19th December 2021
We continued our Sunday gaming on Board Game Arena with Can't Stop.
Can't stop, addicted to the shindig.
Chop Top, he says I'm gonna win big.
No... wait..., this isn't a song. It's a sharp little push your luck game.
Caveat: We've only ever played this game digitally.
What's in a game?
That's it for components, there's not too much that can be said about such a minimalistic, almost abstract game.
The only art featured is the mountainous picture on the board which is a nice enough illustration which keeps the board from looking plain. Although it's obviously been used as a theme to fit the mechanic.
There's no iconography to the game unless you count the numbers on the dice!
How's it play?
On to play
The objective in Can't Stop is to get 3 of your 11 tokens to the top of the board (Or mountain.) first.
Each player takes turns rolling the dice and using them to move their tokens up the lines, they can continue doing this until they choose to stop, reach the top or go bust.
When a player's 3rd personal token reaches the top of a line and they stop, then they immediately win.
First off; if you don't like push-your-luck games or games that introduce significant amounts of randomness or chance, then you can probably stop read right here! Chances are that you'll hate Can't Stop. Only Joking, please keep reading! Maybe I can convince you that it's worth trying!
I think that Can't Stop is a good 'crossover' game that will appeal to casual-gamers, the luck element is a good balancing mechanism that levels the playing field somewhat and will probably prevent dedicated players from always winning, allowing players of differing levels of experience to play together. Simple rules make the game accessible to anyone.
For such simple rules, there's a few things I want to say about Can't Stop's elegant gameplay that has been stripped down to pure, distilled, unadulterated push-your-luck mechanics. There's no gimmicks here or clever twists, just you and the dice.
Speaking of dice; using 4 of them was a piece of inspiration. If the game was played with only 2 dice, it'd be too easy to predict outcomes. Any dice-slinger worth their salt would know that getting 2 or 12 is a 1-in-36 chance, or getting a 7 is 1-in-6.
Adding an extra 2 dice into the mix that need to be paired off changes everything but also sort of keeps it the same!
While it would take a little effort to try and figure out the probabilities with 4 dice, it doesn't change the fact that 7s will still be more common than 2s or 12s. The probability curve is now just skewed to some degree, how much, I don't know, l haven't bothered to make that effort to figure it out.
This is reflected in the game's design. You only need 3 2s or 12s to to reach the top, while you require 13 7s to do the same.
While luck undoubtedly plays a big part in Can't Stop, there's also some strategy involved. Like many chance based games, it's important to employ good judgement on when to push-your-luck and when not to.
It also pays to think about how dice are paired off. Generally, when you get movement markers in the 6-8 range, it's the best time to push it, there're no guarantees though...
And the longer a player can go without putting all 3 movement markers on the board, by managing the dice pairing, the better.
If I have a criticism, it's that the game can slow down towards the end as columns become locked off. We've played this 3-player frequently and at times, when players have captured 2 lines each it means 6 out of 11 lines are no longer in play so everybody ends up going bust a lot more often.
As a filler, I think Can't Stop is pretty good fun, it provides some entertainment which allows me to turn my brain off and chill out for a little while (Provided bad rolls don't infuriate me!).
I don't take it too seriously and neither should you.
I play, I paint.