Shifting Stones Rules

a game of tiles & tactics

1-5 Players 

Ages 8+


72 Pattern cards

9 Stone tiles

5 Reference cards



A mysterious grid of 9 ancient stones lies before you. Rearrange these intricately cut stones to match your Pattern cards and score points. The challenge is that cards may either be used to manipulate the stones or score points (but never both). Score the most points, and win the game!


1. Look at the 9 Stone tiles and note that they are divided into four distinct, double-sided combinations: Sun/Moon (x1), Fish/Bird (x2), Horse/Boat (x3), Seed/Tree (x3). Refer to the “Tile Guide” side of the Reference cards for a reminder. 

2. Shuffle the tiles and randomly place them in a 3x3 grid in the middle of the playing area. Make sure they are all oriented in the same direction.

3. Shuffle the deck of Pattern cards and deal each player a hand of 4 cards, face down. (Look at your cards but keep them secret from opponents.)

4. Stack the rest of the deck above the tile grid, leaving space for a discard pile.

5. Give each player a Reference card. Make sure to include the dark-background Reference card among them.

ImportaNt:  The orientation of the tile grid should be the same for all players, even if viewing it from different angles. Use the placement of the Pattern card deck to indicate the “top” of the grid.


Whoever most recently read a history book takes the dark-background Reference card and goes first. Play proceeds to the left.

On your turn you may take as many actions as you’d like, and in any order, as long as you have cards to either discard or score.


Shift Stones

Discard a Pattern card from your hand face up to the discard pile, then choose any two adjacent Stone tiles and swap their positions. No diagonal shifting.

Flip Stones

Discard a Pattern card from your hand face up to the discard pile, then choose a Stone tile and turn it over to its opposite side.

tip: Use the Shift and Flip actions to discard cards you no longer want, even if they don’t help you score.

Score a Card

Reveal a Pattern card from your hand that matches the current layout of the Stone tiles. Place that card face up in front of you, alongside any other cards you’ve scored. (See “Scoring Cards” for more.)

End Your Turn

You may end your turn at any time. When you do, replenish your hand back to 4 cards from the face down deck. (Scored cards do not count as part of  your hand.)

Note: If the deck ever runs out, shuffle the discard pile to form a new deck. 

Skip Your Turn

Instead of taking any of the other actions, you may skip your turn and draw 2 cards from the deck, bringing your hand up to 6 cards. You may not skip your turn twice in a row.


Each Pattern card  features a point value  and unique tile pattern.

In order to score a Pattern card, both the tile symbols and their orientation must match the Stone tile grid. After scoring a Pattern card, those points are yours for the rest of the game (even as the grid continues to change). You may only score a Pattern card on your turn. Additionally, you may only score a Pattern card once, even if the pattern shows up multiple times on the grid.



1 point

 red purple



 red purple blue
white yellow green
white red purple


Both the symbols and  their orientation match between the card and grid. This card scores 1 point (even though there are 2 matches).



Card :

1 point

orange red 



 red purple blue
orange yellow blue
green white purple

The symbols on the card and grid match, but their orientations do not.


Some cards include empty tile spaces (indicated by grey squares). These spaces must contain a tile, but it may be of any type.



2 points

 blank purple red


 yellow purple red
green white white
purple red blue

This Pattern card can be scored using the top row, but not the bottom row.




1 point

blank  blank blank
blank orange blank
blank blank blank




yellow purple red
white orange white
purple white boat


 This Pattern card can only be scored when the orange tile is in the center of the grid.



Once any player has scored a specific  number of Pattern cards (or more), this triggers the end  of the game. If applicable, finish the round so that all players have had an equal number of turns (play until the start of the first player’s turn). Note: You may score more cards than the end-game trigger number.

End-Game Trigger

 Players Cards
2 10
3 9
4 8
5 7


Once all players finish their final turns, tally the points on your scored cards. Whoever collected the most “1” cards receives a 3-point bonus. (In case of a tie, each tied player receives 3 points.) The player with the most total points is the winner. If 2 or more players tie for the most points, they share the victory.


Assemble a mini-deck of 16 Pattern cards, containing 8x 1-point cards, 4x 2-point cards, 3x 3-point cards, and 1x 5-point card. All other setup remains the same.

Standard gameplay rules apply with the following changes:

  • If you end your turn without scoring a card you gain a strike.
  • The game ends in a loss if you collect 4 strikes.
  • The game ends in a win if you can score all 16 cards before obtaining 4 strikes.

A Word from Gamewright

The world is filled with mysteries. When we first played J. Evan Raitt’s game, we were captivated by its playful theme of ancient pasts combined with gameplay that was easy to decipher. Hidden information about your opponents’ goals will keep you on your toes as the grid changes before your eyes and you try to solve the ultimate mystery of the game: is it a better strategy to discard cards or score points?

Game by: J. Evan Raitt | Illustrations by: Kwanchai Moriya


70 Bridge Street, Newton, MA 02458 617-924-6006

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