|Release Date: 2023
|Designer: Dax Gazaway
|Length: 30-60 minutes
|Publisher: Red Flag Game Studio
|Complexity: 1.0 / 5
|Plastic (by weight): 45%
|Air (by volume): 45%
Using chopsticks isn’t easy. A lot of people are uncomfortable with or have no experience using them. However, like so many things in life, it’s all a matter of practice. So rather than embarrassing yourself in front of a restaurant full of people who seemingly have no problem picking up their food with two wooden sticks and transporting it to their mouths, you could just learn how to use them in the comfort of your own home with family or friends who might also want to master them. To answer the challenge and make it a fun experience, here is Chop Stacks by Dax Gazaway from Red Flag Game Studio.
Yes, it’s pretty much as simple as that. The game designer literally just wanted to provide a game that allows you to practice using chopsticks, while having fun with other people. As you get better at picking up the small tokens, beads, mini erasers or other items and placing them on the tiny table, you will soon be ready to show off your skills and become creative.
Pick Up and Stack
There isn’t really a lot to say about Chop Stacks. The gameplay really is as simple as taking turns picking out one piece from the wonderful mix of items that comes in the game box, grabbing it with your chopsticks, lifting it out of the box, carrying it over to the tiny table that loosely sits on a tiny plinth and placing it carefully on top without dropping it in the process or knocking anything off.
Anything that does land on your board game table instead of staying on the Chop Stacks table goes in front of you and basically counts as minus points. Once someone has at least five items in front of them, the round ends. Everyone counts the items they have in front and adds them to a tally. Repeat the whole thing once per player. After the final round, whoever has the smallest tally, meaning whoever dropped the least number of items, wins.
That literally is all there is to it. No fancy rules. No timers. Nothing but simplicity. After all, learning how to use chopsticks is the tricky bit and the thing that the game wants you to focus on. It’s good that there are no other distractions.
Yet, while the rules of the game are simple, a lot of attention has been paid to the components. Of course, the game comes with two pairs of chopsticks. Passing these around is easy enough, even if you play at the maximum player count of 8 people. However, if you prefer, you can happily add your own sets of chopsticks. It’s up to you.
That’s not what I’m talking about though. It’s the mix of items that you pick up and place on the tiny table and it’s the tiny table as well.
Attention to Detail
Let’s start with the table. It’s simply a small plinth and a round disc, printed with a tablecloth and some sort of place setting. You place the disc on top of the plinth. They don’t snap together though. It’s stable enough as it is, but of course, it does create a slight imbalance that ensures the game won’t last forever and eventually pieces will tumble.
The pieces themselves are also really varied and interesting. Some items are really easy to pick up and place on the table, such as the small beads or mini cubes. The cubes are also great for stacking. However, there are also mini erasers in the shape of fruit or cupcakes. These are slightly trickier to handle, but still doable. I reckon the plastic gems are a step up from the other items, but the hardest to pick up and place are the small plastic balls. With some practice, you will be able to manage them eventually. Actually, there is one item that’s even trickier than the balls. There is a tiny red gem in the box that is going to be your ultimate challenge.
The components have been chosen quite carefully to offer options for someone just learning to use chopsticks to be able to succeed, while also offering a few more challenging pieces for the advanced or expert chopstick users.
Once everyone has reached a certain level of chopstick skill, the game continues to challenge you. Now it’s going to be a matter of players placing items in the most awkward position to make it hard, if not impossible, for the next player to place theirs. Players might also start to challenge each other to pick up a specific item and place it in a specific place.
In the games we played, we enjoyed placing the thin tubes into the long beads, making them look like straws in drinks glasses. We also challenged each other to build the highest stack of pieces. So even though this is technically a competitive game about dropping the least amount of items, Chop Sticks soon becomes a game of daring and challenging each other to carry out the trickiest feats or set the most beautiful table.
I think that’s really the core of the game and is what makes it so much fun. Focussing on learning how to use your chopsticks is how you’ll start, but eventually, you get to a point where you just want to show off the most impossible move. That’s exactly what the designer wanted to achieve and Chop Stacks achieves it perfectly.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to give the game a go, then I don’t know. For half an hour to an hour of mad chop stacking, Chop Stacks is the perfect game. We certainly laughed a lot and had a great time with all the family. It’s a game that will come out very regularly and will stay in my collection for a long time to come.
I feel that this review reflects my own, independent and honest opinion, but the facts below allow you to decide whether you think that I was influenced in any way.
- I was sent a free review copy of this game by the publisher.
- At the time of writing, neither the designers, nor the publisher, nor anyone linked to the game supported me financially or by payment in kind.
Intro Music: Bomber (Sting) by Riot (https://www.
License code: OWQUYIMY3KHKT3KE
License code: IHTSJO2J48CR4I4U
These are the songs I listened to while I was writing this review: