Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Spring 2008 Games
Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: MindWare
Price: $24.95
Based on the "sandpile theory" (roughly described as "what goes up must come down"), this strategic stacking game does occasionally collapse into chaos. Two players each have 12 playing pieces, which they take turns placing on the game board one at a time -- either on an empty circled space or on top of another piece already on the board. A player who adds a fourth playing piece to any stack must "topple" the stack by removing all four pieces and distributing them on the four adjacent spaces, starting with the space farthest from the player and proceeding clockwise.

In distributing playing pieces from a stack not in the center of the board, one or two of the playing pieces may land outside the circled spaces. In this case, the "outsiders" are returned to the player whose color they are. Note: This is not good, since the goal of the game is to be first to get all of your playing pieces on the board.

The interest level perks up when pieces from a toppled stack become part of one or more new stacks. The original player must continue toppling until there are no resulting stacks left. During these multiple redistributions of playing pieces, there are many surprises, and it is almost impossible to predict who is ahead until your own playing pieces are returned to you. The rules include some useful strategy tips, as well as the suggestion that fewer playing pieces could be used for a shorter game or for younger players. Or for beginning players, some of our testers added.

Ruth B. Roufberg   ©2008 Parents' Choice

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