FTW Staff Picks - Villa Paletti

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new. 

Villa Paletti

Genre: Dexterity

Designer: Bill Payne

Player Size: 2 to 4 Players

Game Length: 30 minutes

For fans of: Jenga, Bandu, Rhino Hero

The ultimate equalizer in the tabletop universe will forever be balancing games. No matter your age or experience, stacking things to great heights will test each individual equally. It’s why Jenga still remains one of the most popular games in the world. We get plenty of visitors from different backgrounds and ethnicities, and the one game that is universally loved and played is Jenga. In 2002, the Spiel des Jahres award went to Villa Paletti; a balancing game. And while time has forgotten it, we still stand by it as one of our favourite dexterity choices.

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In Villa Paletti, each player takes on the role of architect hoping to see the completion of the castle to the sky. Each player is assigned a colour and each colour has 5 columns. In a 2-player game, each player takes control of 2 colours each. On the active player’s turn they must either move one of their columns to the top-most level or if they believe it’s not possible, they may suggest to start a new floor. If any player objects, they may attempt to move one of the active player’s columns. If they succeed the column is removed from the game. If they fail, the active player may remove one of the objector’s columns from the game. If there are no objections, the active player simply adds the new floor. The Master Builder’s Seal is given to whomever has the most columns standing atop the highest level, after the green floor has been built. If the building collapses or no further player can build, the game is finished and the player with the Master Builder’s Seal is declared the winner!

If you’re only familiar with Jenga, you may be surprised by the levels of depth you’ll find in Villa Paletti. There’s a sense of cooperation, but it is still very much competitive. The objection element of the game brings real confrontation to an otherwise peaceful game. The theme of competing architects whose egos get in the way of constructing this building really shines through. I know it’s hard to believe it, but this balancing game has an actual theme that works.

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It would be hard to imagine a balancing, dexterity game winning or even being nominated for a Spiel des Jahres nowadays. In its illustrious history, the Spiel was and has never been given to a dexterity game since Villa Paletti won it in 2002. It’s a big honour for an otherwise forgotten game these days. If you’ve ever been curious to try it out, you’ll find it on our shelves right by Jenga, Bandu and all the other usual suspects. of the genre.

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