AKA Gra Gra Company
List Price: $24.99
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(Worth 1,995 Funagain Points!)
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In today's market, companies grow at a rapid rate. But if they grow too rapidly, they may become unstable. You are investing in these companies and aiding in their growth by stacking cubes that represent the headquarters of each company. The higher the headquarters the more that company is worth -- and if you don't have a steady hand or a smart investment, the company can become unstable and crash, reducing its worth, and your assets, to nothing.
An original dexterity game with an investment angle.
- 60 dice
- 1 Height chart
- 1 paper ruler
- 4 company cards
- 4 company markers
- 1 height card and marker
Average Rating: 2 in 1 review
StackMarket (Z-man Games, 2007 – Susumu Kawasaki) has some rather ingenious mechanics, as it uses dice and dexterity to simulate the stock market (hence – the name). Players are attempting to invest in the tallest tower on the board, hoping that a stock crash, both literal and figuratively, will not happen. The game tends to be more about steady hands than shrewd investing, and it’s certainly something that I’ve never seen before.
That being said, I’m a bit disappointed by the actual game play, which turns into a dexterity and luck game more than anything else. Yes, I think some aspects are rather inventive, such as using the pips on the dice to represent windows in the towers; but overall the game just generated a ho-hum feel, as players’ choices are often obvious, and a clumsy player will be at a loss, no matter what else they do. Stack Market is certainly an innovative game, but I’m not sure that it’s a fun one.
The main component of the game is a pile of dice, each numbered “0”, “0”, “1”, “2”, “3”, and “4”. Each player receives $50,000, which they can keep hidden for the game; they also receive two markers of their color. One company card per player is placed on the table – each with two investment slots on it. A “height” sheet is placed nearby, with a marker for each company on it – all starting at height of three. Three dice are rolled and placed in a stack with the highest number rolled face up, in front of each company card. Players each invest in one of the companies, keeping the other token in front of them to delineate their color. One player is chosen to go first, and then play proceeds clockwise around the table.
On a player’s turn, they first must roll a number of dice that are equal to the number of dice currently in the building they are invested in. After rolling, the player checks to see if they must add the dice to the tower, being forced to add all the dice that they possibly can. Dice can be added to the tower if they are of a higher number than the top die on the tower. For example, if a “2” is face up on a tower, a “3” or “4” could be placed on it. A blank die can be placed on top of a “4”. Players can stack as many of the dice (legally) as they can, provided they use one hand. The height of the building is then adjusted on the height sheet, as long as the building doesn’t fall over. If they manage to increase the height by five or more, then they receive a $10,000 bonus from the bank. Also, if a building reaches height “15”, then the player gets a card for “highest building”. This card is passed to another player if they build a higher building. After rolling and stacking, the player may change their investment to any open space in any of the companies.
If a tower falls, then each player invested in the company must pay $20,000 to the bank. Five of the dice are removed from the game, and three dice are rolled to restart the company. When players run out of dice (either from removing them from the game or they are all on towers), then the round ends. Players now will check the two buildings, which are highest and lowest (numbers on top break ties). The higher company must attempt to “take over” the lower company. This is done by a player who is invested in the company taking the dice of the smaller company and placing them on top of the larger. If they are successful, then all players invested in the higher building receive $30,000, if invested alone, and $40,000, if invested with another player. If they are not successful, they must pay $20,000 to the bank; and each player invested in the smaller building gets $10,000 if invested alone, and $20,000 if invested with another player. The player with the highest building card also gets $20,000, as long as they received money elsewhere. Players invested in the building(s) not involved in the takeover get $10,000 if alone, $20,000 if with other players.
A new round is started, and all dice are returned to the game. After three rounds, the player with the most money is the winner!
Some comments on the game…
- Components: There are a lot of pieces in the small box (with odd
illustrations on it), but they’re mostly the square dice. I actually
think the dice are quite interesting, as the pips on each side look
like windows, giving the stack of dice the look of a skyscraper. The
rest of the components are merely okay, with wooden discs used for the
player’s investment tokens and paper money (ugh). I normally don’t
like paper money, but in this case it’s even more annoying since a
player is supposed to keep it secret. Considering that the game is
all about dexterity, where is a player supposed to hide it? Stack
Market also includes a paper measure, which can be used to quickly
count the floors in a tower. While it’s a nice idea, I found that
it’s usually just easier to count the floors.
- Rules: The four pages of rules, with examples, are fairly easy to
understand with some hints for new players. The only hang up I had
was the actual tower stacking rules, which were a bit confusing.
Teaching the game is easy, although players often don’t understand
investments until the first round is over.
- Luck: Since the game involves rolling dice, there should be some
luck involved; but sometimes it’s just a little too much for me. I’ve
seen many turns where a player rolls a die – sometimes a LOT of dice
-- yet doesn’t get the number necessary to place any of them on the
tower. Stacking five dice on a tower is a good way to get a bonus in
the game, and it’s annoying when you have to stack four while others
get to stack more. Some might think the luck evens out over the
course of the game – and it’s true – everyone is evenly annoyed.
- Dexterity: The game comes down to a “Jenga” type style, as
players are stacking dice on top of each other. This is fun – to a
point, but stacking dice for forty minutes isn’t really something that
excited me that much. Sure, there are some small measures of
strategy; but if you can’t stack dice, you won’t do well. I thought
the idea of investing in a building and stacking the dice poorly for
the other player was a good idea, but it seems that it’s often the
ONLY idea. The worst part of this dexterity is that a clumsy person
will really ruin the game for everyone. Seeing tower after tower fall
is really quite boring and will cause a round to end in a most
undramatic way. In some games I’ve participated in there was never
any reason to be in the tall tower, since the person attempting the
takeover would invariably drop the dice everywhere. This also can
cause some rather boring scores, as players who drop the dice lose
themselves and their partners (if any) money. And I’m not really
criticizing “clumsy” people, as stacking the dice – especially in
higher levels, is a really difficult thing to do! Again, I wouldn’t
mind it, if there were other things going on.
- Investments: The three-player game is quite boring compared to a
four-player game, as two players invariably gang up on the third. In
a four-player game there are more options; but as I said above, it all
comes down to the stacking. Most of the time, it makes sense to
invest in anything except the tallest building, just so that a player
can avoid the paralyzing effects of a building collapse. I suppose
that the real game is to hang out with those who have sturdy hands,
but that’s tremendously unfun for those who are ungainly.
- Fun Factor: You may get a measure of fun out of Stack Market if
you enjoy dexterity games (although why not play a really good one –
like Villa Paletti?) The investment part is an interesting twist, but
it doesn’t provide the fun I thought it would. If I want to play a
straight up investment game, I’d prefer another game by the same
company - Owner’s Choice. I will admit that my fingers were clumsy
stacking the dice, and I sat there the whole time, worrying about my
tower collapsing. While that may simulate real life quite nicely,
it’s not much fun.
If you go into Stack Market realizing that it’s mainly a dexterity game, with only the glimpse of economic trappings, then perhaps you’ll have more fun than I did. I enjoy economic games but wouldn’t consider this one high on the list. Sadly, I wouldn’t consider it very highly on a dexterity game list either. Stack Market attempts to be a game that straddles two different genres and ends up being a mediocre example of both. Some might like the unique factor of it; I’ll simply pass it by for something more interesting.
“Real men play board games”