Stack Market is a game that we picked up a couple of months ago and has been tempting me ever since. It looked unique, combining mechanics that I have never seen together before, and I was itching to sink my teeth into it. Now having finally given it a shot, I am not disappointed.
The game consists of stacking wooden dice on top of each other to create a company headquarters. Rewards are given for stacking five dice on top of the stack in a single turn, as well as bonuses for having the tallest building at the end of the round. However, tall buildings only do you good if you are invested in them at just the right moment, just like the stock market.
Also like the real markets, there were benefits in being the ‘little guy’ too. At the end of each round a hostile take over could ensue, causing the investors of the highest tower to have to precariously perch the shortest tower on top of it. Not always, but often, this failed. This helped to keep the game more monetarily balanced.
The game brought out a lot of giggling and smack talk in my group, no real surprise there, (on the right night we would probably be issuing smack talk over a game of Go Fish) but this game truly rewarded our bad behavior, causing shaky hands time and time again and inducing tower toppling mistakes. This kind of interaction seemed to be the real gem of the game.
It’s not all rainbows and pixie dust though, our group complained about two major issues: accidental tower topples, and game time length.
The rules of the game allow for unforeseen things knocking over towers. They had enough foresight to not penalize investors for those kinds of things (otherwise the game could have gotten a lot nastier!), simply rebuild the tower and move on. But this became a major pain in the rear when towers of 17+ dice would crumble. We spent a significant amount of time rebuilding accidents, and then there was some minor quibbling about how those towers were rebuilt (“It wasn’t that stable before!”, “Those were more lopsided!”, “You knocked it down on ‘accident’ just so you could rebuild it better!”). I’m not sure how I would have resolved this in the rules, but this idea needed to be better evaluated. Perhaps a tax on the one who knocks it down, if a particular player was to blame.
The game length was the other major issue. The box says that it plays for 30-45 minutes. However our game continued onward for roughly an hour and a half. It was a fun game, but by the end we were all ready for it to be done. Going for twice the max time length stated on the box is a problem.
In the end we had a pretty good time. It was a fun game that I look forward to showing to other people. It is certainly unique, combining the more fun elements of Jenga with the decision making and strategy that I love in resource management games. The games’ downsides were pretty minor and possibly capable of some house rules for easy correcting.
Rankings (out of five stars):
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