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Stacklands is Solitaire and Minecraft Banding Together To Distract You From Work

For years, the attention span of office workers was assaulted by the existence of Solitaire. The card game was included on many PCs to help people understand how new operating systems on computers worked, and instead led to a new way to ignore important tasks. Over time, Minecraft also became a popular timesink among workers, students, and anyone missing a creative outlet.

Now a new threat to free time has emerged, and you should definitely try it out, no matter what else you should be doing. Stacklands is a game about stacking cards on top of each other, and turning logs and rocks into usable building materials. It’s also incredibly cheap, has an adorable art style, and is made by one of the best indie developers around.

Sokpop Collective is a group of four from The Netherlands who have been making games since 2017. Their mission is to release 100 games, and they are almost at that goal, having created more than 80 games since their inception. For about five bucks per game (or other pricing options, including everything in their catalog for $200) they have many impressive games worthy of attention.

Stacklands is one of a handful of card-based games Sokpop has created, and ranks among the best the group has put out. After a simple options screen you’re greeted with a pack of cards. Cracking the pack reveals a few items and a villager. Any resource management game fan will recognize what comes next: dragging and dropping the Villager onto other cards (like Wood) brings up a progress bar, and when it’s completed you’re rewarded with an item (like Stick).

From there, you sell your resources at the top of the screen to get coins. Those coins can be used to buy progressively progressive packs that give advanced crafting items and recipes. You go on to recruit more villagers (and breed them), visit faraway lands (and find treasure), raise livestock (and murder them), and fight off giant rats and slimes just by making piles of cards. Eventually you’ll have plenty of habitat and food options in your records that you can review at any time, even if all your villagers die and the game ends.

Yes, on top of everything else it offers, there’s a roguelike element to Stacklands. If you have no more villagers, you’re kicked back to the title screen. Luckily, you still have a menu containing every item you’ve created and how to create it. That way you’ll remember how to make a stone quarry so you can begin quickly constructing silver armor for your villagers to defend against goblins.

There are a lot of ways to waste time. Stacklands is one of the best because it deftly combines two of the most popular ways to waste time into a neat little package. It also looks and sounds great, with an art and music style that evokes a calm Sunday afternoon in a garden. So if you’re staring at an inbox full of important messages, ignore them and visit the wonderful Stacklands.

I would recommend playing Stacklands if:

  • You like to waste free time by playing chill wind-down games. All of the aesthetics are calming, and you have near full control over how fast time passes. Though there is combat, you can turn it off when you start a new cycle. That way your only worry is figuring out how to get enough berries to keep everyone alive.
  • You like card games. Inscryption is the king of putting thought and care into simple cards, but Stacklands is a close second. There’s also little touches that show this was made by card game aficionados. For instance, each upgrade is presented as a card in a card pack, so cracking them open is rather satisfying. Plus you can randomly open foils for more value!
  • You want to play something new but have a tight budget. For $4.99 on Steam I picked this up, and have had more fun with it than a recently purchased $60 title. This is also a gateway game to all of Sokpop’s inventive and cheap titles.

I would not recommend Stacklands if:

  • You are not a roguelike fan. If you’re not paying attention things can go sideways, and on a moon cycle where you’re trying to get more stone, you can forget to feed your Villagers. From there your bad luck can cascade, and if you have combat turned on monsters can quickly end the runs of the unprepared.
  • You do not want to make your own instruction manual. There are quests you can complete to help you progress, but there is no hand-holding in this game. It might take some time to grasp, but if you can make the time, Stacklands can be very satisfying.

You can purchase Stacklands through Steam or Sokpop’s page

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