Stats at a glance
Ages: 8 +
Build like a mortal. Win like a god.
When you think of a holiday in Greece what do you see? If you see a picture of white buildings with blue roofs – this is the game for you! Santorini is a beautiful 3-D board game that has players vying to build the biggest tower. If you’re a fan of abstract games and Greece, look no further! Read our full Santorini board game review below.
Brief Overview of Santorini
Santorini is a 2-4 player board game that has players using their builders to build the largest 3 block tower and get their builder on top! The board itself actually sits on top of a 3-D cliff to really showcase the location of the game: Santorini, Greece.
Players will take turns to move their builders by one space and then perform a construction move. The first player to get on top of a 3-block tower, wins! However, if a player can’t move AND build in one turn, they are eliminated from the game. Now, who wouldn’t want to outbuild their competitors?
Looking at the box, you will definitely get an idea of what the game is about. You can see the different stages of the towers in progress on a cliff area with a very cartoonish version of the two styles of builders.
The box is quite light for a board game but has a great feel to it. Inside the box, there isn’t an insert, and the reason for that is because there is simply no space! There are so many tower blocks, builders, and cards that an insert would make the holding box far too large. Inside the box you’ll find:
- 6 builders in total – 3 colors each
- Tower blocks – levels 1-3
- Tower domes – the blue rooftops
- Gods cards
- Ocean board
- 3-D cliff
- Playing board
How to Play Santorini
The gameplay is pretty simple for an abstract game like Santorini. Looking at it, one could expect it to be more difficult to play than it is.
The game setup is really, really easy. The tile board must be placed on the cliff piece which must then be placed on the ocean board. Once that is ready and depending on the number of players, each person will take 2 builders of the same color. Then starting with the youngest player, each person will place all their builders on the board.
The gameplay is quite straightforward. A turn consists of two phases – a move phase and a build phase. If by any chance, a player cannot move and build in one turn, they are eliminated from the game instantly. So, if you are playing a 2-player game, the other person wins.
In the move phase of a player’s turn, they can only move 1 of their 2 builders per turn and they can only move the builder 1 tile at a time. The player can also move their builder up 1 tower block at a time, or as many levels down as they want. It is not possible to move a builder two tower blocks up in one turn. Think of this type of move like a step – you can only move up one step at a time, but you can jump down all the steps at once.
A player cannot move into a space where another player’s builder is or where a dome is. Once a player has built the third level of a tower, the other players can build a dome on top of the 3rd level to prevent any player from moving on top and winning.
The tower pieces are not divided among players and are just taken when needed to build. Players can also move on towers that other players have built – winning on other people’s towers is a real possibility. Just be careful that you stick to the movement rules!
Pros & Cons
- Very quick game
- Very easy setup
- Quick to learn the rules
- You get a LOT of quality components
Santorini is a super quick game, most games will only last around 20 minutes. They can take a bit longer, but that would really depend on the type of people playing. In terms of playing Santorini for the first time, it is a game that can be learned very quickly and takes no time at all to set up.
With the release of the new edition of the game, the quality of the game pieces has improved tremendously. The tower blocks have a great feel to them – especially for plastic pieces.
- A little pricey for its size
The game is a little bit expensive for what you get compared to other games of the same size and game type. But this can be overlooked when compared to what you get out of it – more than other similar games.
Versions & Expansions
Santorini: New York
Despite the odd name and 2 completely different cities, Santorini: New York takes the traditional formula of Santorini and places players in the middle of the Big Apple.
Instead of taking on the roles of Greek gods, players take on the roles of NYC builders as they attempt to build high enough while simultaneously fighting for control of the Statue of Liberty.
Santorini: Golden Fleece Extension
The Golden Fleece expansion adds new heroes and abilities as well as the legendary Golden Fleece that grants users a one-time bonus in-game.
The Golden Fleece adds to an already great game, but its main purpose is to balance out gameplay with newer players by giving them a helping boost without breaking the game mechanics.
The artwork on the front of the game doesn’t do it justice in my opinion. It gives it a very cartoonish look that could make a person skip over it at the store. However, the art is probably for the benefit of 8-year-olds, encouraging them to play and give it a try. Plus, the actual gameplay is amazing. It can be played by younger kids all the way up to hard-core board gamers. It really depends on the players’ ability to match each other in terms of logic and strategy – very much like classic chess.
Santorini is worth adding to any collection. The artwork inside is great, the quality of the pieces is great, but the real prize is the game itself. It is a game that you will play over and over once you get it.
We hope you enjoyed our Santorini review! Have you tried this game or any other modern abstract strategy games like it? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the playability and replayability of this game, so drop a comment below!
Find more cheap board games to play in our video below:
Kendra has always been a hardcore fantasy nerd. Growing up in the worlds of Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, and Abercrombie, DnD & board games just came naturally. She and her husband, Bryan, started GameCows.com in 2018 as a fun passion project that just took over their lives. An avid board gamer since childhood and chronic DnD chronicler for more than two decades, she loves to play, write, travel, and learn dead languages.