Hidden Gems - Shelfie Stacker by Shem Phillips

Hey everybody! Welcome back.  This week on Hidden Gems I look at a new game made right here in Kiwiland! Shelfie Stacker is a 1-4 player dice drafting game by Arkus Games and designed by Shem Phillips creator of The North Sea and The West Kingdoms series’. This one will likely find some appeal for those of us who struggle with game storage.  Let’s get into it!

Shelfie Stacker is a dice drafting and hand management game themed around sorting your board game collection and getting it to all fit comfortably on your shelves. The custom dice represent the number of games you’re trying to sort by way of a drafting round that’s similar to Azul in that dice are drawn from a bag and placed on several delivery boxes in the centre of the game space.  Players then take turns to take all the dice from a box and attempt to place them on their player boards, which represent their shelves. Dice can only be stacked on smaller numbers, so low numbers at the bottom and higher numbers at the top. There are of course exceptions to these rules. 

Each player has a hand of character cards that feature different abilities which can bend or break the rules of the game.  At the start of each round, players choose a character to play, for instance The Upgrade Addict who will allow you to increase the value of a dice by 1 or The Playtester who can change one dice to any value. There are several characters to choose from  and, while each player has the same selection of characters in their hand, they can choose which round to use them, meaning everyone is on equal footing and it’s up to the players to strategize the best time to play each card.  Characters are each assigned an initiative number which are different for each player, so if two players play the same character on the same round, one will go before the other based on this initiative number.

I would describe this game as Azul meets Sagrada as the game combines the mechanics utilised in both of those titles.  I feel Shelfie Stacker takes the best of both worlds and mashes them together to create a fantastic dice drafting strategy game, one the whole family can enjoy. The components are colourful with 88 colourful dice and 64 character cards.  The player boards are double layered, so placing dice emulates the satisfaction one feels when placing a new game on their shelves. Shelfie Stacker uses the popular Game Trayz system for storage and the artwork on the cards is playful and lighthearted, which, while it may not appeal to everyone, nonetheless suits the theme well.  Games take place over 7 rounds and play in about 30-40 minutes and, with the range of characters included, replayability is high. The inclusion of a solo mode is a strong selling point too.

It’s great to see another amazing game from our homegrown talent.  Now the irony is I’ll have to make room for this on my real-world shelves…. talk about meta gaming!

Hidden gems