Designed by: Aza Chen Published by: Pandasaurus Games Plays: 3-6 Players
Cat Tower is all about stacking adorable cats on top of each other. Each player takes turns adding their cats to the tower trying not to make it all topple over. Sounds easy enough but as the tower builds up any wrong movement could cause it to come crashing down. If you can get rid of all of your cats you win, but this will require a fair amount of coordination, luck, and skill. Will you be able to get rid of all your cats before the tower comes tumbling down?
How it plays:
At the beginning of the game each player starts with seven cats. The goal is to get rid of all seven of them by stacking them on the tower. On your turn you will roll a six sided die which has 5 different actions to take. You roll the die, take the action, then it is the next player’s turn. If at any point on your turn the tower falls down you clear off any cats that fell off the tower and add two of them back to your pile.
The different actions on the die are what spice up the game. The five different actions are to stack one cat (which is the only action on the die twice), stack two cats in a row, stack one cat upside down, make someone else stack one of your cats, and to add a Catty Fatty card to the stack along with a mystery cat token. Catty Fatty cards are just large flat cards that can help stabilize the tower while each token has an action on it that will affect the next player's turn. These can include skipping the next player's turn, reversing the turn order, redistributing each player’s remaining cats to equalize the playing field, or forcing the next player to a specific action instead of rolling a die.
If you knock over the tower and one of the special Cat Tokens also fall you have to take an additional cat back to your pile (The most you could ever take at once is three, two for knocking down the tower and one for a cat token falling with it). Also important to note that the player who is stacking the cat on the tower is the one who takes the penalty for knocking the tower over, so if you get to make someone stack one of your cats it puts all the risk onto the stacker instead of yourself.
Components - 8/10
The cat cards are nice and thick, which is important since you need to bend them. They feel nice and durable and have held up without any issues through a large number of plays but I could see wear and tear eventually becoming an issue. The action die is pretty large and wooden which feels very nice to roll. Only complaint here is that you do have to put stickers on for the different sides/actions. All of the cats on the various cards and even the box are adorable and very well done which makes the game easily stand out and just as easy to bring to the table.
Mechanics - 6/10
Cat Tower’s mechanics are nice and simple. Roll a die, do an action, end your turn. That being said there are a few issues. The rules are simple and straightforward but they could be a bit more specific, especially when talking about how to stack cats. Almost every time I have introduced this to a new player or group people have to ask if they can stack them specific ways. While this is easily solved by a quick group decision, it would still be nice if there was some reference or rule. The symbology is also somewhat more confusing than it needs to be, with different symbols on the tokens and the die which essentially mean the exact same thing. Still though, Cat Tower is supposed to be a light fun game and if you are someone who might get caught up in having to make a quick house rule then you might want to skip over this one.
Theme - 3/10
The Theme is cats and that is about it. I believe this is the very definition of a pasted on theme, where the artwork could be replaced by anything and still work. That being said the cute cat artwork really does add to the game. The different symbols for the different actions are themed around cats but still it is a bit of a stretch at times and I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t immediately look past the theme and immediately refer to the mechanics. For example It is not the cat getting a belly rub, it is simply stacking a card upside down.
Ease to Learn - 106+/10
Cat Tower is an incredibly simple game to teach. The only complicated part is the symbology which is easily mitigated by either having one player who already knows them and can just tell people what they roll, or keeping the rule book handy for the first game or so. Besides that the game is a breeze where anyone can sit down and be playing in a matter of minutes if not seconds.
Cat Tower attempts to be a quick, light, dexterity game and it succeeds quite well. It has been a hit every time with how much fun it brings while being a friendly and quick game to teach. The tension as the tower builds up and up makes the game always interesting, and with the different actions on the die and tokens there is never a time in which you are destined to fail. Cat Tower is a simple game but it is one we are very happy to have in our collection and will still be seeing a lot of play in our gaming future.
You might like Cat Tower if you like games which are quick and easy to teach, games that have a nice physical component to the mechanics, and always having a chance when others are certain you are doomed to fail.
You might not like Cat Tower if you don't like games that require a steady hand, have trouble when the rules do not tell you specifically what to do, or hate games where your turn can be completely skipped over.