Sun, ancient history, architectural masterpieces: the Greek island of Santorini is synonymous with many things. Thanks to Spin Master, the island of the Cyclades is now also known for an exciting board game. Santorini is a beginner-friendly game about building the white houses that Fira and Oia are so famous for. With this title Spin Master has achieved a real surprise success, after all, the game was on the recommendation list Game of the Year 2018 with five other titles. Because you Santorini As a passionate party player, we must not ignore the trip to the plastic island and spent a wonderful time there. In the following board game review, we reveal why we liked the playful excursion so much Santorini from Spin Master.

Create, create, build houses

Everyone knows them: the white-walled stone houses with blue roofs that punctuate the Mediterranean area. At the board game Santorini it's about creating exactly these structures. The houses of Santorini grow one level at a time until one of the players has managed to move his figure to the third floor. Thanks to the excellently elaborated rule instructions Santorini particularly beginner-friendly building game. Last but not least, this is due to the manageable gameplay, which consists of two actions: building and moving.

Review of Santorini by Spin Master

That sounds extremely simple in theory: quickly stack a few building levels and move the pawn over to them, and victory is assured. The course of a game is organized on the board Santorini anything but simple - at least when it comes to quick victory strategies. As beautiful as the blue roofs may be, the constructions are small disasters for board games. Was at a building Santorini namely, if a roof is put on, it becomes virtually unusable. The third level, and thus the profit level, is simply no longer accessible. You can quickly see that Santorini Spin Master is a classic, competitive building game - unless you decide to play a round of four, then the team will play against the other duo. Clever position management is the key to success.

After the board game has been set up very easily, players start with the youngest participant and carry out their actions in a clockwise direction. The rules of movement are simple: players are only allowed to move their pieces onto free spaces and only one level upwards. This limitation does not apply in the case of a descent, so that you can move your characters down several floors. Only stepping on the roofs is prohibited. You can build on fields that border your own playing pieces.

Review of Santorini by Spin Master

The players are free in their construction projects, which are built up level by level. Each building consists of a total of four parts: three floors and the roof. With all the simplicity, attention and a certain degree of foresighted planning is still required, because if one of the players cannot move his pieces or build something, the game is over for him.

Because higher levels can only be accessed step by step, structural skills are required, as a staircase-like row of buildings is required to get to the winning days. However, because the opponent also knows this and buildings can always be entered by everyone, it happens Santorini for an abstract variant of a 4-in-a-row. Depending on the game situation, it can be extremely useful to rethink your winning strategy. Instead of continuing to strive for victory by reaching the profit level, it can sometimes be more efficient to simply wall up your opponent until they are unable to move.

Review of Santorini by Spin Master

The following applies: Joy and sorrow are closely related and players express their emotions more often. That this board game on the Recommended list game of the year 2018 is not a surprise.

The gods must be mad

There are many building games out there, so players will rightly wonder why they are Santorini should play when they could fall back on much more complex building games. Very easily: Santorini Spin Master is a lot of fun. This is mainly due to the lingering tension that the simple board game brings to the gaming tables. The catchy mechanics ensure that players can concentrate fully on their game actions, and of course those of their opponents. Round after round the race becomes more intense, more exciting and therefore also more entertaining. 

It is always important to follow your own plan and react cleverly to the actions of the opponent. Even in the simple basic variant, an exciting dynamic unfolds, which is made even more disturbing by the enclosed god cards. The full potential unfolds Santorini while in the classic duel mode. Player versus player, builder versus builder - with two figures on each side, whose starting positions can be freely chosen at the beginning on the 5 x 5 field game board.

Review of Santorini by Spin Master
Put players in the holiday mood after just a few minutes: the magnificent-looking landscape of houses on Santorini. From a purely visual point of view, Spin Master's Santorini is a real highlight.

After a few games, she also turns up Santorini a certain routine. You can break this rut ​​by using the so-called god cards, 30 of which are included with the board game. Before the first turn, each player is assigned one of the god cards, which have individual special effects, but not the same for both sides. Although this asymmetry breaks the routine of the game, it is not always good for the course of the game. This is partly because some special abilities are extremely powerful. Almost superhuman, ultimately divine. That seems intentional and mostly works, but not always. Many a game is rather watered down by the selection of the "wrong correct" god cards, because the basic prerequisite for winning takes a back seat. The god cards provide variety in any case. Whether or not players use this variant is a matter of taste - and, as is well known, there is no arguing about taste.

In any case, the special skills are useful as a loosening up, properly balanced and thus symmetrical Santorini mostly more fun.


Number of players: 2 to 4 players
Age: from 8 years
Playing time: 20 to 50 minutes
Difficulty: easy
Long-term motivation: medium

Publisher: Spin Master
Author: Gordon Hamilton
Graphics: David Forest, Lina Cossette
Year of publication: 2017
Language: German
Cost: 35 Euro


The new edition of Santorini is enormously similar to the original version. Every now and then the set of rules was given a new coat of paint, but overall the basic structure is based on the version from 2007. The look of the building game, on the other hand, has been completely revised: the great 3D structures offer players a lot for the eyes and also the illustrations of the God cards are excellent. The more the board grows in height in the course of a game, the better it sees Santorini on the table.

The basic theme, however, is interchangeable. Santorini is abstract: a backstory is included Santorini not told, or is only available in rudimentary form. Instead of playing on the island of the Cyclades, the game could also be played in the Bavarian Forest or in a Gallic village. Whatever the topic that you use for the game mechanics, the basic idea ignites regardless of profound content. 

Santorini is a plastic material battle: 72 plastic house components plus figures do not make this board game a future winner for particularly environmentally friendly production processes. This can be seen as a flaw from a purely ecological point of view, but because the price of a board game is always important for interested parties, plastic will remain the primary material in the future.

The strength of Santorini is revealed in the tactical skirmishes. Planning your own moves in advance and always keeping an eye on your opponent's possibilities creates tension. The comparison with four wins makes it clear: every player can realize his own blueprints at the beginning, but there comes a point at which the strategies of the players inevitably touch each other. From this point on, the voltage curve increases exponentially. Instead of just acting, every player has to react to the opponent - of course without making fundamental construction mistakes that the opponent could use for himself. Santorini has little to do with luck. The players' options are transparent at all times, even if one cannot always predict with certainty which actions the opponent will carry out in detail. However, the "hundred percent" appear in almost every game. Anyone who has been able to corner the opponent in such a way that only a few absolutely predictable actions remain, is close to victory.

In the asymmetrical variant, the classic sequence is sometimes mixed up with each other. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does lead to a completely different feel to the game, in which the balanced tactical component is noticeably softened. Because not every player likes that, you should be careful with the god cards, if necessary even sort out some unpleasant divine powers. Trying out different god cards in different combinations, however, makes the game extremely entertaining. Constantly getting involved in new game situations and having to react to them keeps players happy and turns them off Santorini a thoroughly motivating board game.

If you Santorini In fairness better than a pure two-person board game should have been named, is a point of contention. Yes, the set of rules also allows rounds with three or even four players, but the game principle works best in a classic duel. The variant with four players only differs in the division of the figures due to the team game, the variant with three players, on the other hand, looks a bit artificial.

Overall, however, the positional play works excellently and provides a lot of exciting, funny and frustrating moments - for example when the opponent still blocks the chance of victory at the last moment, inadvertently installs himself or acts tactically so cleverly that the movement restrictions increase with every move. The fast game play is entertaining, the optics are impressive - there is no reason to Santorini not at least to try it out.