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Family Game Review: Chairs

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Chairs from Fundex Games reverses the finely tuned sense of “do not knock things over as you take them apart” that has been ingrained into our systems from many years playing Jenga, Pick-Up-Stix, and that one game with the white plastic ice and little hammers that lost its box to deterioration in the game cabinet years ago. Again combating gravity, Chairs continues the fear of crashes from others, but gives it the twist of building rather than carefully taking apart.

There are plenty of stacking games out there, but the versatility of the pieces sets Chairs apart. The tin comes with three sets of chairs in different colors, each set yielding eight different designs. A couple of chairs are typical square sets, a couple of others are jagged and reminiscent of ‘60s minimalism, and then there are several with rounded tops. A few have top pegs long enough to use as additional edges, and one prize antique-looking chair even has hooked legs, valuable for slipping into another chair. That all may seem very academic, but it becomes key as each chair carries strengths and weaknesses that can very well determine the game.

Play in Chairs goes very simply: youngest player chooses a chair and sets it on the table. Next player stacks a chair on top, then the next, and on and on until something slips and chairs come crashing down. Game length is flexible with even the rules saying players should determine how many rounds to go. “A normal game would include 5 rounds,” it reads, but play could be more or less depending on pleasure of the players. A real challenge would be to go until every last chair is stacked.

Rather than a fall ending the game, tumbling chairs simply means the erring player’s turn is over. Every fallen chair gives the player a point, and the rules follow golf scoring with the lowest score winning at the end of the game.

The rules also include an alternate play of getting rid of chairs. There are twenty-four chairs in the tin, which is evenly divisible by 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, or 12 players, making for a wide variety of potential players. When a player makes the stack fall, he or she takes the fallen chairs, and play continues until one player successfully places the final chair from his or her stack and wins.

Chairs seems simplistic, but it is really a very clever family or party game. The box lists ages 6+ (the rules and website 5+), though it’s suitable for almost anyone with a steady hand. The wide variety on the number of players can be extended even down to one for those of us who have never outgrown playing with blocks and are a little more than curious to see whether we could stack all twenty-four.

Overall, Chairs is a great game with plenty of replay value and quick enough to hold just about anyone’s attention. The only drawback I could find was the plastic chairs not fitting back into the tin when tossed in randomly, but then stacking them is what the game’s all about, isn’t it?

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.