‘Santorini’ board game review
By Ed Appleby, Illustrator
Board games can be complex things, full of thematic elements and complex, evolving rule sets. However, some of the best, most timeless games—think chess, backgammon, or checkers—are exercises in simplicity. Santorini may prove to be one of these.
Santorini (2017) is a strategy board game for two to four players designed by Dr. Gordon Hamilton and published by Roxley Game Laboratory. In the game, each player moves one of two workers around a five-by-five board, and then builds part of a three-storey Greek apartment. Workers can move up one level per turn, and the first worker to reach the third story wins the game.
Despite the simple rule set—the game boasts that it can be learned in 30 seconds—the strategies involved with moving workers to block opponents, building domes in order to block off levels, and using variable player powers that affect gameplay all add a level of complexity and sophistication to the game.
The design of the game is stunning, with simple pieces that develop into a three-dimensional, multi-level board as the game progresses. The illustration work by Lina Cossette and David Forest is both adorable and accessible—such that my own illustration cannot do them justice.
I only have two complaints with the game. Players who are really good at thinking in three dimensions may find themselves at an advantage, but this can be mitigated by strategic use of variable player powers and good ol’ player psychology. Also, even though the game can be played with up to four players, there are only three sets of workers in the box.
If you are looking for a great and accessible game with a solid level of gameplay and some really good replay value, I cannot recommend Santorini enough. It was a delightful find.