of the game allows you to approach this title in a more reflective way than the faster pace imposed by a game with more players, but not only, later at our tests we would like to state that solitaire can also be appreciated by playing it in cooperative mode.

For whom it is suitable

Shifting Stones is a game suitable for everyone and that can be played practically everywhere . The simplicity and immediacy of the rules make it particularly suitable also for children and casual players.

To score the points you will need a little strategy and also a certain amount of luck and timing: The random element will prevent complex and long-term strategies, resulting perhaps a little indigestible for those who want total control over the game. Despite this, we believe that taking advantage of a bit of luck and being able to complete a Scheme or break the eggs in the basket for your opponents, by moving that one fundamental tile, are an integral part of the fun of this game.

Bottom Line

Shifting Stones is a fun and entertaining board game. Speed ​​of execution, a very characteristic graphics and the ability to play this game anywhere and with anyone are the key points that have won us over. The real revelation of the game, however, is the solitaire mode: an exciting gaming experience equal to, or even better than, that for 2 or more players.

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