An older game this time, 1999, but I’ve just played it for the first time just recently. Torres is an abstract Spiel des Jahres winner from Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer. A three-dimensional abstract game. The board is an 8×8 grid and you place tower blocks next and on top of each other, you move your knights around to score points at the end of every round. There are three rounds and the player with the most points after the third round wins the game.
Before the game begins, you have to place eight starting tower blocks on their designated spots and then every player takes six knights in his colour. At the beginning of every new round, players also get an amount of tower blocks in stacks of a certain hight, depending on the amount of players and the round you are in.
In your turn, you can spend five action points to place a tower block, place a knight, move a knight (onto a tower for instance), exchange an action point for a regular point or buying an action card. Action cards give you more (surprising) movement or tower placement possibilities or they just give you more action points to spend in later turns. You can play one action card per turn and it costs you no action points. A castle can never be higher than its surface level is large, castles cannot be connected and you can’t use spaces that are occupied by other knights.
The most important question: How do you score points? The game plays over three rounds and every round has four turns per player. At the beginning of every round the King is placed (by the player with the least points) on a castle (a concatenation of towers). Players can score bonus points when they have a knight on that castle on a certain tower level. At he end of the first round you can score 5 bonus points when you have a knight on the first level. Second round, 10 bonus points when you have a knight on the second level. Third round, 15 points, third level. You can only score this way once per round.
That were the bonus points. Every round you can score ‘regular’ points for one of your knight per castle. Your amount of points per castle equals the surface level times the hight of your highest knight in that castle.
That’s a quick description of the game.
Well, I found this game very fun. Easy rules, like many abstract games, but a lot of strategy. The action points system, although AP prone, works pretty well. You have to make a lot of choices and you have to spend your action points well. When you build towers, you have to build effectively, because you can only use one stack per turn and unused blocks are wasted at he end of your turn. You have to build for yourself, but you also need to make sure that other players don’t profit too much from your move, you have to think in a three-dimensional way.
The action card are really nice, with their help you can do all kinds of ‘surprising’ stuff. You can play this game as casual or as hardcore as you want. The basic version has luck of the draw when you draw the action cards. However, there is a ‘master’ version of the rules, which I have not played, where there’s little to no luck at all, because you have your own set of action cards instead of a general stack.
We have played the basic game and there were moments where Analysis Paralysis lurked around the corner. You need to watch out for that, or not if you don’t care if you have to wait a while before it’s your turn again. Torres can be a real brain burner if you want to, you can calculate what your ideal move is, but I think it can also be a nice casual game. It’s easy to learn, it only takes an hour to play (if you keep the pace high) and it just looks good with all the tower blocks stacked on top of each other.