Quick Look – Stacklands

I picked up my first Sokpop Collective game – Simmiland – back in April of 2020, and not only did I really enjoy it, I discovered that what they’ve been doing for quite awhile now is really pretty cool. Every month, they make a new game in their personal style. Not everything they’ve put out has been of interest to me, but shortly after Stacklands came out, I read up on it on Indiecator, and thought that it would probably be right up my alley. During the most recent Steam Summer sale, I noticed it was part of a bundle with a handful of Sokpop’s other strategy games, and I decided that I might as well just grab the whole bundle.

Stacklands starts you out with just a handful of cards, among which is a single villager, and a list of completeable quests down the left size of the screen. When you’re first starting out, you’re going to need to focus on these quests; they serve a dual purpose of teaching you how the game is played as well as unlocking more varied cards for your to play with.

Picking up the villager card and dropping it onto any other card will make your villager interact with that item if possible. Stack your villager on top of a berry bush, and he will turn that card into a handful of berries. Drop him on a rock, and he’ll break it down into stones (or something else if you’re particularly lucky). Almost all of the cards you get can be sold, turning them into Coin cards, which can be used to buy more card packs.

But buying cards is only part of the equation. During each cycle of the game, referred to here as Moons, you will need to make sure you have enough food cards to feed all of your villagers. Any villagers that don’t have enough food at the change of the moon won’t survive to help you during the next cycle. You also have to keep an eye on the total number of cards on your board – if, after feeding your villagers, you still have more (non-coin) cards than your current maximum card count, you’ll need to sell off the excess before you can proceed.

I’m sure there is an actual win condition, but in seven hours of playing, I have yet to find it. Each time you run out of villagers, you start back at the beginning, but with all the knowledge you’ve gained in prior play throughs tucked away in your sidebar, as well as all the deck types you’ve previously unlocked being available to purchase. I’ve exclusively played on the default settings (Moon Length: Normal and Peaceful Mode: Off), and since an entirely new section of the game was just recently added – for free, I might add – I’ve only managed to complete about half the game on my main save.

Ignore that 5% complete save – I just used that one to grab a few early game screen shots!

The concept of the game is really pretty simple, but it doesn’t play simply. Each card pack you can purchase has a set variety of available cards, but sometimes you can buy pack after pack and still not get what you’re looking for to progress. You can – and probably will – just try mashing random cards together at first to see what happens, but you will eventually receive idea cards that will give you the recipe for something you have yet to discover on your own. All of those ideas will be saved for you in the sidebar, and you can reference them whenever you need to, but if you find yourself playing just one more run, you’ll probably have the most important ones memorized before too long.

There is an impressive amount of game here for less than $5. I usually don’t go in for card games, or games with a lot of randomized aspects, and I found myself going back to Stacklands every time I had a few free minutes over the course of about a week. I’ve taken a bit of a break from it now, but it’s a game I can see myself returning to again and again, probably even once I’ve unlocked every card and discovered every idea it has to offer.

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