The Tower of Mystery board game

The Tower of Mystery Board Game Review

The Tower of Mystery
Review by DeQuan Watson
Co-Owner, The Game Closet
Waco, Texas

Man, I'm not even sure where to begin with this game. I guess I'll break it down by parts and then get more in-depth.

The one thing I didn't like about this game was the box. More specifically the box art. And the art is high quality, slick, and clean. The problem though, is that it doesn't convey what's inside the box very well. The outside looks like it might contain a 5,000 piece puzzle. If it were just tossed on the shelf, it might be a hard sell.

This is all high quality stuff. The board is thick and has a nice gloss finish. It should withstand a lot of wear and would likely survive a spilled soda or two.  It comes with 8 playing pieces that are all shaped like little towers. This is a nice touch. The money in the game has a decent feel. It's much like the money in other games. There is very much a Monopoly feel to the money. The two decks of cards are solid. They aren't the most sturdy in the world, but they aren't super flimsy bendable cards either.  However, because of the large amounts of handling the cards will go through, I recommend sleeving them up. This is starting to become a standard for most board games getting lots of play.

All of the rules for the game fit on a six page rulesheet. They are pretty clear and straightforward. There are a couple of examples listed to explain some odd wordings, but otherwise, it's pretty direct.  The game also includes four cheatsheets with the board icons on them, that tell you what they all do. Additionally, a shortened version of the rules is on the backside of each cheatsheet. This sheet was handy for getting through our first play of the game.

I rounded up three random customers to play the game with. Each of them does enjoy board games. They all seem to enjoy different games other than those: miniatures, CCGs, video games, etc. This seemed like a fine test group.  They say the game takes 30 minutes per player. For our first game, it took us about 35 minutes or so per player. So, this sounds about right. For larger games 6+ (the game plays up to 8), I'd recommend going with the rule of letting you choose which direction to go AFTER rolling the dice.  That's the one thing that can slow gameplay down. Normally you have to choose which direction you are going BEFORE you roll the dice. In the rulebook though, it clearly states that allowing players to choose after rolling speeds the game up. The regular way could generally be used for a harder version of the game.

The goal is to get Mystery Cards that spell out the word "tower", collect tokens from the four turrets (by touching them or buying them) and then making a mad dash for the exit. It seems easy enough, but it has a lot of screw-your-neighbor elements in the game that can make it difficult.  Every space on the board does something, so no one has a dead turn. And even when you don't move, your square reactivates. All of the actions can really cause you to change your plan multiple times throughout the course of a game.

Even with all the randomness though, there are chances for strategic play. We had one player collect all the turret pieces and then played a card to swap hands with a player. This allowed him to acquire the word tower. He basically had someone else do half of his dirty work for him.  Another player in our game also had a strong play. He managed to catch everyone else in a turret, so he played a mystery card that drew two turret cards and everyone but him would be susceptible to the effects. The reason this was crucial is that we couldn't play mystery cards to defend ourselves while in the turrets.  Even though there are lots of random elements to the game, it has it's moments for strategy if you put your mind to it. The overall feel though is one of laughter and relaxed, casual gaming. That's the niche that this game fits well into.

People that like Munchkin should love The Tower of Mystery. It had all the fun of Munchkin. It had the randomness. It even had the screw-your-neighbor element. However, this had a goal that you had more control over. And no one is ever going to feel left out on another player's turn as they have cards that come into play at ANY TIME. Better yet, another player is likely to do something that gets you involved.  In some ways, it reminds me a bit of Munchkin and Fluxx. Obviously though, these items are put to a board that gives it more direction.

The Tower of Mystery has a low price point which is likely to help its sales. It's got high quality parts. And the gameplay is fast, highly interactive, and it won't take all night to finish.

All the players in our game definitively agreed that this is a good middle of the road game. It should appeal to a lot of gamers. It will be a great couples game and a great board game night type game. I will say though that if you are a serious, strategic gamer, that you should steer clear of this title. The randomness will bug you. You'll hate having a plan go awry after 15 minutes of setup.   I didn't expect to be so into this game after our first play of it. Two of my fellow players were a bit skeptical. By the end of the game though, we were all giving it a thumbs up. There were several "Oooohhh!", "Ahhhh!", and "Damnit!" moments. We were already contemplating who to drag into this game on our next board game day.

If you've got an itch for a funny, interactive, casual game, give The Tower of Mystery a shot. It'll be worth your time. But again, if you are looking for something to stretch your brain cells heavily, run the other way.