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Subject: 20X Reviews #78 - Santorini After 20 Plays rss

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Peter Barringer
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Check out a Geeklist containing all my other reviews here: 20X Reviews - A Geeklist

Time to 20 Plays: 2 Months

How to Play: Each turn consists of moving one of your pawns one space in any direction (up as many as one floor and down as many as you’d like), then constructing one building piece in any direction and at any height. Players each control a god with special abilities; the simple goal of Santorini is to reach the third level of a building with one pawn. The rules are really that simple.



I've played it so much because:
1. The god cards offer lots of variability. They included a thick stack of gods, and there’s nearly infinite room for expansion simply by adding more gods. Some are far more powerful than others, in my opinion (more on that below), but it’s nice to have some variability between games. This would still be a decent asymmetrical game without the gods, but I don’t think I would play it as often.
2. The components and art are really nice. One of the versions has poorer quality (I’m pretty sure mine is the worse quality version), but I still think the plastic components are solid. There’s also a neat stand for the game board, even if it is completely meaningless.
3. It’s a brain burner with a short play time. Much like Onitama, this game packs a ton of burn into a short time span. Because I’m a busy guy (who’s not?), I tend to like shorter games that still offer great choices and strategy.
4. You’re forced to adjust your strategy each time. The gods in this game demand an altered playing style each game. You might be able to take a similar basic approach or apply principles from previous games, but your god and your opponent’s god should require you to change your strategy both before and during the game.



I'd play it more if:
1. The gods were more balanced. I’m not saying there aren’t good strategies you can use to win with any god, but I strongly feel some of the gods are much more powerful than others. I’ve played a few games that were very one sided, even when the other person played smartly.
2. The theme were stronger. Let’s be real for a second: this is just an abstract game with some cute art and nice components. Thematically, players invoke powerful deities in order to...climb to the third floor of a building...

Rating:

Overall: I’m slightly lower on this game than most people seem to be. I think it’s because Onitama (see my review here) fills a similar niche but has less setup, fewer components, a smaller footprint, and a smaller box. I still like Santorini and plan to keep it, but the game has some flaws that I don’t like in an asymmetrical game. First, a few of the gods seem unbalanced (some are far more powerful than others), and second, the theme and goal of the game are ludicrous. Again, you’re invoking deities in order to climb to the third floor of a building! I like this game, but I think its rating (top 70 on BGG) is too high. I’m glad others enjoy it more than I do, but it’s not in my top tier of two-player games. This review seems negative, but it's really not; 7.5 is relatively a high score from me. I enjoy Santorini and plan to break it out from time to time.
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Pedro Silva
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Fair enough but Santorini is only asymmetrical when you add the gods. If you play without them, the game is completely balanced.
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Peter Barringer
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Mallgur wrote:
Fair enough but Santorini is only asymmetrical when you add the gods. If you play without them, the game is completely balanced.


True. I should have left that word out of the sentence.
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Yours Truly,
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z10n x wrote:
... I’m not saying there aren’t good strategies you can use to win with any god, but I strongly feel some of the gods are much more powerful than others. I’ve played a few games that were very one sided, even when the other person played smartly...a few of the gods seem unbalanced (some are far more powerful than others)...


Are you playing with the god rules as written?
Player A picks the 2 gods for the game.
Player B picks which god they want.

This forces Player A to pick for balance. Because if they pick an unbalanced combo, Player B will pick the stronger god.

Of course, this only works when both players know the game well enough to know which combos would be balanced.
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Thanks for the review!

I haven't tried too many of the gods yet, but I already had the impression that some are stronger than others. Luckily the game's also fun without using any of the gods.

What I really like about the god powers, though, is, that they invite lively post-game discussions about their merits and flaws. Trying different strategies and playing through various setups is quite entertaining and definitely contribute to the game's longevity.
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Jo Bartok
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Interaction leads to Immersion.
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Immersion leads to Fun.
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Mallgur wrote:
Fair enough but Santorini is only asymmetrical when you add the gods. If you play without them, the game is completely balanced.


And not so much fun.

