I could have easily titled this article “Don’t Believe the (Negative) Hype”. Our latest Thrift Treasure is an out-of-print 2-4 player game from 1977. We found this copy at our local Salvation Army Thrift Store and it set us back a whole 95 cents. All the pieces appeared to be there, but it was missing the instructions. I assumed finding them online would be easy, but I was wrong.

Not only could I not find an official set of rules, I found numerous citations claiming this was one of the worst games ever made. Over on BoardGameGeek it was included in users’ lists such as “Worst Game You Own”, “Left Behind at the Thrift Store”, “Worst Thrift Store Purchases” and “Games with Badly Written Rulebooks”. It appeared I might have overspent on this one!

Is this the worst game ever issued? Many seem to think so, but without all the rules we decided to make our own. - SahmReviews.comBut we were determined to get at least one round out of it. I mean, how bad could it really be? The game included pawns for four players, two custom dice and a plastic playing board with sliding tabs that changed the configuration of the board. We elected to piece together what we could find online and come up with a set of rules that made the game reasonably short (under 30 minutes for 4 players), fair and not just luck-based. The object of the game is to get your four pawns to the other side of the board, much like Chinese Checkers. So obviously while it is rated for 2-4 players, a 3-player game would not be equally matched.

Is this the worst game ever issued? Many seem to think so, but without all the rules we decided to make our own. - SahmReviews.comFor those of you interested, these are the rules we created:

1. Each player takes turns rolling the two included dice. On the dice are pips and stars. Pips allow you to move your pawn an equal number of spaces. Stars allow you to move a slider one space. Roll stars on both dice and you skip your turn. Roll a number and two stars on one die, you move your pawn and slide TWO sections one space (or one section two spaces).

2. You can only move your pawns on the black path. If the path is moved out from underneath you, you become stranded. You cannot move that pawn until he has a black square underneath him.

3. You can choose which order you perform your acts in. You may decide to move the slider first before moving, or move first and then change the board.

4. You may elect to not move a pawn and pass on that die. If you roll two numbered dice (eg. 2 and 4), you must move in those increments. You cannot move one space then five. You must be able to complete the entire move – if your path is only 4 spots long and you roll a 5, you cannot move. You also cannot land on another pawn, but you can jump over them.

5. When you roll a star (or two stars on one die), you MUST change the board. You may not pass on those rolls.

6. You may travel through another player’s base, counting it as one spot.

7. You must roll the exact number needed to enter a base. First to get all of their pawns in the base opposite them wins.

Is this the worst game ever issued? Many seem to think so, but without all the rules we decided to make our own. - SahmReviews.comRegardless of what we read online, we have definitely found and played worse games. With four players it was really not bad, and the movement of the board made for some interesting decisions (do you move to help yourself or to block someone else).

Is this the worst game ever issued? Many seem to think so, but without all the rules we decided to make our own. - SahmReviews.comFor the price one really cannot complain. If we had paid full retail (even back in 1977) then we probably would have been disappointed. But at a buck, Shifti will be an easy-to-teach game we can break out when the kids have friends over. While you can find it on eBay, you are probably better served by looking for it in your own thrift stores or at yard sales. It sounds like the serious board game collectors aren’t bothering with it, so you should have no trouble finding a copy!

16 thoughts on “Thrift Treasure: Shifti

  1. That’s exactly what I would have done! You can find rules for most games online but not ones that old, especially if the company isn’t still making games. I’m glad you were able to figure out way to play, I would have done the same thing.

  2. .95-for that price you can’t really go wrong. I would be in big trouble cause I would not be able to make up rules like you did! But at that price even if you only play it once or maybe twice you got your moneys worth.

  3. I don’t think you can beat the price. Even if you only play it once or twice, it’ll pay for itself in fun. I’m curious to know what else made it on to the list of Worst Games Ever.

  4. It is always fun to find old stuff at thrift shops, especially games, it’s fun seeing how they look compared to now, it’s a fun blast from the past thing, but as far as playing it can be another story.

  5. We love reading about the games you get from your Thrift Treasure finds! I am going to have to go try to find some over where I am at. That was .95 cents well played. Yes pun intended. LOL

  6. I have the Shifti slick sliding board but not the pieces and not the dice. Can you tell me what the pips and stars on the two dies look like, so I can made up a pair, maybe with stickers for stars? The 4 player pieces I can scrounge up from some other game. My little 5 year old grandson is really getting into games.

    1. Stan – They are D6 dice and are different from each other. The first one has the following:

      Star, Star, Star, 1, 2, 3 (the stars are opposite the numbers)

      On the 2nd one it is:

      Star, Star, Double Star, 4, 5, 6 with the double star being opposite of the 5

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