The nominees for the 2017 Spiel des Jahres were announced this week. They are Magic Maze, Kingdomino and Wettlauf nach El Dorado. At this point, I haven’t played any of them, so I don’t have an opinion. I’m still trying to play and review all of the previous winners. I played Torres almost three years ago, but the review was lost in the great blogging blockage.
People have strong opinions about Torres
Not since I wanted to review Auf Achse have I had to endure the overly dramatic eye rolls and moans that my request to play Torres brought forth. Like bearded hipsters forced to drink inexpensive domestic beer from a can, my friends retched up their thoughts on this winner of the 2000 Spiel des Jahres. Most of them flatly refused to play with me. Luckily, a friend from SoCal stepped up and brought his copy. He actually liked the game.
Torres is an area control game designed by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling. This is considered to be part four of the Mask trilogy, named so because Tikal, Java, and Mexica are all designed by Kramer and Kiesling, and the covers of those games all feature giant masks. Including Torres might indicate to you that someone doesn’t completely understand the meaning of the words trilogy or mask, but all of these games are pretty similar in that they utilize an action point system.
Torres has really neat components
Originally, the game was going to be called The Castles of Gwynedd, based on the castles built in Wales by Edward I. He built eight castles, so there are eight castles in the game. That’s cool, right? The publisher decided to call it Torres and give it a Spanish theme with no historical backstory. Muchos gracias, FX Schmid. The castles in the game are built from plastic castle blocks that stack on top of each other. You score points by having multiplying the level of the castle on which your knight is standing by the surface area of that castle. If you heard a crunching sound somewhere in your head after reading that last sentence, then you will likely fall in with the dramatic retching eye-rollers after playing Torres. Did I mention the cool plastic castles? I really like them.
I played the 2001 Ravensburger English edition of the game, which was still pretty similar to the FX Schmid edition, with a simple but pleasing board design and artwork. The knights and the king are big chunky wooden pawns in bright colors. Did I mention the king? You get bonus points if you hang around the king. The action cards, which can be drawn by spending action points, add a nice bit of randomness, and are well designed. These action cards give you extra action points or allow you to do special movements. I recently helped my buddy Joe clean up his ten month old after a he made a special movement.
Basically, in Torres, you use your action point allowance to build up castles and move your knights up and down and around the castles like a crazy chase scene from an episode of Scooby-Doo. You know, where they all run into a series of doors and emerge from totally different doors. Eventually, you stop and score points based on your location. You do this a few times during the game until you stop doing it, which is a part of the game I like to call “the end.” If you have the most points, then you win, which I hear is fairly common in sophisticated game designs.
So what do I think about Torres?
I actually enjoyed the game. I didn’t love it, but I had fun with it. I can understand how the game might bog down with people who think too much about their turn, but an easy solution to this is to just play with people who are reckless and stupid. If you can find a friend that’s quick on the draw and doesn’t mind domestic beer from a can, then you can have a fun hour playing Torres. Oh, and don’t play the Master Version of the game where you remove the random element of the action cards, just play the basic game. So as long as I play the basic game and play with people who don’t get overwhelmed when faced with math or having to make more than one or two decisions, then Torres earns a solid 7 on my BGG rating system.
Torres is going to be rereleased in a new edition later this year. I might actually buy it. I really like those castle blocks and many of my friends here in Fresno haven’t played it. I don’t think I own very many games like it, and I prefer it over Tikal, but I’m not sure if I am willing to pay to have it in my collection. I will probably see if I can find a cheap used copy somewhere.
Feel free to release your inner Torres demons upon the comment section below. I place a high value on your bearded artisan brewed opinions.
This is part of my Spiel des Jahres winner series. If you would like to comment on the 2000 winner, Torres, then please do so on this post. If you would like to discuss or comment on the Spiel des Jahres award in general, please do so on the Spiel des Jahres series post.