Monday 11 May 2015

Desktop Balance Chairs

Who says simple is worse?

This is the game that inspired me to continue reviewing board games - it's a breath of fresh air in my collection.

This game reminded me of why I ventured into this hobby in the first place - the pleasant surprise of experiencing a fun game is a great feeling. 
Despite its minimalistic look and components, Desktop Balance Chairs is an incredibly effective dexterity game. All credit goes to my mum for finding this gem of a game.

Trivia: There is a whole line of "Office" or "Desktop" games out there, but I don't think I'll be reviewing all of them. Just know that they all look quite interesting, and they target different crowds :). This one certainly looks one of the most interesting and novel though.

Name: Desktop Balance Chairs (Unknown year - but this looks relatively recent)

Designer: Fizz Creations UK

Publisher: Fizz Creations UK ("Clock-Watcher's Office Games" ???)

The website of Fizz Creations UK notes that the company was "born out of the need to be different". Certainly a promising slogan for the distributor of novelty and creative gifts.

Players: 2+ (But not too many, so probably a maximum of 4. You can go beyond this if people don't mind minimal participation)

Idea: Why not buy two+ packs so you can play with more people? Use custom rules? However this may require some skilled veterans - I can't imagine 36 stacked chairs holding up. Unless you allow for 2 chairs at the base....

Age: Not less than 3 years old (choking hazard!)

Time to play: 10 minutes+

Price Range (AUD): $15.95 to $20 (once shipping is included)

Availability: Widely available online.

  • Party
  • Dexterity
  • Stacking

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

7.0+* out of 10. (Good, perhaps excellent if it's your kind of thing - See my Rating Scale)

Desktop Balance Chairs proves that simple is more than effective.

Players stack 17 chairs on top of ONE LONE CHAIR (Hence 18 chairs are provided in this game)

Obviously this creates a tower of absolute chaos as chair legs dangle and stack mischievously atop another, precariously inviting the next player to fear for their lives when it is their turn to place a chair.

The interesting thing about this game is that the chairs, at least on face value, are designed differently. There are, at least on my counting, 7 different types of chairs included in my pack. For example, one chair will have vertical holes; the other horizontal arches. Another will have 4 square holes where a person sits; another has 2 big holes on the seat. Therefore this creates a considerable variety of stacking positions, angles and opportunities.

Of course, some of the chairs are duplicates, but there is sufficient variety to make things interesting.

I feel that this is a great novel gift. However, of course, as with all things - and perhaps especially this - you may find it a little tedious and repetitive after a while if you keep playing it. That, to me, is the only downside of this game.

There is not much strategy - you just want to stack up chairs as dangerously and ridiculously as possible so as to set up your opponents for failure :)

* I, again, am too hasty with awarding high scores to games. I had a brief glance at all the ratings I've done for games and realised that my initial score of 7.7 was far too generous. While this is a good and novel game, it isn't sufficiently ingenious enough for it to warrant a "Great" score - it's far too simple for that. It is also a bit hard to stack the second chair in some scenarios, depending on what chair you use. Nonetheless this is a good game and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the dexterity genre of games.

The Good:
  • Simple
  • Novel
  • Fun - the chairs come in all shapes and sizes and stack up quite differently
  • If playing with more than 2, there is no 'sole winner'; rather there are 'winners' and one loser (whoever causes the chair pile to collapse)
  • Portable if put in a small box - can be taken to places to amuse people.
  • Supposedly for the office.
  • Only 1 loser, and the rest are "winners" - the loser is the one who collapses the whole thing.
The Bad:
  • May get repetitive
  • Can't play too many players given that only 18 chairs are provided - 2 to 3 is probably ideal. (Unless each player is willing to have minimal participation)
  • Plain/bulky packaging.
  • Arguably expensive for what you get - roughly $17 for 18 chairs?!
  • Perhaps too simplistic?
  • Bit hard to stack the second chair depending on the chairs used.
  • Spirit of game can be broken when you place chairs upside down!!
What makes this game fun? 
Stacking chairs up in a treacherous way so as to set up your opponents for failure is an excellent pursuit.

- This concludes the basic overview of the game.
If you are interested in reading about the components & rules to the game, please read on -

Rules & Components (Photos courtesy of my mum, Joanne)

All the components of the game
7 different types of chairs on my count?

The rules are simple.

The "rulebook" is exhibited on a flat cardboard and says the following:

Aim of the game

For one or more players.

Start the game with one chair on the table.

Each player takes it in turns to place a chair on top of the preceding chairs in any way they can.

Make it more difficult for the next player by placing your chair as precariously as possible.

The loser is the person who makes the pile of chairs collapse.

Eventually stacking the chairs may result in something like this.

It is my experience that the second chair is arguably hardest to place - the rest can be sort of balanced or just dangerously "chucked" onto the pile :)


Andre Lim

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