Games, Reviews

Gryn and Grump Review Santorini

 Santorini by Game Designer Gordon Hamilton

Gryn
Gryn
Hey Grump!
Gryn.
Grump
Grump
Gryn
Gryn
What are we doing today?
You’ve forgotten already, haven’t you? We’re supposed to talk about Santorini … You know, the game we just finished playing 30 minutes ago…. We played seven times in a row …And somehow you won all of them…. And then you said you had to go and get something out of your ear …
Grump
Grump

Gryn
Gryn
What? I can’t hear ya real well, Grump. I got something in my ear.
This. This game, Gryn. We’re supposed to review this game.
Grump
Grump
Gryn
Gryn
Oh yeah! Santorini! The game with the blocks and the gods! Weren’t we gonna review that one? We should do that.
YYes. Yes, we should.
Grump
Grump
Gryn
Gryn
Ok. I’ll start: 
Gryn
Gryn
S’good…
Yes, that’s great, Gryn, but would you care to say more? Like why you think it’s good? What was good about it?
Grump
Grump
Gryn
Gryn
Oh. Yeah. Well, first, it’s real pretty. I like the little plastic cliff that ya put the board onto and the blocks that ya use ta build the towers and how they fit together real nice. It all feels so satisfying, when ya stack the white blocks so neatly together and then put the blue domes on top. It really feels like yer building a little town. The little worker minis ’re nice, too. I wanted ta just leave the last town we built up so I could look at it ferever.
Good, Gryn. Very good. The components are excellent. I’m gonna back up, though, and explain the rules a bit for folks who don’t know them.
Grump
Grump
Gryn
Gryn
 OK, Grump. Just wake me up when yer done
Falls asleep instantly.
Er, right. Well, in short, at the start of a game of Santorini, the players each place two workers anywhere they want on a five-by-five grid. Taking turns, each player moves one of his or her workers one space, possibly up onto previously placed blocks, though the worker can only climb a maximum of one “floor.” After moving, the player must “build” a new block in any space now adjacent to that worker. If the space already has a block, the new one is stacked on top of it. If the space has three blocks already, a blue dome is instead built on top to complete the building. It can no longer be added to and workers can’t move there. You win by moving one of your workers up onto a three-story building. That’s it. Of course, you are trying to prevent your opponent from doing the same thing. Though you can play with just these basic rules, Santorini also comes with a collection of God Cards, with fairly cute artwork based on Ancient Greek mythology, that grant distinct powers to each player and significantly change the strategies and game play. Ok, Gryn, back to you …
Grump
Grump

GRYN! Wake up!
Grump
Grump

 

Gryn
Gryn
Huh? Wha? Oh, yeah, sorry Grump. I didn’t hear ya. I think I got something in my ear.
Snorts and wipes at drool.
It’s fine. Why else did you like Santorini?
Grump
Grump

 

Gryn
Gryn
Well, second, it’s quick. Like 15 minutes quick. Which is cool. I feel like lots of other “abstract” games (Chess and Go, I’m lookin’ atchoo) take too long. By the end of the game, my brain is smokin’ and I need a big ol’ tankard of Dwarven ale. After a game of Santorini, I just wanna play again.
Snorts and wipes at drool.

 

But you had a big ol’ tankard of Dwarven ale at the end of every game of Santorini!
Grump
Grump

 

Gryn
Gryn
Sure, but I didn’t NEED the ale. I just wanted the ale. ‘S a big difference.

 

Fair enough. Speaking of Chess, Gryn, I couldn’t help but feel that Santorini has a fair amount in common with that game and other abstract strategy games. Like, for instance, though the rules say that Santorini can handle 2-4 players, it really seems best with just two, playing head-to-head, like many other games in this category.
Grump
Grump

 

Gryn
Gryn
Yeah, two players’s best. And ya definitely need ta be able ta look a few turns ahead and ta be able ta predict yer opponent’s moves. Ultimately, the way ta win is ta have two winning moves, with yer opponent only able to block one. Ta do that, ya really have to be able ta see inta the future. Did I ever tell ya that I can see the future, Grump?

 

No.
Grump
Grump

 

Gryn
Gryn
That’s probably cuz I can’t. It would’a been a weird thing ta tell ya.

 

I’m ignoring that. But this similarity to Chess and other strategy games can be off-putting to some players, right? Like in the way that the beginning of each game, when there aren’t any blocks on the board yet, can feel very random and hard to analyze. It feels like your workers are just wandering around until things start happening.
Grump
Grump

 

Gryn
Gryn
Yeah. But I think that experienced players’ll figure out openin’ “gambits,” like in Chess, that’ll help ‘em with the opening moves.

 

I think some players might also feel that play consists entirely of constantly blocking their opponent’s moves until someone makes a mistake and the other player wins. Like a 3D version of Connect Four. That doesn’t seem very fun.
Grump
Grump

 

Gryn
Gryn
Again, there’s a little bit of a learnin’ curve to Santorini, but eventually the game is an excellent strategy game, where each player is consistently pushin’ ta win while occasionally havin’ ta divert ta counter the opponent. The way it should be.

 

On the box, Gryn, it says that the recommended player age is 8+. Do you think that 8-year-olds can really grasp the sort of strategy that you’re talking about?
Grump
Grump
Gryn
Gryn
It’s gonna depend on the kid, a’course, but the basic rules of the game’re totally within an 8-year-old’s range. Sure, a kid’s gonna lose ta an experienced adult, but that’s probably a good thing. Otherwise, the game would be totally random, like a coin-flip.

 

Ok, so good components, quick, strategic, and kid-accessible … anything else you want to tell the good folks in the internet?
Grump
Grump

 

Gryn
Gryn
Oh yeah! The god-cards! They’re great. They add a whole ton’a replayability to the game, cuz there’re so many different combinations of gods ta play against each other. Each one of the gods allows its player to break the rules in some way and forces both players ta rethink their approaches to the basic strategy. Ya don’t need to play with the gods, but I think everyone’ll want ta after a game or two with just basic rules. And the 30 god cards themselves’re separated into simple and advanced, so ya can increase the complexity at … yer … own … pace.  Um, is this thin in my ear a banana?

 

Yes, I agree. The gods really make Santorini something that one could play for years and years … Gryn, do you need a hand with that?
Grump
Grump

 

Gryn
Gryn
 What’s that, Grump? I can’t hear ya real good. I think I gotta banana in my ear!.

 

CAN I HELP? Stop hitting yourself on the head with that banana!
Grump
Grump

 

Gryn
Gryn
No, I don’t think so … Instead, can ya help? This thing’s driving me … bananas!

 

I’m not responding to that.
Grump
Grump
Santorini on Board Game Geek
Rating: 7.6 out of 10
Players: 2-4 
Playing Time: 20 minutes
Ages: 8+
Complexity: 1.75 out of 5

 

 

About Gryn

Gryn is a goblin. A very large goblin. And he loves games. And he loves you- you're part of the tribe, after all!

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