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Staccabees is the result of many Chanukahs of experimentation--our quest for the perfect dreidel variation.  We even did some research on game theory, studied the work of a prolific game inventor, and looked at variations on the classics. Here are some thoughts on what makes a good family game.

Foreign or Familiar?
We wanted anyone who had played dreidel before to immediately find something familiar and comforting in Staccabees.  So, we made sure that each turn included a spin of the dreidel and that the traditional meanings ("gimel" = all; "hey" = half; "nun" = none; "shin" = minus one) were retained.  But we also wanted the game to seem fresh and new.
Winning or Not Losing?
In traditional dreidel, the winner is the player who didn't lose. One by one, all of the other players are eliminated as they run out of gelt or nuts or whatever.  This is not the way to have a happy family gathering.  In Staccabees, everyone remains in the game until someone wins.  This change alone makes Staccabees much more fun than traditional dreidel.
Golf, Chess, or War?
Some people prefer games where there is a lot of physical skill, like golf.  Others prefer a lot of strategy, like chess.  Still others prefer games that are totally without skill, like the children's game of "war" with a deck of cards.  Staccabees is a wonderful compromise of all three!  For the mindless player, there is no need to pay attention to what other players are doing: you just spin the dreidel and do what it says, without too much thought for how you place your cubes.  But for the strategist, there is ample opportunity to cogitate and ruminate.  And if you are really eager to develop your physical skill, why not play Staccabees solo, and send us a photo of your most masterful STACC.
Slow and Steady or Cinderella Story?
A good game offers players the feeling that they can make steady progress toward victory, but also offers the chance for apparently miraculous comebacks.  In Staccabees, you know you are closing in on victory when your pile of cubes is getting small.  But no player can ever be more than 3 "gimels" from a startling come-from-behind win!
Quality or Quantity?
Your Staccabees dreidel and game cubes are handcrafted in the USA from sustainably harvested hardwoods.  These simple and elegant playing pieces are designed to provide years of fun and excitement.
The End or the Beginning?
Like all great games, Staccabees is fun the first time, right out of the bag.  But it also invites the dreidel enthusiast to continue tinkering and inventing, for endless new challenges.  Check out some of our favorite rules variations, and be sure to share your ideas with us!
One characteristic of a great game is that it is easy to make up your own rules.  Experiment with your Staccabees equipment and invent your own variations, then share them with us in the comment area below.  Here are eight of our favorite variations--one for each night of Chanukah!

Note:
Staccabees Classic and Deluxe sets produced in 2009 came with with an extra half inch "minicube" which is used in a number of game variations.   If you don't have a minicube - a dime works too.

  1. "Dreidel on Top"  In this variation, play continues as usual after a player places his last cube.  When a player begins his turn with no cubes, he does not spin the dreidel.  Instead, he must place the dreidel itself on top of the STAC to win the game.  This gives the other players one final chance to make the STAC as wobbly as possible to prevent the player who has no cubes from winning.
  2. "Shin and Bear It"  In this variation, when a player spins a "shin", the player must take one cube, of the player's choosing, from each of his opponents.  The player does not take a cube from the top of the STAC.
  3. Minicube "Base of Bane"  For a special challenge, place the minicube in the center of the table as a permanent base for the stack.  No player takes possession of the minicube: it is always at the base of the stack.
  4. Minicube "Gimel-Go-Round".  The youngest player starts with possession of the minicube.  When a player who does not possess the minicube spins a gimel, he takes the usual action, but he also takes possession of the minicube.  If a player who possesses the minicube spins a gimel, that player takes the usual action, but then, going clockwise, each player takes a turn as if he had spun a gimel.  Play resumes with the player who possesses the minicube taking another turn after all the other players have taken their special "gimel" turns.
  5. Minicube "Momentum Marathon"  The youngest player starts with possession of the minicube.  When a player has possession of the minicube, the player does not spin the dreidel to determine what action to take.  Rather, the player spins the dreidel and may place as many cubes as possible while the dreidel is spinning.  The minicube is then passed to the right (counter-clockwise), and play resumes with the next player on the left spinning the dreidel as usual.  When playing this variation, young children should be permitted to choose a "designated spinner" when they possess the minicube.
  6. Minicube "Gimel-Be-Gone" The youngest player starts with possession of the minicube minicube.  After spinning, the player who possesses the minicube may "transfer" the minicube to any other player, who must then take the action required by the spin.  For example, if a player spins "gimel" when the STAC is wobbly, he can require any other player to take a turn as if that player had spun a gimel.
  7. Minicube "Top Option"  The youngest player starts with possession of the minicube.  After spinning, the player who possesses the minicube may place it on the STAC instead of doing the action indicated by the spin.  Subsequent additions to the STAC are placed on top of the minicube.  The next player to topple the STAC takes possession of the minicube.  If a player has only the minicube, the player does not spin, but must place the minicube on the STAC on his next turn in order to win.
  8. Gelt "Topple Temptation"  Each player starts the game with an agreed upon amount of chocolate gelt (not provided in your Staccabees game bag).  On any turn, prior to spinning, a player may decide to "spend" a piece of gelt to avoid spinning.  The player must choose a single cube to place on the STAC.  The spent gelt is gathered in a pile at the base of the STAC.  A player who knocks over the STAC takes possession of the gelt as well as the cubes in the STAC.  Confident players are encouraged to eat the gelt during the game!

A few extra variations:

Stacking Contest
Given the 36 cubes in the classic set, how high can you go?  Don't forget to email us a picture.

Architectural Wonders of the World
Use your cubes to create replicas of well known edifices (the Washington Monument, the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, etc) - and have the other players guess the building.  This version is a good "after game" - or can be played while waiting your turn during a game of standard Staccabees.  Don't forget to email us a picture.
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