GTM #215 - Castell
by Aaron Vanderbeek

Castell is the vibrant Catalonian tradition of building human towers. Huge teams of people from all over Catalonia gather at festivals to celebrate Catalonian culture and compete to build the highest and most difficult human towers. In this strategy game, you will guide your Castell team through a year of competitive festivals. Visit Catalonian cities, expand your team of Castellers, learn tower-building skills, and show off your tower-building prowess at local performances and festival competitions.

Harness your strength, balance, courage, and common sense to take your team to victory!

~ The Castell Tradition ~

The Castell tradition is approximately 400-years-old, and in the past 50 years has exploded in popularity as an expression of culture and a competitive sport. These days teams of hundreds of people (‘Castellers’) will train, year-over-year, to perfect the construction and deconstruction of impressive human towers, which are displayed at local events or competitions during festivals. The competitions are becoming well-documented with dramatic imagery and historic records being broken, though the impressive feats are largely missed by most of the world. Through a combination of research and help from some Catalonian board gamers, we’ve put together a well-crafted game that presents the Castell tradition in a fun and accessible manner.

Ossi Hiekkala, the illustrator, has meticulously crafted the art to be truly representative of Castell towers and the Catalonian cities in the game. As an experienced board game illustrator, he was deftly able to capture the modernity and tradition that is embodied by the practice of Castell with a bright color palette and attention to architectural detail.

~ Building Your Tower ~

Each player starts the game with a team of Casteller tokens, which may be organized into a tower based on some basic building rules. Through the course of 10 turns, each player adds Castellers to their team and taking a skill. Skills allow the player to bend the basic building rules to make even more impressive towers. Train your ‘Balance’ skill so you can build a higher tower, or the ‘Strength’ skill so your Castellers can supporty heavier levels of the tower. Every turn the player’s tower capabilities grow stronger, and with many opportunities to perform, the player must decide which scoring opportunities that will show off their current best tower.

~ Tower Competitions ~

There are two ways in which the player may use their Castell team to score points — Local Performances and Festivals. Any player may compete in a Local Performance at any time as long as they’re in the right city and can make the pictured tower with their Castellers. Festivals occur at the conclusion of a specific round, and are worth more if multiple players participate in the same festival. Participating in a festival means getting a score for your tower, which is based on the height and how well you meet the requirements of the festival. Players keep track of the best tower score throughout the game, so each player is encouraged to figure out which festival is going to be most opportune to get a massive tower score.

~ Thematic Expression ~

The makeup of Casteller tokens, skills, and game length were catered as such that the ultimate towers built in the game are very close in composition to the most impressive towers in real life. The highest Castell tower ever made is 10 levels high. This achievement can be recreated in the game, but it’s quite challenging! There’s an immense amount of variation in how towers are composed, which the players can explore with different combinations of skills.

~ Location, Location, Location ~

All of the elements players want in the game are linked to locations. Castellers, skills, performances, and competitions are all tied to the various Catalonian cities, so each turn will have the player finding the optimal path for increasing their tower capabilities while being present for the best scoring opportunities. This gives players a sense of strategic deduction without being overwhelming. With a few random setup elements, Castell feels like a new puzzle every time.

~ A Culture Worth Celebrating ~

In 2010, Castell was deemed by UNESCO to be amongst the Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. This incredible sport stands out as a tradition that celebrates inclusiveness and collective growth. Castell introduces fans to this unique activity with award-winning mechanics, strategic gameplay, and compelling art.


Aaron Vanderbeek is a veteran video game designer living in San Francisco and the designer of Castell. He is an avid world-traveller and board game enthusiast, always on the lookout for the next great theme to share with the world. He was also awarded the 2017 Cardboard Edison award, and was a finalist in the 2017 Hippodice design competition for Castell.