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Board Game Review # 11 – Torres

2011 January 1
by Michael Schroeder

“I need to build my castle up and up so it’s the greatest castle of them all! Oh no your not I’m going to be building one even higher! And not only that – how do you feel about my sister (who’s a knight) living in your castle as well?! She’s going to get big points for me if she plays her cards right! And don’t try anything funny with her…”

Number of players: 2-4

Age: 12+ Playing

time: 60 minutes

Torres

Torres by Rio Grande Games

What’s the game about:
A description from the publisher…

A series of devastating tornadoes, unleashed by enemy mages in the recent war has left all the king’s castles in ruin. Only the foundations of these once magnificent monuments remain. He has charged his sons with rebuilding his castles and promised the throne to the one who can rebuild the tallest and largest castles. Each prince has 6 knights to supervise the building. Two or more princes may work together on a castle with their knights competing to control the highest towers of the castle. Once each year, the king will tour the castles, to judge the progress of each son. After he finishes the third tour, he will choose his successor and the winner!

Basic idea in my own words: Torres is an area control game by designers W. Kramer and M. Kieslin, published here in the states by Rio Grande Games. In Torres, you possess 6 knights that are rebuilding your castle in the hopes of achieving the most victory points by having the highest and widest castle! Torres was I believe in my initial 4
board game purchases back a few years ago. I bought it after browsing the black and yellow Rio Grande game catalog that either came with Alhambra or Carcassonne, and I figured, “well, why not start off by buying the games that won awards? Plus I love castles.” So Torres seemed to be a good fit. And it was. Torres is a very enjoyable game with a lot of little plastic castle pieces. Cool, huh?
In Torres, like every other game out there, you win the game by having the most victory points at the end of 3 days (at least, I think it’s days and not years). A day ends when all players have had a chance to place castle pieces on the chess like game board. Well, you may ask, how do you get these victory points? You get them by having the highest and widest castle, in terms of surface area. What do I mean? Take a look at the image below…

Torres

Torres

The board has some single squares where upon setup, you place an initial castle piece there. Then, on your turn, you choose a place to put your initial knight and start building your castle where your knight is. If you take a look at the green knights castle in the middle left of the above image, you’ll see he’s 2 up, and the surface area of that castle is 3 across. So your points are calculated at the end of each day by the highest level of where your knight is (one knight per castle), X the surface area. So that castle would get points. Notice that green knight is also on the middle castle, well, at scoring time, the highest position he’s at, X the surface area of that castle, he’ll also receive points for that. And this
is how scoring works. In addition to regular scoring, there is a bonus, which is the king. There is a white king pawn in the game and if you are on his castle during scoring time, and on the appropriate level (determined by game), you’ll receive bonus points. From the games I’ve played though, you’ll get more points by continuing to build yourself up a higher castle, and wider castle, and at the same time blocking off your opponents from
getting too high – in the hopes of keeping their scores lower. Think about it, the king gives a flat 5.10,15 points, but in regular scoring, we’re dealing with multiplication…so you’ll get
more points by the general strategy I mentioned above. But if you can pull off the king bonus, by all means, do it. You can have knights on more than one castle remember, and you shouldn’t be putting all your eggs in one basket, meaning you should be dealing
with multiple castles, and you simply cannot be the best one at least one of those castles, so maybe force yourself to stay at the proper level for kings bonus on those other castles. One player will generally “rule” a castle, meaning, one castle in particular
will be that players focus, so don’t try to beat them out on it, spread yourself out. The mechanics of the game is an action point allowance system.

  • Move knight (1 AP per space)
  • Pick up an action card
  • Play an action card (0 AP’s but cards cannot be played on a turn where you acquired action cards)
  • Move 1 space on score track (1 AP per space)
  • Lay a castle piece
  • Add a knight (2 AP’s)

Details on these mechanics…Players have 5 AP’s per turn, but certain action cards
will grant more.

