Steps & Stumbles from Ice Peddler Games requires players to have crafty skills in mathematical patterns as well as a raptor’s studious eye and reflexes. On the one hand, Steps & Stumbles is a deduction game as players seek to use the numbered cards to complete a “step” of instructions. On the other, a social angle comes in as players can toss “stumbles” at one another to slow them down on the way to victory.
Steps & Stumbles starts with each player receiving ten numbered cards, seven Steps with conditions to meet such as “Must play three of a kind of orange cards,” “Must play a 1, 3, 5, 7,” and “Must play a pair and a run of three,” and two Stumble cards that give attacks like “No even cards can be played for the next two rounds” or “Chosen player can only draw from the discard pile.” With the cards set up, players reveal their first Steps and race to complete all seven to win the game.
In play, Steps & Stumbles is reminiscent of classic card games like Gin Rummy as players work to build the requirements for their Steps. Players draw a card each turn and make plays by adding to different sets and runs building on the table. Players will have to keep an eye out not only for beneficial cards to their own Steps but also watch for chances to slow down their opponents with a quick Stumble. Whenever a player Goes Out by playing all the cards from his or her hand, the round ends, and every player still holding cards counts a score that would be against them in the case of a tie in the final round. Players should strategize to complete their Steps as quickly as possible but also to Go Out and end the round before other players complete their own.
In addition to the numbered cards in the main deck, there are also Wild and Skip cards mixed in, adding elements of chaos to crank up the game another notch. Other sets of rules allow for variations like shorter or longer games by changing the number of Steps to complete or having the players “get crazy” by increasing the Stumbles dealt and allowing them to be played en mass. Alternate rules for a Party edition gives players just one Step to meet while everyone is throwing Stumbles in every direction for maximum wildness.
Steps & Stumbles is a card game for two to six players. It is a moderately long game, lasting a half hour for short rounds with few people who move quickly or longer for more players, especially those who take their time to ponder out the most effective play. Its basis in pattern-building through numbers makes it a great educational game, potentially a must for teachers or families with students who are working on their times-tables and up.
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