02 March 2022
A neat, meta twist
When he isn’t creating neat, epic historical board games, Kiwi designer Shem Phillips likes to make smaller games that involve lots of dice that you never roll. In 2019, he created Noctiluca, a gorgeous, more-ish abstract dice-collection title, in which each die represents a bioluminescent micro-organism. Now, with Shelfie Stacker, each cube represents a pile of board games that must be loaded up on Kallax-style shelves in the most pleasing manner possible.
It’s a neat, meta twist that is engineered to appeal to anyone serious about the hobby (but not too serious about themselves), and thanks to publisher Arkus, it’s also a game that comes with top-quality components (those dice are fantastic) and an engaging art style. However, what isn’t so engaging is the actual game play.
Each round each player chooses three dice, which they’re not allowed to turn, and must place them on their shelf so they are arranged in increasing value from bottom to top, in columns of matching colours. Any you can’t place have to go on your point-negating Shelf of Shame. That, essentially, is pretty much it.
Sure, you each have a hand of character cards, which you can play to give you some rule-bending flex, and there are also some shared, extra-point-scoring ‘mission’ cards to add some challenge, but none of that really lifts you from the fundamental reality of the experience: that you’re arranging dice in an honestly not-massively-inspiring way.
It is light and, thanks to its self-referential theme, mildly diverting, so is unlikely to offend anyone if you pull it out as a game-night warm up. However, from such an accomplished designer as Phillips, it is a little disappointing.
PLAY IT? MAYBE
Designer: Shem Phillips
Time: 30 minutes
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