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  • Writer's pictureJared Neal

Santorini - Build Like A God


Retail Price: $30

Player Count: 2-3 (best at 2)

Age Range: 8+ (5+ in our experience)

Play Time: 20 mins. (can vary greatly, but usually not more than 20 mins)

Complexity: 3.5 out of 10 (we would put the complexity slightly lower, maybe 2.5)

Mechanisms: Race, Pattern Building, Three Dimensional Movement, Variable Player Powers

Designer: Gord! (Gordon Hamilton)

Artist: Lina Cossette, David Forest

Publisher: Roxley


Educational Value:

  • Strategic Thinking

  • Pattern Recognition

  • Future Planning

Flavor Text:


“You are a god out of Greek mythology. Compete against fellow gods to get a loyal follower on top of a temple on the beautiful island of Santorini.”


Overview:


In Santorini, players move and build on their turn, trying to be the first to get one of their God figures to the top of one of the fully built towers.


Setup:

  • Place the island board on top of the Cliff Pedestal

  • The youngest player will be the first player, and places their two Workers on to the board

  • The other player(s) will then place their Workers onto the board, in order of youngest to oldest

Gameplay:


Starting with the first player, each player will take two actions on their turn:


  • Move

    • You may move either of your Workers to any adjacent location on the board (diagonal or orthogonal)

    • Your worker may only move up one level, but may move down any number of levels

  • Build

    • You may place a block or dome on any unoccupied adjacent space, to the Worker you just moved

    • Blocks may be placed on the ground level, on the second level, or the third level

    • Domes may only be placed on top of the third level of a block tower, and once placed make a tower complete


You win the game, if you are able to move your worker on top of the third level block during your turn.


You lose the game, if you are ever not able to move and build on your turn.


God Powers


Above is everything you need to know for the basic ruleset of the game, but you may also play with God Powers. If playing with God Powers, at the start of the game one player will choose God Power cards equal to the number of players. Then starting with the player to their left, you each will select a God Power card.


Using God Powers

  • The normal rules of the game still apply when using your God Power, but you must now follow the additional requirements on the card, or you will lose the game.

  • God Powers apply at specific times, may require additional setup, or may require additional win conditions, all of which is outlined on the card and in the instruction manual.

  • If the card references “blocks” that doesn’t include domes

  • If a players God Power allows them to “force” you to another space, that doesn’t count as you “moving” to that space

    • So if they move you on top of the third level, you do not win

Simple Gods

  • Apollo - your Worker may move into an opponent Worker’s space, forcing their Worker into the space you just vacated

  • Artemis - your Worker may move one additional time, but not back to where it came from

  • Athena - if one of your Workers moved up on your last turn, your opponents Workers can’t move up on their turn

  • Atlas - your Worker may build a dome at any level

  • Demeter - your Worker may build one additional time, but not on the same space

  • Hephaestus - your Worker may build one additional block (not dome), on top of your first block

  • Hermes - if your Workers do not move up or down, they may move any number of times, and then either may build

  • Minotaur - your Worker may move into an opponent Worker’s space, if their worker can be forced one space straight backwards to an unoccupied space at any level

  • Pan - you also win if your Worker moves down two or more levels

  • Prometheus - if your worker does not move up, it may build both before and after moving

Advanced Gods

  • Aphrodite - if an opponent Worker starts its turn neighboring one of your Workers, its last move must be to a space neighboring one of your Workers

  • Ares - you may remove an unoccupied block (not dome) neighboring your unmoved worker (including any tokens)

  • Bia - you get to place your Workers first at the start of the game, and if your Worker moves into a space, and the next space in the same direction is occupied by an opponent Worker, you remove them from the game

  • Charon - before your Worker moves, you may force a neighboring opponent to the space directly on the other side of your worker, if it is unoccupied

  • Chaos - take the remaining God powers deck, and reveal the top card. You may use that God’s power at any time, but any time someone builds a dome you discard that God, and reveal a new one

  • Chronus - you also win if there are at least 5 complete towers on the board

  • Circe - if an opponent’s Workers don’t neighbor each other, you alone have their power until your next turn

  • Dionysus - each time a Worker you control creates a complete tower, you may take an additional turn using an opponent’s Worker, but no player can win during this extra turn

  • Eros - your Workers must start on opposite edges of the board, but you win if your Workers move to a neighboring space, and they are on the first level

  • Hera - an opponent can’t win by moving into a perimeter space

  • Hestia - you Worker may build one additional time, but not on a perimeter space

  • Hypnus - if one of your opponent’s Workers is higher than all of their others, that Worker can’t move

  • Limus - opponent Workers can’t build on spaces neighboring your Workers, unless building a dome creating a complete tower

  • Medusa - at the end of your turn, your Workers build in lower neighboring spaces containing an opponent Worker, removing them from the game

  • Morpheus - at the start of your turn, place a block or dome on your God Power card. Your Worker may build any number of times using the blocks/domes collected on your card, but any player may exchange pieces on your God Power card for different pieces

  • Persephone - if possible, at least one of your opponents Workers must move up this turn

  • Poseidon - if your unmoved Worker is on the ground at the end of your turn, it may build up to three times

  • Selene - instead of your normal build, you may build a dome at any level using your female Worker, even if you moved your male Worker

  • Triton - each time your Worker moves into a perimeter space, it may move again

  • Zeus - your worker may build a block under itself


Luck/Strategy:


This game similar to chess, checkers, or other abstract games, has no luck at all, other than possibly the determination of the starting player, and if you aren’t the player selecting which Gods are in the game. The strategic depth here is great, but we would highly recommend you start with the basic game, and play that way at least a few times before jumping into the God Powers.


Artwork:


The artwork in the Roxley edition of this game is great. The Gods are all super cute, and drawn in humorous and fitting poses. The board and towers look straight out of the city of Santorini, with the striking white towers and blue domes, contrasting against the playing board.


Theme:


This game is very thematic, from the direct correlation to the architecture in real life Santorini, to the way the Gods move, usually being directly related in some way to their mythology.


Replayability/Fun Factor:


The base game of Santorini is pretty replayable, as is the case with most good abstract games, because every move your opponent makes changes every future move you can make. When you add in the God Powers, there are literally more possible combinations than you are likely to ever play. Our family really enjoys Santorini, but in my experience most people either enjoy abstracts or they really don’t. There is enough theme and cute artwork here though, even someone who isn’t usually into abstracts may be willing to give it a go.


Conclusion/Audience:


As mentioned above, if you don’t typically enjoy traditional abstracts, I am not going to recommend this for you. However, if you and your family have always played chess or checkers, and are looking for something fresh to try out, I think you are going to love this game. You can literally play this game with any age, preschool and up, but if you want to add in the God Powers, you certainly will need to walk through how that works with younger players.


+ Easy to learn

+ Quick to play

+ High replayability

+ Beautiful components and art


- If you don’t like abstract games


Final Score:


Jared - 8

Abigail - 7


Other Games You Might Like:


Azul, Calico, Hive, Onitama, Patchwork, Yinsh


This game was purchased from my friendly local game store, and is available here. This isn't an affiliate link, but just my way of trying to support my FLGS, who carry great games at even better prices.


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