Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Sunday 1 August 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Sky Towers

Game: Sky Towers

Publisher: EX1ST GAMES

Designer:  Charles Ward

Year: 2019
Sky Towers is a Forever Free Print and Play Game from Charles Ward of EX1ST GAMES. Whilst there are plans to publish a physical copy of the game, it will always be available for free here: https://www.ex1st.com/games/skytowers/. It recently won best 2-player game in the 2021 54 Card Game Design Contest
Sky Towers is a tactical, set collection card game from 1-4 players . It features charming artwork and clever card abilities and given it's two player credentials, it's a game we were keen to try out.
Each players starts with a hand of cards numbered from one to ten. On your turn you will get two actions, each of which can be either playing a card, or drawing a new card. When you play a card it must be added to one of your two towers, if you have yet to start one of your towers then you can use the card to form the first part of a new tower. Whenever the numbers of the cards in a tower reach 21 the tower is scored, placing all the cards used into your scoring area, freeing up one of your tower slots and possible earning you a bonus objective.

So far so simple, but almost every numbered card has a special ability, these vary from being able to take extra actions, place the card on an opponents tower, or limiting what can be played on top of them. Most notable is the five, which causes all players to discard their hand down to five cards. This can be critical as there are four bonus objectives to be claimed. The objectives require players to perform certain actions, such as making a tower made of three seven cards, or a tower only using ones, twos and threes. While these bonuses can be claimed any time a tower is completed, if another player manages to also complete that objective then they will steal the bonus from you! At the end of the game the player with the most flags on their scored tower cards will win.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

Sky Towers makes for a charming, light, family game. The theme of the game may be rather tacked on, but that doesn't mean that there isn't charm there, with some famous skyscrapers being represented including the leaning tower of Pisa which actually causes your tower to lean due to the placement of it's card slot! There is a good amount of player interaction in the game, with the ability to make players discard cards, and even play a couple of cards onto other player's towers, potentially ruining their attempt to steal objectives from you. 

The objectives themselves offered enough points to make them enticing and certainly game you a way to try and play, but at times they felt a little too hard to achieve, especially with the ability to steal them from other players. For example, one of them requires a tower with three sevens in it. There are only five sevens in the entire deck, so you'll need at least a little luck to be able to achieve that, especially at higher player counts.

Overall, Sky Towers made for an entertaining enough filler game. Families will likely have the best time with it, where the cute art style and simple gameplay will really hit home. For us the gameplay was a touch too simple and luck dependent, with the brutal truth being that Sky Towers doesn't do anything for us that isn't also achieved by better games.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

I've heard a lot of names for the traditional card game where you try and make a hand that has to equal 21 in total - be it pontoon, 21, blackjack or whatever you call it, if you have a family member who enjoys that game, they might also enjoy Sky Towers.
There's no doubt that Sky Towers is a simple game and easy for new players to grasp, but it has two twists that add a somewhat unexpected layer of tactics to the game. Limiting players to building only two towers at time means that you might get to a point where only very specific cards will work for you. Perhaps you don't want to finish a tower too quickly because the objective card you obtain might get solen later in the game. Maybe you don't really want to dig for the exact card you need, or perhaps you now know that there are no sevens left in the deck and it might be better to demolish a tower and start again. There are some good, interesting decisions to be made.
The card abilities are also a nice twist, sometimes allowing you to make special moves. However, it's the lower numbered cards, with no abilities which have the flag symbols that will ultimately be counted to win the game, so you need to judge quite carefully whether to build quick, low scoring towers, or spend more turns to get more points.
After a handful of games, I do feel like I've seen most of what Sky Towers has to offer, but it is a nice lighter game that I enjoyed quite a bit.
You Might Like...
  • The art style is really charming and humorous.
  • The restriction of working on only two sets at a time creates tough choices and makes timing key.
  • There's extra depth at two players since you're able to count the cards esily and really fight over the objectives.
You Might Not Like...
  • Objectives are easily stolen in a 2-player game, which can cause some frustrating gameplay.
  • There's not a great deal of depth, so avid gamers might tire of this one quickly
  • You can get quite unlucky when trying to draw the cards you need to complete towers.

The Verdict
5.5/10 Sky Towers doesn't feel special but it is well tuned mechainically, with a couple of interesting twists on set collection. It might be too simple for many gamers, but, with that said, it's a free print and play, so what do you have to lose, besides a bit of printer ink?! (Let's be honest, you might even be able to print it out at work!) It's certainly worth a couple of plays to enjoy the artwork and fun 2-player interaction.

A printed version of Sky Towers was kindly provided as review copy by EX1ST GAMES.

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