I had wanted to try out a holiday-themed game before Christmas and Sack Stackers ended up being what fit the bill. And Sack Stsckers did a good job doing something fun with the formula of filling in a grid :)
The theme of the game is that you are one of Santa elves. The automatic sack stuffer is off and you need to sort out the presents. Okay, from there, it’s abstract all the way.
You have a six by six grid with numbered columns. You have six numbered boxes that each have five different patterns and one wild. Yeah, you know how it’s going to work. Roll two dice. Pick one for the column and one for the pattern.
So, here’s how Sack Stackers does its own thing:
You score points by making specific four-square shapes with each specific pattern. A line of four blocks with the horizontal pattern, for instance. Yes, you build up from the bottom. Yes, the five shapes are the Tetris shapes.
So Sack Stackers has you play Tetris to make Tetris shapes.
You also get some ways to mitigate luck. In addition to the aforementioned wild pattern, you also get ten -1/+1 uses. You can even use more than one at the same time. For every two you use, you need to add a lump of coal to the grid. Which can be helpful in and of itself. Not only are isolated lumps worth a couple points, coal can fill in spaces you need filled to form shapes. You also have to add a lump of you can’t add a pattern square.
I also have to mention the graphics of the patterns each one is only two lines so they are super easy to duplicate and draw. From a graphic design, that’s well done.
Okay. So what do I think of Sack Stackers?
On the one hand, I have seen a lot of fill-in-the-grid Roll and Writes. I tried three this month alone and this isn’t even the best one. (The Blob That Ate the City has one heck of a hook) It isn’t a bad game at all but it has a lot of competition.
Sack Stackers gives you a lot of wiggle room. Between six wild patterns and ten dice adjustments, you have a lot of control. It might even be too forgiving. (Which is a whole lot better than dice games where you have no control)
That said, the shape building is a fun mechanic and I don’t remember seeing it before. The game is easy to learn but the decisions are still there. Frankly, Sack Stackers is fun enough that I immediately played it again.
Sack Stackers is a game that can definitely work for casual gamers but I think it will also click for non-gamers and more dedicated gamers. The Christmas theme doesn’t hurt if you’re playing it during the holidays.
Part of me wants to knock Sack Stacking for being yet another Fill-in-the-Grid Roll and Write since I’ve seen so many. But the fact is that I keep on having fun with Sack Stacking and plan on sending it to friends.