Published by IDW—best known as the English language publisher of Machi Koro—folloing a successful Kickstarter campaign, Cat Tower is the dice rolling, dexterity game of cat stacking designed for between two and six players, aged six and up, and playable in no more than twenty minutes. It requires no set-up and so can be brought to the table quickly and easily.
It comes in a bright and breezy cat-themed cube of a box inside of which can be found two rulebooks, forty-two stackable Cat cards, twelve Fatty Cat cards, five dice, and twelve cat tokens. One rulebook gives the full rules, the other a pair of variants, but neither runs to more than three pages. The three dice are wooden and an inch square. Out of the box they are blank, so they do require various stickers to be applied to each of their faces. Each of the cat cards measures 2¼ by 3½ inches and is scored across its width twice such that when folded, it will stand up. One of the things a player will need to do is fold his cats when it is not his turn. The Fatty Cards are the same size, but are flat and do not have the same score lines and so do not need to be folded. Both the Cat cards and the Fatty Cat cards depict a cute cat—a very cute cat.
At the start of Cat Tower each player receives seven cat cards. One cat card is placed in the middle of the table as the base of the tower. The first player is always determined by whomever has the most cats (which usually means myself or my partner). On his turn a player rolls a die and does what the symbol on the result instructs. This can be to stack ‘One Cat’ or ‘Two Cats’; to get another player to stack one of his cats with ‘Cat Paws’; to stack a cat card upside down with ‘Dried Fish’; and place a Fatty cat on the tower and flip a token. The tokens force play order to be reversed with ‘Turn Around’; the next player to skip his turn with ‘Skip’; all of the remaining unplayed Cat cards to be redistributed between the players with ‘All Cats are Equal’; or force another player to stack one the current player’s Cat cards with ‘Cat Paws’. Any token played in this fashion is placed on the Fatty card when it is added to the tower.
Play continues until one player has managed to stack all of the Cat cards from his hand. At this point, he is either declared the winner or if multiple rounds are being played, the other players receive a penalty point for each of the Cat cards they still hold in their hands. After the agreed number of rounds have been played, the player with the fewest points is declared the winner.
Of course, a game will never progress as smoothly as that. If a player knocks a Cat card off the tower whilst stacking a Cat card, he must take two cards from the tower into his hand. If he knocks a Cat token off the tower, he takes back an additional Cat card into his hand. If another player is placing the current player’s Cat card on the tower after a ‘Cat Paws’ die result or token, it is placing player not the current player who has to take the Cat cards back into his hand.
Physically, Cat Tower is a very attractive game with simple, cute components. The only issue is with Cat cards that might not fold very well.
Cat Tower is quick and easy and very, very light. It is undemanding and simple and it is unpretentious. It is also cute and pretty and overall a lovely little package. It is certainly worth having on the shelf for games sessions with the family. More dedicated gamers though are not going to want to bring this to the table very often. Overall, fluffy feline fun, Cat Tower is a family filler game that plays quickly and easily.