Calvin’s Commentaries: STAIRS

First look at the rule set of the 2023 release Stairs, the feeling was the game might be a bit scant in depth.

The first play was a pleasant surprise and as we gave this little gem extra plays the shine certainly stayed on this one.

Stairs is a stacking game from rather prolific designer Kanare Kato consisting of a set of rules that are quite simple, yet create some neat choices as the game – 15-20 minutes will likely complete most – plays out.

Each player has 18 pieces that begin the board distributed evenly across the 6×6 grid board.

In a turn, a player moves one piece to an adjacent space, but in that move, the piece must end up exactly one level higher than before the move.

The other important rule, a player must also move one of their pieces on the lowest stack that can be moved. This one becomes huge as you might move the top piece of a stack and then leave the remaining piece as your lowest piece, meaning it might not be the most beneficial to move. Manipulating stacks to force unwanted moves is a big element here.
The end goal is again simple enough – at least in theory – that is to place your piece so that at the end of the game your piece is on the top of the tallest stack.

Like most of Kato’s games, Stairs comes in a small little box with a nice looking – albeit smallish – cloth board inside.
Since it’s small, Stairs is easily portable, but we’d recommend putting it on a board at a coffee shop or pub, in case of spills. We bought a cheese board at a dollar store that works nicely.

The pieces are wood, nicely sized, and in black and white, all of which are very nice. But, the smallish board means the pieces are rather crowded – especially for big fingers.

That small issue is easily overlooked though when you have a game that was such a pleasant surprise. This is one you will play often, and while may be a little overall scant to make the final five, will have to be considered when looking back on the top games of 2024.

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