13th February 2022
It's Sunday night and we're logged into Board Game Arena for an evening of gaming.
Shifting Stones is a light sort of puzzle-themed sliding tile game.
Caveat: We've only ever played this game digitally.
What's in a game?
There's not much to say about the components. The illustrations on the tiles are nicely detailed and distinctive. However, I found the colours somewhat muted in lower lighting and a little indistinguishable, particularly the orange/red combination. The same is true of the cards.
The game has no iconography other than the tile illustrations.
How's it play?
On to play
Shifting Stones uses a traditional turn order, the active player has their turn and when it finishes, play progress clockwise to the next.
During their turn, the active player perform any number of the score/swap/flips actions in any order so long as they have the cards to perform them. Alternatively, they may skip their turn.
Play continues until any player has scored (Dependant on player count.) 7-10 cards, after which the current round is completed.
Players add up the VPs of all the cards they've scored during the game.
Additionally, whoever played the most 1 value cards earns a bonus 3 VPs.
Points are tallied, highest score wins.
As you can see from the brief write-up, Shifting Stones is a fairly straightforward and accessible game, it could make a good introduction to new players or crossover game.
Despite the straightforward rules, there is actually a bit of depth to be found in Shifting Stones. The game makes use of a hand-as-currency mechanic to pay for actions and getting rid of cards that might prove useful is always a meaningful decision. Players will want to minimise this and find the most efficient way to swap/flip tiles to where they need them to be and hope to score at least 1 card per turn.
At the same time, hanging on to cards too long can earn nothing and trying to plan ahead is likely to be futile, it's too risky leaving things for another round as it players will invariably change the tile positionings, players will need to be decisive and exploit the opportunities that present themselves during their turn.
There's not much more else to say really, there's no noteworthy interaction between players and it's hard to gauge what others are doing, especially since whenever they refill their hand - which is every turn, they'll be presented with newer options.
Other than I found the game a little bit of a frustrating experience.
Watching other players inadvertently wrecking the positioning I was try to set up between turns wasn't what I'd call much fun. I also found having to remember what was on the flip side of the tiles something of a chore, having to refer to the reference card wasn't much better. If perhaps. there was more engaging core gameplay, maybe I'd would make the effort to remember what's on the other side of the tiles. But there wasn't, so I didn't.
Shifting Stones is straightforward and clearly skews towards the lighter end of the complexity scale, it would possibly make a good filler game. I'm not sure there's enough here to appeal to me though and coupled with the frustrating experience means that this is not one for me.
I play, I paint.