You can easily have draft pick/ban systems (players A and B)

Shuffle and draw 12 heroes out of all: ban (A), ban (B), pick (A), pick (B), ban (B), ban (A), pick (B), pick (A)

Then Player A Picks one of his two and in reaction player B.
This can be reversed for perfect balance in another pair of games.
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Peter Barringer
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JohnnyDollar wrote:
z10n x wrote:
... I’m not saying there aren’t good strategies you can use to win with any god, but I strongly feel some of the gods are much more powerful than others. I’ve played a few games that were very one sided, even when the other person played smartly...a few of the gods seem unbalanced (some are far more powerful than others)...


Are you playing with the god rules as written?
Player A picks the 2 gods for the game.
Player B picks which god they want.

This forces Player A to pick for balance. Because if they pick an unbalanced combo, Player B will pick the stronger god.

Of course, this only works when both players know the game well enough to know which combos would be balanced.


Through 20 plays, we have just been going through the gods in order (1/2, 3/4, etc.) and playing both matchups. We haven't made it through all the gods yet, but we will start using the draft system at some point. I didn't want to get stuck playing the same gods each time.
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z10n x wrote:
JohnnyDollar wrote:
z10n x wrote:
... I’m not saying there aren’t good strategies you can use to win with any god, but I strongly feel some of the gods are much more powerful than others. I’ve played a few games that were very one sided, even when the other person played smartly...a few of the gods seem unbalanced (some are far more powerful than others)...


Are you playing with the god rules as written?
Player A picks the 2 gods for the game.
Player B picks which god they want.

This forces Player A to pick for balance. Because if they pick an unbalanced combo, Player B will pick the stronger god.

Of course, this only works when both players know the game well enough to know which combos would be balanced.


Through 20 plays, we have just been going through the gods in order (1/2, 3/4, etc.) and playing both matchups. We haven't made it through all the gods yet, but we will start using the draft system at some point. I didn't want to get stuck playing the same gods each time.


Makes sense. So, you're still in the "learning phase."

When you said in the review
I strongly feel some of the gods are much more powerful than others
I would say the designers definitely agree with you, which is why they have that "I cut/you choose" selection for the god matchup cool
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Brian Baier
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z10n x wrote:
Through 20 plays, we have just been going through the gods in order (1/2, 3/4, etc.) and playing both matchups. We haven't made it through all the gods yet, but we will start using the draft system at some point. I didn't want to get stuck playing the same gods each time.

Alternatively, you could have still started with the "1st player picks 2, 2nd player has 1st choice," and then temporarily retire the selected duo after each game.
You would wind up with two separate piles of "used gods" and "unused gods" to avoid playing the same gods each time. Once through, you start again, probably with some different match-ups.
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Russ Williams
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AFAIK the designers also notice that different beginning players have different exaggerated ideas about how "overpowered" various gods are.
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Peter Barringer
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You guys have made some really helpful comments about ways to balance the gods. That's definitely useful to me. I want to underscore, though, that I still prefer the four or five aspects I mentioned about Onitama in the final paragraph. Maybe changing the god selection will help some, but it doesn't fix the other reasons I'm slightly lower on Santorini. Again, good game, but I have more (minor) issues with it than just the god balance.
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Rasmus Helms
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Quote:


Are you playing with the god rules as written?
Player A picks the 2 gods for the game.
Player B picks which god they want.

This forces Player A to pick for balance. Because if they pick an unbalanced combo, Player B will pick the stronger god.


We use a slightly different setup, because we’ve found that picking any two gods from the entire deck can take quite a while. Instead, we randomly draw 4 gods - player 1 then selects two, and player two chooses which he/she wants. We have found it be a balanced way to choose gods.
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Peter
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I can't remember what all the god powers are, but you could simply draw 1 god and both players utilize the same power throughout the game.
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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JohnnySchmaser wrote:
I can't remember what all the god powers are, but you could simply draw 1 god and both players utilize the same power throughout the game.


This only works well for some powers; I proposed icons for the cards but then again I asked for a lot of icons.... Generally, powers with the Golden Fleece icon will be fine, or just use your common sense.
 
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Martin Brochhaus
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I haven't reached the point where I even use the god cards, but oncce the normal play gets boring, I plan to play it so that we draw gods randomly and then play game sets of two rounds and switch gods after each round. That way, if one god really is overpowered, at least both players get to enjoy this.
 
