The Towers of Arkhanos is one of those games that I can see myself being able to keep in my collection for a long, long time. Like so many successful designs, its components (both in terms of physical pieces as well as gameplay) are modest – simple really, though that word has negative connotations for some which don’t suit my intent. The Towers of Arkhanos is a game that is so playable that I see myself breaking it out at game nights, at family gatherings, any time I need an accessible game that anyone can enjoy.
Gameosity was provided a review copy of The Towers of Arkhanos. We weren’t otherwise compensated.
At the beginning of each round of The Towers of Arkhanos, the lead player will roll some dice, and then each player will take turns drafting a die and adding it to one of the four towers being collectively built by the group over the course of a set number of rounds.
Dice are added to the towers, based on the placement rules defined by the current floor. For every die you place, you also add one of your meeples to the tower, marking your contribution for determining majority scoring.
As soon as a tower has all of its placement spots filled, it is scored, with the player who contributed the most to it gaining the most points. Meeples deployed with dice are returned, and a new tower segment is dropped on, which means new placement rules and restrictions.
Icons on the dice placement locations allow you to gain bonuses, including points and extra placements. These extra placements are unique in that you do not use a die – instead, you deploy a meeple, one of your hapless apprentices, to go stand in a die’s stead.
Players also gain ‘magic spells’ over the course of the game, which allow for the manipulation of dice – adding, subtracting, rotating, and altering die colors. Careful use of your spells will prevent you from being stymied by an unlucky dice pool.
The Towers of Arkhanos has great table presence, which is somewhat surprising when you consider that it’s a game with 3 sorts of components – generic meeples, cardboard discs, and six-sided dice. But the art on the towers is lovely, the dice are big and chunky, and there is a certain delightful spectacle to watching the towers rise, level by level, as you and your opponents claim levels and the prestige points that go with that.
The Towers of Arkhanos isn’t a thinky game, and that’s perfect considering its general weight and fit. Your turn-by-turn choices are easy to grasp, and the drafting of dice means that it’s impossible to get too mired down in long-term thinking. And yet, even within that, your finite number of meeples means that you’ll still have to be a bit tactical with your plays, lest you spread yourself too thin and find yourself unable to effectively establish majorities in the towers as they go up.
The Towers of Arkhanos scales nicely to all player counts, with the 2 player game being especially satisfying because each player will get to take multiple turns per round. From its presentation to its design to its relatively portable box size, we have really enjoyed our time with The Towers of Arkhanos, and certainly recommend it for anyone whose group will appreciate an accessible dice-driven drafting game!
Suggestions based on The Towers of Arkhanos …
- For those who love building things: Castles of Mad King Ludwig – Though it lacks the verticality of The Towers of Arkhanos, Castles of Mad King Ludwig lets each player build out their own unique castle, complete with differently-shaped rooms to create an engaging spacial puzzle, plus a really unique auction system!
- For those who want to draft dice: Coimbra – This phenomenal dice placement/set collection hybrid was more or less our game of 2018, and it is surprisingly strategic, given its dice-driven core.
- For those who just want another game about a tower: Tower – this relatively obscure game from Undine Studios remains a favorite of ours, with great art and smooth set collection mechanics. Not enough people played this one!