review by Alapai
Stack'n Stuff is a tile placement game by Lookout Games for 2 players. In it, you play two moving truck drivers trying to pack as many items into your truck as you can so that you can earn more money than your opponent.
To start, each player gets a truck board that contains a 7x7 grid. You also set up the time board and put all the beige stack tiles around the time board in a circle, placing the truck token in between the 3 square tile and the next stack tile clockwise. As opposed to taking alternate turns, whoever is furthest back is the player who takes their turn. On your turn, you can either A) move your time token until it is on the space past your opponent's, earning 1 coin for each space you move into; or B) select a tile to place on your truck board. You can select a tile from among the three tiles next in clockwise order from the truck token. When you select a tile, you spend coins equal to the coin value on the tile to take it and move your time token a number of spaces equal to the time value on the tile. You then move the truck token to where the tile you're selecting is and place the tile on your truck board, making sure it does not overlap another tile or go off the board. As you move along the time board, there are spaces where you get to take an income of coins for each coin symbol on your tiles on your truck board, earning you back coins to spend. There are also a small number of box tiles that go to the first person to pass them, being useful by filling up a single space on a board. When there get to be only 5 stack tiles left, there are 8 smaller stuff tiles you add behind the truck token, giving a few more options for the end of the game. Once both players have reached the end of the time board, you calculate your score by earning one point for each coin you have and subtracting two points for each space left unfilled on your truck board.
As you might be able to deduce if you've played it before, this is a version of the game Patchwork. Actually, it is a reskin of the game Patchwork Express which is a version of the game Patchwork. What's the difference between Patchwork and Stack'n Stuff? Well, gameplay wise, there are a few changes. First, Patchwork uses a 9x9 grid while Stack'n Stuff uses a 7x7 grid. Second, Patchwork doesn't have the smaller stuff tiles to add on at the end; all of the tiles in Patchwork are around the board at the beginning. Third, Patchwork has a bonus for filling out a smaller grid that's worth bonus points. Other than that, there's just the detail differences, like the numbers, shapes and costs of tiles and the length of the time board and placement of bonuses on the time board. Cosmetically, Patchwork is a game about putting together a quilt, with patches as the tiles and buttons as the currency, while Stack'n Stuff is a game about packing a moving truck, with various different items as the tiles and coins as the currency.
I really like Stack'n Stuff, as I am a big fan of puzzle games and trying to fit things together. Stack'n Stuff does a great job of providing a puzzle to try and solve, giving you both the physical aspect of fitting the stack and stuff tiles into your truck as well as the gameplay puzzle of how to best spend coins and time, as well as how to try to play around your opponent who is doing the same thing as you. Now, that also could apply to Patchwork, so as you might guess, I'm a big fan of Patchwork as well. How do the games actually compare? Well, the main difference between the two is the grid size which is also responsible for how much time each game takes. Patchwork, with its 9x9 grid is a longer game than Stack'n Stuff with its 7x7 grid. In fact, while it's just 2 squares larger in each direction, you have 81 squares to fill vs 49, which is a significant amount of space and therefore number of tiles to fill the grid. So gameplay wise, Patchwork will take a longer time to finish. Now, as Patchwork is only a ~30 minute game, Stack'n Stuff is pretty short, taking closer to ~20 minutes. Aesthetically, I think a quilt is a better choice for the gameplay, as a quilt is 2D as opposed to a moving truck in 3D and that you are trying to complete your quilt in an amount of time makes more sense to me than packing the items while on the way to the destination (as the time board for Stack'n Stuff shows a journey along a road). But, despite all that, I think Stack'n Stuff still works as its own game because it is aimed at a younger audience. Patchwork doesn't require a lot to comprehend how to play, so it is a game that is recommended on the box for 8+ and Stack'n Stuff isn't much simpler, so it's recommended for 6+, but I think that Patchwork is a game not designed for 8 year olds as much as it is a game that an 8 year old could play. Stack'n Stuff on the other hand is aimed towards kids, with a brighter aesthetic and a concept that is, while not super action packed, more intended as something a kid would be more likely to understand. The items you're packing into the truck in Stack'n Stuff include a scooter, stuffed animals and a surfboard. With Patchwork, you're putting a quilt together; not a task most children will think of doing. As such, Stack'n Stuff is great as a kids version of Patchwork. While the aesthetic isn't a perfect 1 to 1 adaptation from patching together a quilt, Stack'n Stuff puts a more kids-friendly look on a great game and makes it just a tad simpler to make a better version of Patchwork when dealing with a younger audience.
If you want a great 2 player game that you can play with kids, Stack'n Stuff is a fantastic game that is relatively simple to learn, but with a lot of strategy and an aesthetic that will keep a kid more interested than the original Patchwork.
Stack'n Stuff is available now from our webstore.