Stacks of Goblins aimed at all ages of tabletop RPG players:
Stacks of Goblins is a tabletop RPG system that also comes with a premise and tables full of setting elements and hooks, so we’ll look at both the system and adventures. For the system, I can definitely see kids being able to grasp most concepts pretty easily as long as they can recognize and count to 12. There’s some addition or subtraction involved when totaling up the group’s rolls, but since it is done as a group, I could see grown ups or older kids being able to easily help out young ones.
For the adventure part of the game, there’s no combat, so everything revolves around role-playing… and a lot of mischief. You’ll be working together (or against each other) to try to meet both a common goal (getting an item for the goblin king) and your individual goals (getting your character’s special item) all while not getting caught by “the people”. The premise is both cute and pretty all-ages friendly, so Stacks of Goblins is easily a fun tabletop RPG for both kids and adults.
Stacks of Goblins’ hilarious and engaging premise:
Stacks of Goblins’ story revolves around your group of goblins donning a trench coat so they can sneak up to the people’s place to obtain an item for the goblin king! While doing this, each goblin also has something that they are looking for as well. This seems simple enough, but people will get suspicious as your group interacts more, flubs rolls, and has to carry around more and more loot without drawing too much attention.
As for the location, the game comes with a handful of awesome (and hilarious) tables to help set the scene and give a different story each time you play. One game, you could be trying to find a golden goose somewhere in a big city as they host a tech faire but the next time, you’ll be searching for an avocado burger in the middle of a royal palace as they host a role playing convention! You can also make up your own settings, but the ones provided are definitely enough to kick off some fun shenanigans and laughs!
Playing your cheeky goblin character:
In Stacks of Goblins, you play a goblin in a group of other goblins all stacked on top of each other in a trench coat! There’s no character sheet to track, but your goblin does have a personal goal (an item they are trying to find) AND some personality. Like with the locations, there is a roll table to help with coming up with some personality traits if you need help (the dice goblin personality is my favorite) or you can make up your own. The important thing is that you are playing an awesome and cheeky goblin.
Stacks of Goblins’ unique and fun mechanics:
Rolling for your position and the goblin shuffle:
Since Stacks of Goblins has you playing as a literal stack of goblins, someone is going to be at the top, the bottom, and the middle, and each position has a special roll and special dice to match!
The top goblin does the talking and rolls a d12, the middle goblins help (or hinder) the top goblin and roll a d10, and the bottom goblin determines where everyone actually goes and rolls a d8. When you roll, you can choose to add or subtract your roll from the group’s total, meaning you can help OR hinder if the top goblin isn’t doing what you want.
Although we always added our rolls when we played (my kid was being very collaborative), I think it is actually really fun to allow subtracting the rolls. Especially in games with older kids or adults, it can generate some fun rivalry or give some incentive to get the group on the same page depending on how goofy everyone wants to get with the game play.
You also get to do the goblin shuffle. The top goblin won’t always be the top – if there’s a flubbed roll (i.e. if the middle goblins decide to revolt and subtract their rolls from the group) or if someone takes a token from the pool of obliviousness (more on this next), you get to do the goblin shuffle and rearrange the stack to put another goblin in charge (or be the feet). This gives everyone a possible chance to swap their rolls up and get a try at being the… head goblin.
The pool of obliviousness:
To gauge the length of the game and give some consequence to failed actions, there is a pool of 20 tokens that represent the obliviousness of the “human peoples” in the location you’re venturing out into. When you have a poor roll, force a goblin shuffle, have a goblin success, or get what you want, it naturally is going to draw attention to the wobbly column of goblins meandering about, and you take a token from the pool. Once the pool of tokens matches the number of goblins… it’s time to escape with the loot you’ve got before you get caught!
I thought this was a very fun tabletop RPG mechanic, especially for games with kids. There’s physical tokens being used (which could be coins, blocks, dice, or anything else) that make the countdown visible and real for kids who are still working on their numbers. It also gives some general tension to the whole session and gives soft consequences to any actions taken. The whole group is affected by the token pool, so it also encourages teamwork (at least to some extent) by way of the game mechanics instead of kids having to be told to work together – they’ll figure it out naturally by playing the game.
Making your great escape!
Like I said before… once the pool of obliviousness starts to run out, it’s time to bail! With limited dice at your disposal, you’ll need to weave your stack of goblins between all the people you’ve interacted with on your adventure so far and make it out to your escape route (which again…. There is an awesome roll table for escape options).
I like how the escape plan includes having to dash through all of the individuals you’ve encountered so far as the disguise starts to slip and your tower of goblins is trying to haul what is probably a comical amount of loot out to their hot air balloon (or something similar) – even the ending is set up to be fun! The escape was actually one of my favorite scenes playing Stacks of Goblins with my kid – he actually got really excited, grabbed some of the toys we were using to represent our loot and acted out the chase!
What did my kid think of Stacks of Goblins?
My kid loved the idea of the goblins stack (he is actually right now trying to stack his stuffed animals up in a shirt as I’m typing this because he wants to play again), and he grasped the mechanics right away. He didn’t need any help with rolling or counting (it’s nice that each player gets one die)… and our rolls on the tables to set up the adventure were great! We needed to find a d20 for the goblin king and get a bunch of cheese and a fancy hat for our goblins… all in the middle of an investigation by some meddling kids! My kid and I had fun ducking our short two goblin stack around the mystery crew to collect our loot and escaped by running away while laughing wildly into the wind!
My overall thoughts on Stacks of Goblins as a tabletop RPG for kids:
Stacks of Goblins was a great game for both my kid and I – I think we equally had fun, and it was nice that we got to play together (there’s no game leader, so everyone is a player together). The mechanics are set up to be easily understandable, but they are unique from other games we’ve played and offered a new challenge for us to figure out and work with. The artwork, roll tables, and general attitude of the game are all fun and engaging, emphasizing that this is truly a game of shenanigans for everyone to just have some good time with. Stacks of Goblins is a wonderful all ages game, perfect for kids and adults alike, and I hope you have fun playing it too!
Where to find a copy of Stacks of Goblins:
Stacks of Goblins can be found here on itch.io!
This game was a lot of fun, and I hope you get the chance to check it out! If you do, please let me know in the comments below what your thoughts are!
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