  • Move knight one space – for 1 AP, you may move a knight orthogonally, one space. No diagonal moves are allowed. Also, you may move a knight down from any height on a castle for simply 1 AP (no damage in this game). Also, if you
    are at one end of a castle or multiple levels up on the castle, you may move “through” the castle, for 1 AP. Just imagine him moving through doors. This is a great move, it could enable you to get to the other end of a castle, or level down for 1 AP, if needed.
  • Pick up an action card – there’s gotta be action cards right? Of course. To break rules, you may pick up as many action cards as you wish (1 AP per pick up though). When picking up a card, take 3, choose the one you want, put the other
    two at the bottom of the deck. These are important and if played right, will benefit you greatly.
  • Play an action card. This actually costs nothing, but you “need” the card
    first. Cards cannot be played on a turn where you acquired cards. To play, you lay it down and just announce what it is, and perform action. The actions are detailed in the instruction manual.
  • Move 1 space on the score track. This is a last ditch effort to squeeze out extra AP’s. If you have nothing else to do this turn, you can move your score marker up one.
  • Lay castle piece. This is part of the bulk of the game. You can lay a castle piece for 1 AP. Your allotted castle pieces are determined by the number of players,
    which are summarized on summary cards, which everyone receives. When the game starts out, you may, for instance, have 3 stacks of 4 high, castle pieces. These different stacks abstractly represent the number of rounds per day/year/round. On your turn, if you place a castle piece, you take the top one off your left or right most stack and put it down orthogonally next to a castle. It doesn’t have to be one where your knight is one, but if your going to place
    it on someone else’s, I hope in the same turn, your planning on moving to that castle. When you are building your castle “up”, there is a height limit equal to the surface area of that castle. So, if you are adding height wise, to a castle that has 5 pieces wide on it, the height, at that time, can be no higher than 5. Also
    to note, when adding to surface area, castles cannot butt up against each other. So plan carefully.
  • Add a knight for 2 AP’s. You need to do this. Don’t plan on winning the game with one knight out there. Quickly get more knights out and get on other castles so you can hopefully block your opponents from going to high. Note this, because when a knight moves, they cannot move through your knights, or the king. And only 1 knight per space allowed. BUT, multiple knights are allowed on castles, and multiple knights will score per castle.

So there you have the mechanics. The action point allowance system, which is tight, so you must plan accordingly, and try to block your opponents from going to high, while spreading yourself out in the hopes of achieve the most VP’s! Like any game, the action cards
will also help you win. They do such things as let you add an extra castle piece from the general stock, or jump up an extra level higher (as long as legal).

Torres

Torres

Variations:

The game also includes cards and instructions for a master game, which contains
bonus points and goals. I have yet to play this alternate.

Component Quality: 3/5

Standard plastic pieces, but decently strong, unlike some mini’s games. Typical Rio Grande quality. No real complains here. Box is just the longer type so not as easy to store as some smaller box games.

Theme: 4/5

I really like this theme, because I love castles. I don’t really pay much attention to the actual theme of the game, tornadoes ripped down the castles so they must be rebuilt. I just know it’s castles!

Instruction Manual: 4/5

Well written, and easy to read.

Luck Factor: 1/5

The only luck element in this game is the drawing of cards, but you get to choose one.

Strategy: 4/5

I find this is a deep strategy game without a lot of complexity. It reminds me of chess in some way, due to the nature of the grid board and moving pawns. Not a lot of luck.

Overall feelings: 4/5

I really enjoy this game. While it’s certainly not the best game out there, it’s up there. It’s certainly best when played with 4, which is the biggest problem. I don’t always have 3/4 people around to play. 2 players is a little less, “intense”, so not as fun. But this is a great euro strategy game which I encourage you to try. I just wish it could come out more. It doesn’t because I have so many better games. But overall, I’m really glad to have this in my collection!

One Response leave one →
  1. January 1, 2011

    Thanks for the review! I’ve been tossing around the idea for some time now that I really need to give this game another chance. It was one we bought early into our “gaming explosion”, a time when we were rapidly picking up games and couldn’t possibly give them all the attention they deserve, and it lost out table time to games with more dramatic themes, prettier art, or that were “more popular” with our friends or on the internet. We played it once and didn’t hate it, but were more interested in other games at the time. Also I remember thinking it was too “thinky”. Somehow this one has flown under the radar for over 5 years now and has not been pulled off the shelf once in that whole time. Sad. After reading your comments, I feel inspired to dust it off and see if I can figure out the strategy of it now that I am a lot more experienced in strategy games, have grown to love the “thinky” games, and we are a lot less saturated with “new shiny” games to play. I think we’ll take your advice and try it with 4 players.

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