5 highlights why building blocks are still brutally cool to play with, The Climbers Review.

As alluded to in the title, we are going to have a look at the brutal, yet very cool board game The Climbers by Capstone Games. In this seemingly simple game, you may end the night with fewer friends or family as to where you took off from. Besides that little thing, you will have a great tactical strategy puzzle in front of you. With just 5 player accessible colors and 1 neutral color, you will build your way up into the sky. Who will reach the top first and who will stay there? Don’t think this is a lovely kids game where you will have fun, There will be blood. (this could be seen as a cross-reference to another Capstone title, can you guess which? )

Deviant art from Supajoe There Will be Blood movie
Deviant art from Supajoe

Holger Lanz seems to be a one-time designer and if you can kick off your board game designer career which such a beauty, we hope he will do a whole lot more designs. Konstantin Vohwinkel worked on some other titles, Halloween and Keyflower for example, and did a lovely job on the box cover. It’s almost like one of those posters at the dentist where you will find a new scene every time you look at it.

The games play two to five players and will take you about 45 minutes to finish. Age depends on the child’s development, but 8 and up seems quite on target.

The Climbers by Capstone Games and Simply Complex

The flow of the Game

The main thing you will be thinking about is how can I go up, how can I block others from doing so and how don’t I get stuck myself on subsequent turns due to earlier decisions. If you are in the understanding it’s just stacking of some blocks, you are wrong, very wrong.

On your turn:

  1. You may move across or up (not down) as much as you want (using ladders for this is fine) and is legal (no diagonals, not on blocks with a blocking token, only on your color or white)
  2. You may move or rotate a block that does not have a player token or a blocking token on it. It needs to follow the same placement rules as set up.
  3. Move again just like the first time.
  4. Other players in turn order complete their move during your turn, a sort of free action.
  5. The next player on the left follows this same flow and
    the game ends if each player takes a turn without anyone moving up.

The Climbers by Capstone Games and Simply Complex blocks and wood

The Climbers by Capstone Games and Simply Complex blocks and wood

The Climbers by Capstone Games and Simply Complex blocks and wood

The Climbers by Capstone Games and Simply Complex blocks of wood in three heights

When the Dutch and French meet at the foot of the mountain

So we introduced the game to my sis and her hubby, our French connection, to get our experiences with the higher player counts too. No, that isn’t like The French Connection movie with Gene Hackman, but when we think about, he did win two games and stabbed me nicely in the back when he could? But, maybe it is just the game playing up…

The French Connection movie

Board games are fun with Capstone Games The Climbers and Simply Complex

Board games are fun with Capstone Games The Climbers and Simply Complex. Player pieces and ladders

Board games are fun with Capstone Games The Climbers and Simply Complex. Player pieces and stacks of blocks

Highlights

  1. star You can play it with anybody, there’s almost no threshold to enter.
  2. star Everybody loves to build, kindergarten feeling guaranteed here.
  3. star If you ever wanted to throw friends or family down a cliff? It will give you the chance to do it here in a figurative way of course.
  4. star The player interaction is through the roof here and there isn’t even one present.
  5. star It presents tactical and strategic choices in a delightful brutal way.

Lowlights

  1. Fire Another obvious one, but it still is just an abstract.
  2. Fire The components in our copy were already a little scratchy from the start and it will wear over time more. But it’s a game, right?
  3. Fire The rules, while being short, do lack some and leaves some questions unanswered or unclear.

The criteria on which we base most of our opinions, but isn’t the end all and be all.

d10-1 Does it play well with 2?
It plays two players, but it isn’t the most interactive and it gets stale quite soon. We think the sweet spot is at the higher player counts.

d10-2 Does it suit one of our game groups (D&D, Heavy games, thematic games, etc.) or can I bring nongamers in or take it to others? It is a thinky filler, but one which is very inviting to all sorts of players. It’s good with mom, my thematic brother liked it and we as omnigamers also found this a great option to play between heavier games or as social experience when gaming is secondary.

d10-3 Does it come with a solo variant? No! That would be a little awkward.

d10-4 How are theme and mechanics tied in together?
Well you are climbing and so you go up, but the theme is of course very secondary here.

d10-5 Does my collection need this? What stands out?
(New mechanics? better integration of x? new theme? etc.) 100% it does. It looks great on the table, it plays such a broad scale of people and it brings something unique to the table. We do own something like Rhino Hero for building, but that’s less confrontation and more for only the waves of laughter. Climbers will bring some serious faces to the experience too.

d10-6 And how is the rsp?
The price on The Geek goes from a cheap 35$ up until 100$, which is crazy expensive. Because of the hefty amount of wood in it, it won’t be cheap production, but somewhere between 40 and 50 would seem like a nice price for what you get for it. We imported it from the States and got hauled last Essen for around that price from the Capstone website.

hands on board game review of the Climbers by Capstone Games and Simply Complex Boxcover

So what is our conclusion? Go find a copy if you can and add it to your collection. It’s an instant classic in our household for those filler evenings or when gaming is meant to be secondary. But that said, it does have teeth and can bite you hard. The table-talk will be high on this one and if you love that, it’s something we will highly recommend. Two player isn’t the best count, so keep that in mind.

