The Climbers is a game that I had heard about long before I saw it on the shelves of my local game store. I found a copy at the UK Games Expo this year, and eagerly picked it up after remembering that it sounded interesting…
Introduction to The Climbers
The goal of the game (designed by Holger Lanz) is simple – climb to the top of the structure and get as high as you can! You will move and rotate the blocks to climb upwards, and use your ladders to reach the spots that are just out of your reach. You might also find it helpful to block other climbers, as you do not want them getting higher up the structure than you do!
How to Play
Set-up is incredibly simple and fun for The Climbers (when else do you get the chance to build a huge structure out of wooden blocks?). The two large, neutral blocks are placed next to each other vertically and all of the other blocks are arranged around them (hint: it is best to place the bigger blocks at the bottom of the structure and the smaller ones at the top, so you can move these ones quickly and easily). The neutral blocks should be hidden, and there should be no gaps or overhanging blocks. Each player takes a climber, two ladders (one short, one long) and a blocking disc.
On a player’s turn, they may move and/or rotate one unoccupied block. The blocks are half-cubes, cubes and double cubes, and they can be placed horizontally or vertically. The only restrictions are that the block should not be the one moved by the previous player, and it must have at least one side touching the main structure after it has been moved.
Players may also move their climber horizontally or vertically up the structure as far as possible. Each block has the same six colours (including neutral), but on different surfaces. The climbers can only move on to a block surface that matches their own colour, or on to a neutral block surface. There can be more than one climber on a neutral surface, but only if there is room.
If a half-cube block is placed horizontally next to your climber, you can move on to that block because it is eye level with your climber. If a block is taller than the height of your climber, you need to use a ladder to climb on to the block. Each ladder can only be used once, so choose carefully! You would need a short ladder to climb a cube block and a double block placed horizontally, and a long ladder to climb a double block placed vertically.
Finally, a player may place their blocking disc on any unoccupied surface, which means that block cannot be moved or occupied by a climber until the disc is removed at the start of the player’s next turn. Again, the blocking disc can only be used once.
When all players fail to move their climber upwards, the game ends and the player with the highest climber is the winner of The Climbers!
The Good Things
The Climbers is an interesting game and different to anything I have played before. It is simple to explain, and quick to set-up and play through. The components of the game are lovely – wooden ladders and climbers, and big, colourful, chunky blocks, the kind of which you might not have played with since you were a child!
I love that the game gets people picking up blocks and turning them over to look at all of the surfaces, as well as out of their seats and walking around the table. Although not as tense as Rhino Hero, The Climbers manages to get a group of people standing around a table gazing at an impressive structure, which is great fun!
The Bad Things
I feel like there is a ‘but’ coming to all of this, although I am not too sure why! In my mind, The Climbers is meant to be quick and fun, and I think if a game was to drag on for too long players might start to get a little fed up. It could easily become frustrating if one or two players were continually moving upwards, keeping the game going, while you were completely stuck and unable to move upwards turn after turn.
Also, you probably would not want to play this game with someone who is going to overthink and analyse every block position and climber movement, as this would make the game take much longer than it should.
Final Thoughts on The Climbers
The Climbers is a game you will be able to play with family and friends who might not be gamers, as well as those more seriously into the hobby. It is a game you want to photograph, and one that will make people look twice if they see it set up on the table! Just make sure you play with the right group of people, and do not let the game outstay its welcome.