TTU Header Image Santorini

Santorini Review

Designer: Gordon Hamilton

Artist: Lina Cossette, David Forest

Publisher: Roxley Games

Year Published: 2016

No. of Players: 2-4

Ages: 8+

Playing Time: 20 minutes

Main mechanic / Theme: Abstract, Ancient Greece

Santorini is an abstract strategy board game in which players use special powers to build their way to the top.

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Build up, climb up, and achieve victory over your puny opponent!

Santorini Board Game


Gameplay and Mechanisms:

Santorini is an abstract-esque strategy game in which players take the role of two builders, trying to build the Greek city of Santorini. To win, a player must move their worker to the top of a tower (3rd floor, please) or trap their opponents’ builders so they can’t move. Sounds easy, right? Well, yeah, the concept is. But with special player powers (called “god powers”) and devious planning, it’s trickier than it sounds.

A turn in Santorini is easy enough: move your builder, then build part of a building. You can move to any adjacent spot (including diagonally), climb up one level, or drop down any number of levels. Each player has a special god power—based on a god or creature from Greek mythology—that helps them achieve their goal in unique ways. Some ways even offer alternate win conditions!

Santorini is highly strategic but also plays quickly. Because of the simple rules (move then build), it’s accessible to kids, too. I’ve been playing it with my kids since the oldest was 6 years old (he’s 8 now), and his brother, 7, love playing it as well. Sometimes I let them win (shh! Don’t tell!), but there are more times than I would have expected that they beat me while I’m trying to give them a slice of humble pie.

The main mechanism involved is essentially abstract strategy—that is, moving pieces on a grid and does not involve luck. It’s a battle of wits, essentially (just without the Sicilian and poisoned drinks), with each player reacting to the previous player’s move. Despite that, there’s a lot to consider. After all, each player controls two builders who can move in one of nine different directions, move up, move down, and build in one of nine different directions as well. Talk about options! If you’re not paying attention, your opponent can trick you into thinking they’re planning something else, or you can miss an open tower entirely.

There’s a lot to love about Santorini. It’s a great filler, it allows for tons of strategy (especially with all the various god powers), and it gets your mind working. What’s not to enjoy about that?

Santorini Gameplay


Theme and Artwork

The theme is that of building the Greek city of Santorini—blue roofs and all. The components do help build the theme, and the builders and god cards help with the Ancient Greek vibe as well. It’s one of those games I love taking pictures of because it looks so dang awesome!

The rule book, too, is beautifully simple. With the simple rules, there’s not a lot to discuss as far as gameplay goes, so it’s easy to jump right in. Much of the rule book contains descriptions of all the god powers, so while the cards are just icons and images (great for kids), there is a detailed version to look at if questions arise. The card art is cartoony and fun, but don’t let that deceive you into thinking it’s not a game to take seriously!

Santorini God Cards


What Worked:

The game’s mechanics are what make this game so enjoyable. Simple, yet elegant (cliché, I know, but it works here). Because of that, it’s a quick thinky game for me and my wife, me and the kid(s), or just the kids on their own (which is also a thing). The components, too, just add to the beauty of the game. The white buildings wouldn’t be half as grand if it weren’t for the blue-domed tops. A small touch, but greatly appreciated!

Santorini Blue Roofs


Final Thoughts:

All in all, Santorini is a keeper. I love that I can play it with my young kids, and that it’s also fun for me, too. I think we’ve all played our fair share of monotonous kid games, which they find the best ever. To be fair, if they’re happy with those, then that’s great too. But with Santorini, I’m not sitting and waiting for the game to be over. In fact, we usually play best of three (sometimes more). I know I’ve mentioned multiple times throughout this review how kid-friendly Santorini is, but I want to clarify that it’s not intended to be a kid game. It just works as one, too, which is a bonus.

I have played numerous games of Santorini, and I can’t think of anything glaringly wrong about it. Sure, there are a lot of god powers, so learning them all can take time, but isn’t that a good thing, too? I’d say so. It may not be the most complex abstract game around, but it fulfils its purpose with all the glory of Zeus.

As a comparison, Santorini is similar to games like Hive (so I’ve heard; I’ve not actually played this one) and Torres (can confirm). If you’re into abstract strategy games, Santorini is an excellent choice. It’s quick, simple, and, most importantly, fun.


Santorini Game with Box 

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