By Jake Bianchi
Santorini is an old, ever-changing game. What initially started as a hotel-building game over 30 years ago has evolved into a brilliant strategy game for 2-4 players that holds enough depth to last a lifetime while taking mere minutes to learn. The game was funded via Kickstarter and is available soon.
Roxley Game Labs, the developers of this new edition of Santorini, utilized a creative, colorful, and whimsical storybook-like telling of the game’s setting. In it, Zeus instructs all the other Greek Gods to leave Mount Olympus and seek their own amusement. Ares finds the small city of Santorini being built on top of a tall, slender island. As he begins to destroy it, Aphrodite intercedes and presents a fun little challenge: whomever can assist the citizens of Santorini to build their city the best will win! The two of them have so much fun doing this that the other Gods notice and decide to join in, taking turns playing the game of Santorini.
You’ll notice that the building pieces are mostly white and blue, giving a minimalist aesthetic for the city that compliments the simplistic tropical board. The entire thing creates a pleasant backdrop for the gameplay, which all takes place on top of the island.
The rules of the game are simple, and the objective is even simpler: on your turn, you must select one of your two workers to move and then build a segment of a tower – the object of the game is to stand on top of a third-level tower. Obviously that sounds far easier than it is, but getting to the top is so much fun. One of the best tactics I’ve found is to build medium-sized towers all around a corner of the board and then build a level-three tower behind them; that way, when you go to jump on top of it, the other players won’t be able to get around your wall in time to stop you. Now that’s just the core gameplay – the real fun begins when you add Gods to the mix.
The game comes with 30 God characters for players to play as. Each God comes with its own special ability, win condition, or other benefits. For example, if you play as Pan, you’ll be able to win by jumping down two levels as well as the standard way of hopping up to a level three tower. Medusa, on the other hand, allows you to turn your opponent’s workers into stone! Each power is so unique and interesting that it’s actually rather shocking to find out that they’re all very balanced! Personally, I haven’t been able to find a single unfair matchup. The addition of these God powers is what makes the game truly incredible, as it allows for seemingly endless combinations and strategies. For example, you could be playing as Hermes and run all around the board every turn while your opponent plays as Atlas, who can block off areas from you. Alternatively, You could play with more advanced Gods and have crazy matchups like Bia versus Zeus, where Bia is trying to kill Zeus, but Zeus keeps himself away from her with his ability to build blocks beneath himself.
This game has become one of my all-time favorites very quickly and continues to surprise me with how much fun it can be. Showing this game to friends and seeing how much they enjoy it nearly as rewarding as playing it myself, and within the span of a few minutes, they’re already a challenge to beat. This game emphasizes fun while being outstandingly accessible and is a must-have for every board gamer.