Shifting Stones Review
Shifting Stones is another strong example of the quick yet fun board games that GameWright is publishing and pushing to a wider audience. GameWright’s titles scratch that ‘premium’ board game itch while remaining easy to play and relatively inexpensive to purchase. When you want to play a strategically deep, but easy to learn board game, Shifting Stones is almost all you’ll need.
How to Play
Players will lay out a 3×3 grid of coloured titles on the table, determine which side will be the too, and shuffles the pattern cards and sets them down atop the 3×3 grid. Each player draws a hand of 4 cards and play is ready to begin.
Each card depicts a pattern that needs to be matched. Once the matching pattern is on the table within the 3×3 grid, it can be scored, with the card being placed in front of the player. Each card has a point value – the easiest patterns to complete are worth 1 point, and the most difficult worth more on a sliding scale. The most points at the end of the game is the winner.
If players are not satisfied with the 3×3 grid they are looking at, they can discard one of their 4 pattern cards to either flip a tile over, or to swap it with an adjacent tile (along edges). Players can take as many actions as they have cards for. Upon the end of their turn, players draw back up to 4 cards.
The simplicity of Shifting Stones makes it an easy game to get to the table, and one that can be taught within a few minutes. But the strategic depth will have you playing for hours. It’s hard to think more than one turn ahead, so a lot of the game rests on the cards you draw. That being said, with 4 cards in your hand every turn, it’s not overly difficult to find at least one match you can make on any giving turn.
There is that thrill and excitement when you can move a few tiles to create more than one match on a turn, and I quickly began to learn that is what I was playing for. The game also allows you to ‘pass’ your turn by drawing two additional pattern cards and not performing any other actions, giving you 6 cards to work with on your next turn. Fully realizing when this is a good move, and when it is not, is the most strategic decision you will make.
Although simple, Shifting Stones provides hours of quick, easy to understand entertainment that is great to share with friends and family. While so many other games take way to long to teach and show off – while also giving the longtime players a strong advantage – Shifting Stones is so simple thay anyone who plays – new or old – has a chance to win every game. And that’s ultimately what I look for most when playing board games!