The Tower of Mystery Board Game Review

Review by Austin Searles
Game Designer and Steve Jackson Games MIB


Lets start with the box.
The artwork I found was very well done, the box itself is a nice heavy box that will wear well on the shelf and opens remarkably easy. Slid right off. No shaken Box syndrome, no loud obnoxious farting sound, no prying one end up just to break a seal and open the darn thing.
Ok that is pretty small, but a point in its favor.

The Components.
The pawns are, in keeping with the theme, towers. Eight of them. There are some chits to track lost turns and such, money, two decks of cards, two specialized dice, and last and certainly most annoying is the Player turn marker. Everything is well made, the cards have a nice weight to them and the chits were nice and thick and carried a little weight to them, Not enough to hurt when I got hit with them repeatedly, but enough to chuck across the table.
No there is no "Throwing Chit" mechanic in the game, We just had a player that tended to allow his anxiety to get the better of him when something bad happened. Bad things happen, and I caused a great deal of them, so was on the receiving end of said "chit" on more than one occasion.
Remember that annoying piece I mentioned? This was in my opinion a necessary evil. but maybe could have been a different design. It was a red token that was roughly the same size and shape of the pawns. It was also the same color as one of the playing pawns. I Know I grabbed it mistakenly more than once. But As I found out, an "its my turn" marker is certainly needed. as a group we would make off color comments that would spur different jokes or stories and it would be a few moment before the attention was turned back to the game. At that time the question was, "Who's turn is it?" We also have a player that is notorious for not taking his turn, and chit chatting away. the general rule at our table is, "If you have to ask whose turn it is, Its Chris's."

On to the Board.
It is certainly Busy, full of colors and images. It is a virtual smorgasbord of cacophony. Perfect for this game. The board has a nice gloss finish and a good weight as well. It is a bi fold and I thought the fold itself may be a weak spot. But for that only time will tell. The Board is the inside of the Tower portrayed in the artwork on the box. It is a twisty turny path that does look a bit intimidating and daunting at first. Once you get into the game, and understand the movement, it is actually simple enough.

And now, Game Play.
Did I mention that I am a strategy gamer? I had to quickly get used to the idea that the game in and of itself is fun. I had a hard time of playing a game just for the fun of it. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am one of the most competitive people they know. I can make a contest of anything. In this game though, and believe me, this concept is as impossible to fathom as infinity itself, it really does not matter if you win or lose. Oh, did I just say that? Yup, that was my meaty fingers that typed that last bit. This is clearly a social game, let me say that again. Social game. Not social like health care but social like getting together with friends, having a drink, BS the night away social.
Yes there are parts like the balloon in the middle of a 7 story castle spire that transports you from location A to location B, or the Blue moon square that makes you pay or lose a turn. Honestly individually these spaces make no sense what so ever. Put them together and you have a fun silly game that everyone can play and have a good time with.

Balance?
There is an Extremely high Randomness to this game. When I say Extremely high I am not talking about the creator of the Beatles Yellow Submarine Movie, but more like Cheech and Chong's down time at Christmas, after winning the lottery. Therefore there the Balance is anyone can get hosed at any time equally. I was two squares from winning Due to some masterful Strategic play, and that is when the Guy who throws chit, draws a card that moved me to the other side of the board. Doh! (you will be pleased to know that I refrained from throwing the nicely weighted chit back at him)

Conclusion - This is a very good social game, do not set it up thinking You are the greatest Strategizer and no one can beat me! It just wont happen. No amount of Superior strategery will do anything but get you close to the win. Like the Beatles, just sit back and relax and enjoy the ride. The Submarine will surface soon enough, and you will have had a fun time in the process.

I give this game a B to B+ ( I do like my strategy games )

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