Stacklands - Stop Slackin' and Start Stackin'!
All It Takes Is the Right Cards to Build a Thriving Society
A Village Builder With a Twist
If you're a long-time gamer, you've probably played several games in the genre of village or city builders. However, you almost certainly haven't played one like Stacklands.
Developed and published by Sokpop Collective, Stacklands is an entirely card-based village builder simulation. The unique game—which is only available for PC—features many typical elements that will please fans of classic city-building titles. However, the game's card-collecting aspects, creative gameplay, and sense of humor give Stacklands a new and distinct feel.
Create a Thriving Card Village
In Stacklands, it's all about the cards. You use cards to build structures, collect resources, and fight monsters. When you want to expand your village, you collect new cards. Every aspect of the game is card-based, and your entire settlement consists of the various cards laid out before you.
The goal is to grow your village as much as possible while keeping your villagers alive. There are quests to complete, card packs to collect, and many resources to obtain and use. Stacklands features more than 100 different cards, and many of them can interact with each other to unlock numerous possibilities for your village.
Stacklands is a simulation game, and things will continue happening at all times. It's up to you to put your villagers and resources to good use and make the right choices to keep the village flourishing.
Concept Rating: 4/5
Simple and Relaxing Atmosphere
All of Stacklands takes place against the same minimalist background. The workings of your card village are on top of a large green landscape of gentle trees and bushes, which gives the game a peaceful atmosphere—even when things get chaotic in your village.
The animation isn't anything fancy, but with a card game like Stacklands, flashy graphics could easily distract from the gameplay. Overall, though, the cards look neat, tidy, and consistent, and the visuals exude a calm, relaxing feel overall.
Stacklands has a subtle soundtrack, with the only audio being the subtle background music and the occasional sound effects from card interactions. While the music is a pleasant accompaniment to the gameplay, Stacklands is a game that allows you to listen to your own tunes while playing without missing much.
Graphics & Audio Rating: 3/5
Using Your Cards Wisely
When you begin your Stacklands village, you have a few cards to get started. For example, you may have a villager, a gold coin, a berry bush, a rock, and a tree. You'll also get your first quest to give you an immediate objective to accomplish.
The key to the game is using the cards together to create useful items and earn new cards through completing quests. To make two of your cards interact, all you have to do is stack one on top of the other. For instance, if you drag your villager card on top of a berry bush card and wait a few seconds, the villager will pick a berry, which you can use to feed your people. If you leave it stacked, it will keep collecting berries until you remove it.
The quests are where you'll see the game's humor shine through. While many of them are straightforward tasks like collecting a certain amount of wood, you may also get one that tells you to "punch a rock." Then, of course, you obey by stacking your villager onto a rock card and letting them do the rest.
Earning New Packs
If you've ever collected trading cards, either as a kid or an adult, you know the unique thrill of opening a crisp new pack to see what you scored. In Stacklands, you get to experience that same kind of excitement.
Packs contain multiple cards that you can use to expand your village. Every pack has a focus such as Cooking, Farming, or Building.
The game features seven unique card packs, which you can purchase with coin cards from your village. To earn the coin cards, all you need to do is sell any cards that you don't need. When you open a pack, you'll receive a variety of cards that can help you keep your village thriving.
Getting Creative With Idea Cards
As you play and collect cards, you will occasionally be lucky enough to find an Idea Card. These specialty cards are unlike any other card in the game, and they increase the number of options you have for improving your village. Instead of being a resource that you can use, Idea Cards let you in on a gameplay secret.
Each Idea Card will give you a new recipe for something you can develop with your cards. For example, an Idea Card might tell you that by combining three wood cards, one stone card, and a villager card, you can create a lumber camp. Then, that lumber camp will allow you to gather wood more efficiently.
The more Idea Cards you collect, the more impressive and easy to sustain your settlement will become. Rather than only collecting and using resources in the most basic ways, finding new Ideas will unlock many exciting possibilities.
Keeping Your Villagers Alive
If you like a little bit of combat in your video games, then have no fear; Stacklands has you covered. While you're gathering resources and keeping your villagers fed, an evil goblin, bear, rat, or other creature might pop up out of nowhere. When one of these creatures runs into a villager, they'll automatically attack.
To ensure that your villagers don't go extinct, you can equip them with weapons or have them team up together to fight off the evil attackers. You must keep your villagers well-protected; if you run out of living villagers, it's game over.
At the end of every Moon you'll need to feed all your villagers - so make sure you have enough food, or your villagers will starve!
The other primary way that your villagers may die-off is starvation. The simulation runs in moon cycles, and at the end of each one, you must have enough food cards to feed your villagers. This adds an extra challenge, as it forces you to devote at least a chunk of your time to collecting food.
Gameplay Rating: 4/5
Time To Start Your Village
The full version of Stacklands launched on April 8th, 2022, and has quickly gained a rabid following. You can purchase the indie game for only $5 on Steam or Itch.io, and if you want to support the developers, you have the option to donate as much extra money as you like. The price is more than fair for what you're getting. Plus, if you buy it as an impulse purchase, you won't need to feel guilty about spending lots of money.
A Quick, Engaging Play
If you enjoy city builders and want to try one with a novel spin, Stacklands is a gaming experience you won't want to pass up. The card battler, which manages to be both fast-paced and relaxing, allows you to use your strategy, creativity, and quick thinking to keep your village going. Plus, the card-collecting and occasional silly humor are the icing on the cake.
Stacklands also has fantastic replay value. Each time you play, you'll unlock different cards, packs, and ideas than last time. So, you'll be able to go in different directions and use different methods each time you start a village.
Replay Value Rating: 5/5
- Unique, creative concept.
- Hundreds of possibilities for your village.
- Plenty of silly humor.
- Relaxing gameplay.
- Relatively uninteresting graphics.
- Not much of a soundtrack.
- A bit boring after long stretches.
Stacklands is a card-based village-building game with engaging gameplay, a great sense of humor, and endless options for how to succeed.