FTW Staff Picks - The Climbers

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. 

The Climbers

Genre: Racing

Designer: Holger Lanz

Player Size: 2 to 5 Players

Game Length: 45 minutes

For fans of: Santorini, 

Upon first glance, I presumed that The Climbers would end up being just another Jenga clone with some kind of Rhino Hero-style twist to it. And while the wooden blocks may feel reminiscent, The Climbers is actually a very different game altogether. The game sits somewhere between a puzzle and an abstract game with strong cutthroat elements. I can't help but compare the game to Santorini, in a more random and chaotic way.


In The Climbers, players compete to climb to the highest level of a wooden structure. On the current players turn they may move their pawn as many times as they legally can. They may also move and/or rotate 1 unoccupied block. Each player is also given a short and a long ladder, as well as a blocking disc which can all be used on their turn. Players may only move their pawn onto spaces that either match the colour of their pawn, or are of the neutral colour. Blocks may be placed anywhere, as long as one side of the block is completely touching one part of the main structure. The game ends when each player consecutively fails to move their pawn upward, and the player who reached the highest level first is declared the winner.

Because of the setup of the game, The Climbers creates unique situations for players to go through, despite keeping its core mechanics simple and unchanged. The games can go by quickly, and depending on the setup may end up a little predictable. After a while, players will begin to see what types of structures will lend itself to good games. The avenue to victory is not always clear. In The Climbers, players may literally have to forge a path to victory. And because the structure is shared amongst players, the ability to block and isolate players is key to winning the race.

With The Climbers, there's a lot of variety from game-to-game. It's kind of like a mash between Santorini and Kulami. And while it may not be the superior choice to both, it still finds a niche for groups looking for a warmup. It's not your conventional racing game, but those are few and far between. For what it is, I can't help but enjoy The Climbers as a unique experience for any type of gamer.

Earl OliverosComment