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Tellstones is a beautifully made game that’s too easy to put down

It’s great as a collectible, but not all that compelling as a game

A game of Tellstones laid out on the table. It’s played on a blue felt mat with large clay pucks. Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Tellstones: King’s Gambit, the second tabletop game from League of Legends and Valorant developer Riot Games, goes on sale today for $30. Polygon got an early copy of the game, and while the presentation and the quality of the game pieces is exceptional, the game itself is just alright. If you’re looking for a 10-minute long memory game with lots of bluffing, you could do a lot worse.

In Tellstones, players need to remember the order in which seven different stones, each with their own symbol, are placed face down on the table. It’s sort of like an advanced version of Three-card Monte, but without the sleight of hand. Tellstones does, however, have ties to League of Legends lore.

The tabletop game has two gimmicks. First, you never actually move the game pieces around with your own hands. Instead, you tell the other player to move the pieces for you. Second, the game hinges on a winner-takes-all bluffing mechanic. If you call the other player’s bluff and come out on top, you win — no matter where you were on the scoreboard to begin with.

A brushed silver box with a button sits on a wooden table.
Tellstones comes in a hinged metal box with a working push-button clasp. It’s about 4 inches on each side.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon
The metal box opened, revealing white pucks and a blue felt play mat inside.
Inside is a dense foam pack-in for all the playing pieces, along with a lavish felt playing surface. There’s also a weathered letter that places the game in the fiction of League of Legends.
Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

The gameplay is solid. The pieces are hefty and incredibly well-made. But, the experience is one-note and awfully short. I spent some time playing with my daughters, my wife, and a few family friends, and after the first few playthroughs just about everyone was ready to move on to something else.

Compared to the company’s first tabletop game, Tellstones is extremely barebones. Mechs vs. Minions had dozens upon dozens of painted miniatures, custom dice, and metal coins. It also had one of the single greatest plastic pack-in trays I’ve ever seen. Combine that with a narrative that spanned multiple gameplay sessions and it was a tremendous value.

The quality of Tellstones is top notch, which helps justify the simplistic game’s price. But you could easily get a similar gameplay experience by drawing seven different playing cards.

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