El Crosso A board game life rating

Thanks for dropping by, sticking all the way to the end and we immensely love you for it!

~ Marlon

Simply Complex by Capstone Games logo

As a side note, Capstone Games will launch their second game from the Simply Complex line the 11th of April! The Estates

Kickstarter the Estates by Capstone games and Simply Complex

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21 Thoughts

  1. Hey Marlon,

    dank u wel for your review! Boah, ey – that gives me the shivers. You must know, I had the idea for the game at the marriage-party of my brother. I sat in the room from my nephew (back then about 1 1/2 years old) in-between loads of wooden bricks and thought about “why not making a game of that tree-stuff?”. Now my nephew is 23 and the relaunch of my game is a full success – since about 6 months …

    Yeah – and did ya know that there´re some dutch guys bringing this year an own edition?

    Greetings to the tulips from Frankfurt, Holger

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Holger! Such an honour to hear from you and that story is just fantastic!!! I will send my regards to the tulips! And no, I did not know that there will be a reprint coming. Will try and find out who. Again, we love the game and many thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Like

      1. Hi there,

        Clay told me that there´s a dutch distributor for BeNeLux and he´s bringing about 5000 copies The Climbers. But don´t ask me who and when exactly …

        Liked by 1 person

      2. He is not the fastest in giving feedback. With two little kids and one convention after an other it´s lucidly. But also annoying when you need fast answers …

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s no problem that I don’t have the answer right away. I will wait for it. I almost certainly will buy the game. Really my style of boardgame. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah – and I really want that you receive it. I also want, that all gamer know it and will buy it. Of course it´s worth a buy. ;D
      One thing is, that Cpastone Games is settled in USA and the weight of The Climbers is about 3 Kg. That will be a pretty high postage to Europe. On the other hand: The Climbers´s relaunch was set in octobre 17 – now about 1/2 year. That´s not too long ago. Now we see that there´s a really big requirement and also the second edition of the 2nd edition will be sold out soon. I also await a sending with about 20 – 30 copies. (and don´t have a clue, when they are coming or they are on the way)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi! I have the Climbers in my possession! First played it this evening. Really liked it and so did my wife. Looking for possible moves to win from her next time :-D.

        Last weeks the game was for sale from 999 games in multiple stores in Belgium.

        Is it an idea to think of an expansion for the game? I’m already thinking of buying more for it… That’s a good sign?

        Thank you so much for the great game.
        Maarten.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi!

        Yeah, and it´s nominated in NL for Spel van het Jaar! Coo hoo oohoo l! I ´m invited to a con in Eindhoven next week weekend (10 . and 11.11.). There is also my handcrafted Monster Climbers – 5 times the size of that you own. Maybe we meet there …??? I would sign (of course!) your copy.
        And yes, there´re expansions coming.
        One more thing: Try this out! Place only the 2 core-blocks and make your choice from the stock and later from the ready set blocks.

        Best regards, Holger

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Next week on Sunday maybe a possibility to go to the con. Is it at Spellen Spektakel, Beursgebouw In Eindhoven?

        I’ll try with only the two core blocked next time.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Hi!

        Aaah, that´s the name of the con? When 999games has a booth there, then you´re right … I didn´t got it really. I also can´t find anything on www. Bert from 999g had a meeting with me in Essen and invited me. BR Holger

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Just wanted to let you know the we will be attending Spellenspektakel in Eindhoven on Sunday. We will be there from around 10 am.
        You’ll be present at the ‘999 games’-stand on sunday?

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Hi!

        I will be there. My train leave sunday 19:15 direction Frankfurt.
        I am the old fart with white short hair wearing some strange T-Shirt and big belly.

        See ya around!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. BTW: Now that The Climbers are available, maybe you know someone else who owns a copy. Ask her / him to put yours and his together. Why? Then you can play with up to 10 players!

    Here´re the rules:
    6 / 8 / 10 p > teams of 2 (same color)
    – you can start the game also with only placing the 4 core-blocks
    – every player gets his 3 items
    – the players of the same colors are starting opposite to each other at the foot of the core-block
    – when they meet on the same block, they can cooperate and share their items
    – at the end not the highest player (position!!!) wins, the team with most points wins > each step = 1 point, add the points the team has reached

    Try out! NOW!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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