Monday, March 20, 2023

Shifting Stones is very niche but it does its niche well

Shifting Stones is a puzzle game where, if you’re playing it right, the puzzle will be constantly evolving. Of course, if you make poor moves, you create a snarled mess :)

The board is actually nine double-sided tiles in a three-by-three grid. You have cards that show specific patterns of tiles. You can either use cards to score points by matching patterns or discard them to shift tiles around. You can either flip tiles or swap two adjacent tiles.

In many ways, Shifting Stones takes a sliding tiles puzzle and expands on the concept. In particular, you get a third dimension by having the tiles be double-sided.

I feel comfortably saying that, from a mechanical angle, Shifting Stones is a good game. While there is nothing innovative about it, it takes familiar ideas and ties them together into a very playable package.
The real question is: do you want to play it? You have to enjoy abstract games. You have to enjoy puzzles. You have to enjoy methodically planning things out. And if you don’t any enjoy every single one of those things, you will not enjoy Shifting Stones.

And I’ll be honest, there are plenty of times when I am not in the mood for those things. I definitely have to be in the mood for Shifting Stones. However, I think that it is a game that will work a family audience, a casual audience, that wouldn’t be interested in a lot of other games.

I learned it on Board Game Arena and, to be brutally honest, it is one of the few games I’ve learned there that I would think about getting an analog version. There are a lot of people who are not going to enjoy Shifting Stones but those who are in its niche will really like it. Yes, you can say that about almost any game but I think you can say it even more so for this one.

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