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5 Towers Review

5 Towers

Small card games are my obsession. From trick takers to set collection, I absolutely love a great game that comes in a small box and plays with just cards. I was introduced to 5 Towers by the wonderful Zatu blogger Nick Welford at a convention and I was so blown away by the fun factor and player interaction that I immediately purchased a copy for myself at the same event.

I realise I have spoiled my final thoughts of this review already by proclaiming it to be great, however please read on to find out why it is so great and why I think you need 5 Towers in your collection.

How Big Is Your Tower

The game consists of a deck of cards which has five different towers each ranging from the number 15 (base of the tower) to the number 0 (tower topper). Each tower has a theme which are Sandcastles (yellow), Sweets (pink), Scary (purple), Scrap (grey), and Trees (green).

The cards are of a very good quality and the artwork is mostly functional, albeit with some nice little touches and some very close to the mark (copyright wise) characters on display (see Star Wars, Nintendo, dune, etc).

The aim of the game is to have the most points by building all five towers with as many cards as possible, hopefully with the special topper cards present.

On your turn you reveal five new cards to the middle of the table, then you bid an amount from 0 to 5 for how many cards you wish to take. If ever you bid 5 you immediately win the bid and must place the cards in your towers. However, if you bid less than 5 your opponents have the opportunity (in turn order) to try to outbid you and each other. Each player only gets one bid and the player who bids the most takes the cards and builds their towers.

Towering Over You

When you build a tower, you have to add the card to the correct theme (so sand towers only on sand etc), and the number must always be smaller than the previously placed tower card (so a 13 cannot be placed on top of a 10 but it can be placed on a 15). You are allowed once per turn (when you successfully bid and win) to discard the top of one of your towers to allow you to build a higher number (so disposing of a 5 so you can build the 6 instead, etc).

This comes at a cost though as you score negative points for each discarded card and the penalty grows exponentially worse the more cards you discard. You can never discard a tower topper (the number 0) but you also would never want to anyway.

There are two special numbers in the game which are 8 and 9. The 8 cards must always be placed in the correct location (i.e. after a higher number) but they then reset the tower enabling you to build any number on top of an 8. The number 9 can be placed anywhere in your tower (except after a 0) after which the numbers must descend again.

Living In The Penthouse

Any cards not taken get placed in a discard pile and once the deck runs out you play through the shuffled discarded cards once more. At the end of the game, you will score 1 point for each card in each tower (scoring 2 for any tower with a topper on it), and then score 1 point per card in your tallest tower. Points are then deducted for your discarded cards and the player with the most points wins.

Final  Thoughts

5 Towers is a great game that somehow works at all player counts which is very unusual for a bidding game. When I purchased this, I assumed it would be a game I would prefer to play with three or four other people but I have found myself playing this with just one other player more than anything else. Because everything is known information, from the tower cards people have built to the number of cards they have discarded, you can really push your opponent to have to outbid you for cards they really don’t want so they can get the cards they do.

The game moves a nice pace and will often be played two or three times in a row, quite often with new players playing cautiously on their first attempt and then throwing that to the wind for the second and third as they realise the importance of the tower topper cards.

The game doesn’t come with any variants or special modes and I am glad that it doesn’t as it is very clean and simple system that is easy to teach and immensely fun as it is.

I have found a few players struggle with the special 8 and 9 cards and although the tower drawings assist, it still seems to be a blind spot for some gamers. But this isn’t a criticism of the game rather just an observation.

I cannot recommend the game highly enough so go and get 5 Towers and then have fun time and time again.