Santorini hit Kickstarter like a storm, raising over CA$ 700,000 and blasting through its stretch goals. It’s a game focused on strategy but comes packed with beautiful 3D components and amazing artwork that elevate what used to be a purely abstract game into the thematic masterpiece. A wonderful update to an excellent game. Here’s my Santorini Review.
Roxley’s subtext for Santorini has been “Learn it in 30 seconds. Play it for life.” This holds true for the very basic playing of the game. There are only 3 basic rules to the game:
- Move – Move one of your two builders to a neighboring space either orthogonally or diagonally. A builder can move up one level, or down any number of levels.
- Build – After moving you may build in any space next to the moved builder. There’s 3 levels to a building plus a domed cap.
- Win – If you can get either of your builders up to the 3rd level of a building, you win! A builder cannot move on top of a domed building.
Of course, there’s more to it than that if you want a bit more depth. There’s a stack of God cards that can be used to provide tons of variation to how builders are moved, buildings are built, and more. The youngest player chooses as many God cards as there are players, and then the players choose which God cards they want. The power granted from that card is used throughout the game.
Want a bit more than that? There’s also the Golden Fleece Expansion which adds more God cards, Hero cards with powers that can only be used once per game, and a Golden Fleece token that changes the way God cards are used.
When using the Golden Fleece, the token is placed on the board by the first player to place a builder. A single God card is chosen, then the player who placed their workers second takes the first turn. Whenever a builder is placed next to the Golden Fleece token that player can use the God power listed on the chosen card.
Santorini works best with two players, but there are rules for playing with 3-4.
Everything in Santorini’s box screams quality. The first thing you’ll be presented with upon opening the game is a softcover children’s story explaining how the game of Santorini came to be✝. The book is beautifully illustrated and excellently crafted.
After the rulebook and the bottom of the board. Underneath that are the bags of building pieces, the builders, and the rest of the board.
The board is amazing, with the play space elevated a few inches off the table. The builder miniatures are finely sculpted and cast in a sturdy plastic. The building pieces are lightweight, yet strong, and fit together in a way that’s incredibly satisfying. The cardstock is thick, yet the cards are easily shuffled. As for the artwork and design, it’s all top notch through and through.
Santorini has some of the best components I’ve been in a while.
One of the things that I really love about Santorini is how accessible it is. Not only is it a great strategy game, but it’s packaged in a way that makes it friendly and approachable. While the game stands perfectly on its own mechanically, the updated design brings it light years ahead in the appeal department.
The previous version of Santorini looked like this:
An older, unthemed Santorini board.
I’m a fan of abstract strategy games, as is my oldest son. Getting my 6-year-old to play a game that looks like the one above may have been a bit of a challenge. Getting him to play Roxley’s version took no coaxing at all.
Speaking of my 6-year-old, he was the first person to play Santorini with me. We spent some time reading the book and going over all the pieces in the box before playing our first game. Just as Roxley promises, it only took about 30 seconds to explain the rules to him and we were off. A few games later we had incorporated the God cards and he went from barely scraping by to besting his old man.
That’s one of the other things I love about Santorini. While it’s highly strategic, the rules couldn’t be simpler. Even when adding in the God cards, and even the Golden Fleece expansion, the game remains simple enough for my whole family to enjoy. To me, that’s the mark of a quality game.
Santorini has already seen a lot of play in our home in the short amount of time that we’ve owned it, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. This is one I’d love to bring to work for some lunchtime gaming with co-workers as it’s simple, attractive and something we could fit multiple games in the time we have. Unfortunately I don’t think my kids are going to let me take it out of the house.
This is one I’d say is a must-have for any gamer’s collection. It’s a serious strategy game that’s family friendly, easily accessible, and looks absolutely amazing.
A copy of Santorini was provided free for review by Roxley.
✝ The softcover storybook is a Kickstarter exclusive, and will not be included in the retail version of Santorini.
Media personality Rob Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of A Pawn’s Perspective, Rob focuses on board game reviews, events, and news. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.
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