I'll be the first to admit that I'm not terribly fond of abstract strategy games. When I saw the photo of Santorini, I was very intimidated by the complete lack of color, and the cold, sterile geometry of the pieces. However, once I understood the "theme" of the game, I warmed up to it a little more...does that make me fickle? I LOVE themes, even if they are just pasted on...
So, now I've played quite a few games of Santorini, and I can honestly say it's a great game. If games were people, I'd have to say Santorini is the lovechild of Torres and Chess....
The absolute simplicity of this game makes it easy to learn. In 2 minutes, you'll know the rules. However, that doesn't make it an easy game to win or master. Santorini is a brain-burner. I found that it can be played quite quickly, without a ton of thought, if you want a lighter game, OR you can ponder each move and strategy for many minutes before making a move. Generally, the game falls between these 2 extremes.
The rules are straightforward:
On each turn, a player moves his piece to an adjacent space (a builder, I presume) and places a tile (a level of adobe building) adjacent to the builder.
The winner is the first player to reach the 3rd level of any building.
Once a building reaches the 4rth level, it is capped with a dome, and cannot be expanded any further.
Your builder can move up a max of 1 level per turn, but can move down as many as you want.
The playing feild is only so big, so there's plenty of player interaction, and trying to stop the other players advance is as important as your own ascent.
Without anything else, this game is very, very good. But those are just the BASIC rules. There are also a set of GOD cards, that can be used as a handicap for good players, or that can be chosen or dealt randomly to players before a game. Each card has a God illustrated on it, and empowers the player with a special ability, like being able to place a dome on any level of building, or numerous other powers. This takes the game to yet another level! It seems to me that there are many possibilities for expansions, and variations that could keep this game fresh forever.
Congratulations Gord on a terrific game design!
I'm not afraid to put in a plug: The game can be bought at gamesbygord.com
If I was an abstract strategy lover, I would probably rate this game a 9+. I'm unsure how to rate the game, so I went with a 7, only because of the game TYPE. I'm sure the abstract strategy people will (and SHOULD) get a hold of this and rate it much higher.