I happened to run into Villa Paletti when I was shopping some birthday gifts for my girlfriend. I resisted the temptation until the next day, when I went and bought it. I was finally able to play it for real in the HelCon. We played some two-player games with Tommy on the day before, but to really shine the game needs four players. Three might work, but I didn’t try as I had no shortage of players.
The rules are simple enough and familiar from other similar games. You take blocks from the lower levels and add them to the top. In this case, each player has an own colour and scores points for the pillars of that colour on the top level. Who has the most points, gets to keep the seal. Who has seal when the tower falls down, wins, unless it was them who crashed the tower, in which case the winner is the player who had the seal earlier.
It’s a very funny game, as one might guess. In this game the term “turn angst” gets new dimensions. I played several games, most of which took only 10-15 minutes before the tower fell, but this one game was an exception that proved how good Villa Paletti can be. It took 45 minutes! In the end, I was literally afraid of my turns. Lots of looking around, then a swift removal of a pillar — good, the tower didn’t fall, now can I place this back on the top level? That’s scary stuff!
There’s definitely some strategic dimension in this game. At least in our marathon game we (by accident) managed to jam three yellow pillars on the bottom level. Too bad for yellow… Well, he was able to get one of them back, so about half the game the tower stood on two (2) small yellow pillars. We did get the highest level on it, too.
In the end, of course, the strategic point becomes moot, as nobody really cares about who won. But making the big, better-scoring pillars support the structure makes it easier for your opponent to collapse the tower when they go hunting for them… And that’s what I call fun.
So, the game’s really entertaining and easy, so I can see why it received the Spiel des Jahres award. Great for families, good for parties (hint: little alcohol and thus shaky hands doesn’t probably make the game any less fun) and at least ok for serious gamers as a “relaxing” filler.