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Peter Williams
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Great review Peter. I have two minor comments and one huge criticism.

Firstly, there was very little on the 'base' game without using the Powers. I think to hit an audience who has never played or seen Santorini before this is a big part of the game. And it satisfies your symmetry concerns.

Secondly, I wouldn't be too hasty to declare some powers as unbalanced. Many times I've looked at a power and gone "woah, that looks sooo overpowered". But it was not. Every ability can be beaten with the right strategy.

And now for the criticism. The thing that completely ruined the entire review for me. I'd give you -3 Intenets and steal all your Geek Gold if I could....

The photo of the game is wrong.


The only way the worker could ascend to that level 3 building is from the far back-left corner if that was a level 2 (it doesn't look like there's one, but let's give the benefit of the doubt), however then you'd need a level 1 on the far left back-4 position or the second-from-left back-4 position (which there clearly isn't for either). It's a nice, pretty photo of the game. But one that is ALL LIES PETER. ALL LIES AND FALSEHOODS!!

Other than that, thanks for a cool review.
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PeterWilliams wrote:
Great review Peter. I have two minor comments and one huge criticism.

Firstly, there was very little on the 'base' game without using the Powers. I think to hit an audience who has never played or seen Santorini before this is a big part of the game. And it satisfies your symmetry concerns.

Secondly, I wouldn't be too hasty to declare some powers as unbalanced. Many times I've looked at a power and gone "woah, that looks sooo overpowered". But it was not. Every ability can be beaten with the right strategy.

And now for the criticism. The thing that completely ruined the entire review for me. I'd give you -3 Intenets and steal all your Geek Gold if I could....

The photo of the game is wrong.


The only way the worker could ascend to that level 3 building is from the far back-left corner if that was a level 2 (it doesn't look like there's one, but let's give the benefit of the doubt), however then you'd need a level 1 on the far left back-4 position or the second-from-left back-4 position (which there clearly isn't for either). It's a nice, pretty photo of the game. But one that is ALL LIES PETER. ALL LIES AND FALSEHOODS!!

Other than that, thanks for a cool review.

The game state shown in the picture is possible if playing the variant Gord! (Dr. Hamilton) likes with two goods/heroes per player. Evidently, blue player has a combination of Bellerophon and Minotaur and use his single use ability of leaping two steps up to headbutt the dark grey player up to level three to prevent her from winning the game! Right Peter?
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Peter Barringer
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The Player of Games wrote:
PeterWilliams wrote:
Great review Peter. I have two minor comments and one huge criticism.

Firstly, there was very little on the 'base' game without using the Powers. I think to hit an audience who has never played or seen Santorini before this is a big part of the game. And it satisfies your symmetry concerns.

Secondly, I wouldn't be too hasty to declare some powers as unbalanced. Many times I've looked at a power and gone "woah, that looks sooo overpowered". But it was not. Every ability can be beaten with the right strategy.

And now for the criticism. The thing that completely ruined the entire review for me. I'd give you -3 Intenets and steal all your Geek Gold if I could....

The photo of the game is wrong.


The only way the worker could ascend to that level 3 building is from the far back-left corner if that was a level 2 (it doesn't look like there's one, but let's give the benefit of the doubt), however then you'd need a level 1 on the far left back-4 position or the second-from-left back-4 position (which there clearly isn't for either). It's a nice, pretty photo of the game. But one that is ALL LIES PETER. ALL LIES AND FALSEHOODS!!

Other than that, thanks for a cool review.

The game state shown in the picture is possible if playing the variant Gord! (Dr. Hamilton) likes with two goods/heroes per player. Evidently, blue player has a combination of Bellerophon and Minotaur and use his single use ability of leaping two steps up to headbutt the dark grey player up to level three to prevent her from winning the game! Right Peter?


Yeah, that's exactly what I was doing! cool

Nah, I just threw some buildings together for the picture. Guess I was too hasty.
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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Actually, there are at least five ways to get into the state shown in the photo using published powers.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Zeus (could show Apollo winning against Zeus)
Charon
Minotaur vs Ares
Hera
Scylla


Odysseus would also work if the board was shifted over one space.
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