It’s always exciting to unlock a whole new card in a card game. Unfortunately, my last card is a corpse card, because one of my villagers just starved to death trying to make a baby with my other villager in their newly built house. What tragedy! I needed four berries at nightfall to feed my two citizens, and I only had three. Starving to death during the act of coitus seems particularly brutal, but at least he died trying to improve the community.
He’s not the last villager I’ll turn into a corpse Stacklands, a game from the incredibly prolific Sokpop Collective. Stacklands is a village-building game played entirely by stacking cards on your desktop. You start with a single five-card booster, and opening it gives you a villager, a berry bush, a rock, a log, and a coin.
Drag the villager’s card onto the berry bush and it will generate berry cards for your villager to eat. Drag the villager onto the rock or log and it will spawn a Stone, Flint, or Staff. Combine cards (like flint and stick, which will make a campfire) or sell your spare cards for coins, which can be spent on more boosters. Eventually, buying a new pack will give you a second villager who will double your manpower but also give you an extra mouth to feed, and there is a countdown timer when it comes to food. Every few minutes, night falls and each of your villagers will need to eat. If you don’t have enough for everyone, you’ll end up with a new corpse card.
(I, at one point, had two corpse cards. I stacked them and created a graveyard. Then I assigned a living villager to the graveyard…and he quickly dug up the two corpses. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. )
It’s mostly a very relaxing and casual little card game where you drag and drop cards onto other cards (putting a mushroom or an apple on a floor card will produce more mushrooms or an apple tree, for example). Try to maintain a steady food supply to meet your villagers’ needs, sell your excess cards for new boosters, and occasionally discover new resources.
But sometimes it gets absolutely frantic, like when a mysterious portal card suddenly appeared on my desk and, a minute later, unleashed a small army of goblins on my village. To defend yourself in Stacklands, all you have to do is drag your villagers onto enemy maps and watch them fight, with the fight usually going to whoever has the most health points. There is a way to train your villagers to become members of the militia, giving them increased HP. Once a slime appeared and started slithering around my desk, and after killing it, like a dungeon crawler, it split into several smaller slimes.
Even minor disturbances, like when a bunny card starts jumping across my screen leaving poo cards all over the place and jostling my neat stacks of cards, can add a bit of tension to the laid-back, mellow vibes.
As you progress, new, more expensive boosters introduce idea cards to your village, giving you recipes to build structures, like a house where two villagers can create a baby (unless one does not starve before conception) and the baby can grow into an adult villager. In one game, I built an iron mine, stuck a villager in it, and produced a steady supply of ore for crafting or selling. Building a garden will lead to better food production, a market will let you sell cards for more coins, and there are all sorts of other such structures you’ll find in traditional village building games. There are even exploration maps, and dropping a villager on one will take them to a remote meadow or old village to snoop around, periodically yielding a resource map, treasure chest, or perhaps even a monster.
In my most successful run so far, which lasted 22 days, things were going great for me. I had three villagers and a market that doubled my income, and my village was full of apples, mushrooms, and cooked meat. Then a giant rat came out of the booster I bought and killed two of my villagers (it has twice the health of one of my citizens). As I was using my last villager to explore a catacombs map, a werewolf jumped up. I tried to swipe my cow card to help me fight it, but the cow attacked me instead of the wolf.
My last villager, killed by a huge wolf and his own cow. A very sad ending.
I’m pretty obsessed with Stacklands right now – it’s only five on Steam and I love the relaxing experience, the busy work of growing food and keeping my maps tidy, and the little discoveries I make with each game. But I also dig the times when everything goes wrong and my villagers perish horribly. Apparently there’s a boss fight somewhere in there too. We’ll see if I can survive the monsters, starvation, and angry cattle long enough to find it.