The premise of this game could hardly be simpler. You have a pile of coloured wooden blocks in front of you. You draw cards which illustrate structures and you stack the blocks to build constructs that match the illustration. Succeed and you earn the number of points specified on the card. The game is played against the clock, so this is a speed dexterity game: you'll be trying to complete as many structure cards as you can in 90 seconds. Each round is won by the player with the most points and the game ends when a player wins two consecutive rounds.
Players aren't solely passive observers on other players' turns because everyone has a hand of cards that can each be played to boost your own score or to interfere with the active player's turn. This is a neat device for making an essentially solitaire activity genuinely interactive and, in play, you'll find the way in which these cards are used satisfyingly adds to the mayhem that's already inherent in any speed dexterity game.
Blockers is not without its flaws. Some of the structure cards seem to offer overgenerous points rewards while others appear undervalued. This probably evens out over the course of a game that runs for several swift rounds but that won't prevent the howls of protest when you draw a card with an easy structure that gives you more points than your opponent got for something much more complicated. We took greater issue with the game ending win condition. Blockers officially takes 2–6 players, tho' there is no intrinsic reason why you can't include more players. However, with more than two or three players, the two consecutive round win condition risks this game overstaying its welcome. This is easily solved by substituting your own win condition. We tried first player to win three rounds; first player to reach a pre-agreed number of points; and, simplest of all, playing a set number of rounds and giving the win to the player with the highest cumulative score. All of these worked well and made for a tenser more exciting game than when we played using the win condition set out in the rules.
And while we're adding house rules, we were surprised that our copy of Blockers didn't incorporate rules for solo play. This is a game that readily lends itself to a solitaire variant. You can, for example, set yourself a target score for 5 rounds and try to beat your own personal best. This makes for a very enjoyable filler-length solitaire game that you can play through from set up to pack away in around 10 minutes.
Especially if you experiment with our suggested tweaks, then you'll find Blockers a very accessible game that can be played and enjoyed by players of all ages. And one where the players' hands of cards add ample room for tactical play and even a bit of healthy sabotage.
Blockers: The Stacking Game is designed by Niall Crabtree and published by Crab Studios. It's due to hit Kickstarter on 28 February. We'll post a link here when the KS campaign goes live.