Staccabees is a surprisingly fun stacking game (as you might guess from the name).

There are three different sizes of hardwood cubes: the natural-wood-colored are the largest, the orange are next, and the white, the smallest. There’s a 4-sided top-like thing. You spin it. If, when it finally falls over, an S is on top, you take half of any of the three kinds (rounding up if the number is uneven) in your collection, and add them to the STAC. If a T is on top, you take the top cube off the STAC and add it to your stock. If an A is showing, you add all of any one kind of your blocks to the STAC. And if a C is revealed, you don’t do anything. Which, depending on how high the stack, can be a great relief.

There’s a total of 54 blocks. Each player gets 3 of each kind of block, which leaves enough for as many as 6 players. Players take turns spinning the top-like thing (which some scholars refer to as a teetotum, while others of a more ethnic bent think of as a driedel), following the directions, and hoping that they: a) don’t make the stack fall, and b) be the first to use up all their blocks.

Though the rules are simple (it may take a while to remember what each letter on the teetotum stands for, but after a few games, it’s not an issue), they are very cleverly designed. If you are unfortunate enough to have toppled the tower, when it’s your turn again, and you get something like A for all or S for half, you could very likely get rid of a lot of blocks, and, at the same time, radically increase the height of the tower (and it’s instability) for the next player.

This makes Staccabees remain fun until the very last spin. Even someone with only one block left can easily find herself still playing round after round after round. And if you seem to have gathered a great many blocks, there’s still the possibility that you can turn your fate completely around with a single spin.

There’s a delightfully growing tension to the game, which is even more delightfully balanced by at least an equal amount of laughter.

Everything is well made (all hardwood), and comes with a cloth, drawstring bag for easy transportation – which is something you’ll want to do a lot, take the game with you, just about everywhere.

Staccabees, designed by Daniel Singer and Bruce Kothmann, is as fun for kids as it is for the entire family. Major fun.

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