Architekton Review

Architekton game in play

A game that I picked up without knowing anything about it (I was trying to balance out a trade on 'the Geek'), was Architekton.

In Architekton, players take turns placing tiles (building and/or landscape) in an effort to make their cities connect to each other and to connect to the correct landscape. Players take turns placing 2 tiles from the 6 available face up tiles (3 building and 3 landscape). The tiles must be placed in a checker pattern of landscape surrounded by building and vice versa. Any time a building tile is completely surrounded, it is immediately scored - if it is surrounded on all four sides by the correct landscape, the owner scores a point. If not, the owner loses a point per incorrect side (and can lose the city that he has on top of it to mitigate one point of the loss). The game ends either when a player loses more points than he is able to lose (by scoring a tile with too many sides surrounded by the wrong kind of landscape), or when a certain number of tiles are placed. In the first condition, whoever hasn't been eliminated is the winner; in the second condition, players count the number of points they have scored and the number of cities they have in their largest connected group of cities and adds a point per city - then the person with the most points is the winner.

Before getting too deep into pros and cons, I must make a confession. I don't like tile placement games. You may be asking, then 1) why do you play them and 2) why should I read this review? Well, dear reader, I play them because I try to play everything - especially if I own it... and before you ask, I didn't know it was tile placement when I got it (like I said in the intro). Secondly, why should you read it... because you like me? I don't know that I have a better answer. I will try to be objective, but at least you know my bias going in. And, I suppose more specifically, it's not that I don't like tile placement, it's more that I haven't found any tile placement games that were good enough to make me like the genre, and so I blame the genre instead of the games.

For the first pro of Architekton, I really like the fact that the players are able to directly affect each other. Whereas this is somewhat possible in Carcassonne (especially with some of the expansions), in Architekton, through careful tile placement, you are able to put the wrong landscape around your opponent's buildings. This can cost him lots of points long term by making him lose his cities, or can cost him the game if done effectively enough. (As a point of note: you cannot play any tile anywhere; the new tile must match at least one side of the existing tiles. We missed this the first game, and it is critical - otherwise you could just place the wrong landscape around your opponent and the first person to play a city would basically lose.)

The next thing I like about Architekton is that my interest in the game seems to last about as long as the game play. This can't honestly be said about very many games - a ton of games take way longer than I care to play them, and some games are over when I just started to get engaged. In Architekton, however, the game takes about 20-30 minutes, and that seems about right for the complexity of it.

The next thing that I like about Architekton that is especially important since it is a tile placement game is that you have several tiles to choose from. Instead of drawing and placing a tile each turn (and thus far too much of the game being based on luck), you have 3 landscape and 3 building tiles to choose from each round. You still may not have the exact piece that you are looking for, but you at least have options of what and where you can place.

Now for the cons; first of all, there's not really that much to Architekton. I suppose I could look at this as a pro, and call it a filler game, but most filler games for me are very lighthearted. I'm thinking of games like Gloom, Lunch Money, and Liar's Dice; there may not be that much to those games, but there is that special something that makes you want to play it more.  Architekton seems to be a serious strategy game trapped in a filler game's rules set. Therefore, it doesn't really fit into the filler category for me, nor does it fit into the serious strategy game category for me, and I don't envision myself playing it very much.

My other con is that it is tile placement.  And I think tile placement is boring.  This one isn't as boring, but I still didn't really find it very exciting.  So, when you look at the overall score, and you say, "hey, he had 3 pros and 1 con, why did it get such a low score?" now you will know.

Overall, I give Architekton a 7.5/10. Though I don't care too much about tile placement games, Architekton seems to be my favorite one that I've played. With that said, I intend to give my copy to a friend that really enjoys tile placement, and I will play it with him occasionally when he bothers to bring it.

If you're looking for easy to teach games, you might also check out Monopoly Deal, Sorry! Sliders, and Pentago.

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