At its heart, Stitches is a Monster building/Monster battling game, and that is just fine with me. Luckily if you’ve ever played Rock Paper Scissors you will be able to learn this game easily.
The Story: Basically you and your fellow Monsters have been left out in the woods and must work together to destroy an Abomination that lurks in the woods with you. But first you must become stronger and learn to communicate, which you can accomplish by scavenging for new parts and fighting each other.
The Gameplay: Each player will start the game as a basic monster with nothing but Human parts. Like this:
Each part has a symbol on it – Either a fist (Rock), an open hand (Paper), or a scissor hand (Scissors). These symbols are added together when attacking another player or the Abomination. This basic monster would have a power of 2 Rock, 1 Paper, and 1 Scissors. If you were trying to attack another Basic monster with the exact same build, you would declare which part you were attacking and compare symbols. For instance, if you were attacking the Legs, you would need to be able to defeat 1 Rock. Comparing the total symbols of your entire Monster to the total of symbols on the Legs, you would defeat it since your 1 paper would defeat the Legs’ 1 Rock. You would then acquire the Legs and add it to your Monster, replacing and discarding your current Legs.
Fighting other Monsters in this manner is one of the ways you acquire new body parts. The other way is by Scavenging for them in the Parts Market. Every turn you will have the opportunity to either buy Parts in the Market or Attack. Either way if you acquire anew Part you will add the it to your Monster and discard the old part.
At the beginning of each round, during the Declaration phase, everyone will have to choose between Attacking and Scavenging. Everyone makes this choice secretly and simultaneously, and then everyone reveals at the same time.
All players that choose Scavenge split the available Stitches in the “pot” and may, on their turn, buy as many parts from the Market as they can afford. Monster Parts have a Stitches symbol on them representing the price to purchase that part. (Each player starts the game with 2 stitches).
All players that choose Attack will, on their turn, attack either another player or the Abomination. If they are successful in their attack they will steal the body part they attacked and place it in their own monster, replacing the previous body part with the new one and discarding the old body part.
If you attack another player, you also learn some language. Each player, both the target and the attacker draw a word card. When you go to attack the Abomination, any player that shares any of the same words as you do must attack the Abomination with you.
The Abomination starts as nothing but a head and a torso face down and one part from the Monster Parts deck attached to one of the free sides (the Abomination doesn’t care which parts go where).
On your turn, during the Player action phase, you either Attack or Scavenge depending on the choice you made in the Declaration phase. If you chose to Attack, you can now either attack the Abomination or one of the other players (to acquire one of their parts or half their stitches). If you chose to scavenge, you purchase monster parts from the Market.
After everyone has acted, it is the Abomination’s turn. Draw one of the cards from the Abomination deck and follow the instructions.
So…What do we think?
I first saw Stitches at GenCon and was immediately drawn to it. The artwork is humorous and striking and I never get tired of the Monsters. In my opinion, getting Kyle Ferrin to do the art for this game was a real coup. The crew at Norwester gave us a preview copy to try and we are glad they trusted us with their Monsters.
This game is a very light, casual game with enough strategic decisions thrown in to make it challenging. Every time I have played it, I have enjoyed the Monster crafting the most, but the battles are simple fun as well. The Rock Paper Scissors method of battle is not one I’d seen implemented in a game before, but it works great here, giving the game the exact right feel.
I have now played two incarnations of this game and I’m happy to say that the only two problems I had in the original rules have been clarified and changes made to make the game work much better (at least in my opinion).
When playing originally, we found no real reason to attack each other (other than because we could screw another player over). We each simply scavenged every time until one of us had enough power to take out the Abomination on our own. The implementation of the Abomination cards has fixed this problem, since the Abomination is no longer simply waiting around to be killed. We still enjoy sabotaging other players, but have to limit this if we don’t want the game to take way too long.
The second problem was with the Declaration phase. Some of our group did not want to grunt and raise their hands like Monsters. Now they don’t have to since the Declaration cards are included.
Stitches does not try to be a deep strategy game and also does not take itself too seriously (see Grunting). It is a casual game designed to make you look and feel silly while providing a chance for you to work together to take on a hideous Abomination. I never felt extremely challenged while playing (in fact I don’t think there is a way to lose), but sometimes you need a simple easy game and Stitches fits that mold perfectly. It’s certainly not for everyone, but then no game is. But I think that with the right group you will have a hilarious good time.
What started out as a game I was interested to try is now a reality that everyone will have a chance to play, and it’s already almost funded so go check it out before we send the Abomination after you.
Stitches is on Kickstarter now: