Towers of Am'harb from Moaideas is an abstract area control game for 2-4 players. It features variable player powers with a Lovecraftian theme and a mathematical mechanic. Points are scored by controlling the altars spread across the board, with control determined by who has the most followers around each altar at the end of the game.
Placement of pieces each turn is determined by manipulation of your tower of four discs: like the famous Tower of Hanoi mathematical puzzle, each disc can never be placed on top of a smaller disc, which means you will need to plan ahead if you want to get your stack into a certain position to make a powerful move somewhere down the line.
If that sounds complicated, it isn't: Chu-Lan Kao has designed a game where the gameplay is actually very simple in terms of what you do on your turn, and there's no hidden information, making it chess-like in its scope for scheming and planning ahead. Working out how to best use your tower movement, your faction ability and the developing state of the game to your advantage is where the difficulty lies!
The theme is not critically important to the game. For those tired of endless Cthulhu-themed games, you needn't worry unduly about this being yet another, but if you enjoy the mythos then that may just enhance your appreciation of the game. Art is by Tansan Inc.
With the game ending in the round where a player places their ninth and final piece, and players able to place a piece most rounds, the game does not take long to play: 10 or so turns can indeed be played in the suggested 30-45 minutes, or much faster in a two-player game. You may finish up wanting to go again straight away, to try a different faction and a different strategy. If you're an enthusiast of variable setup 2-4 player abstract games with eight interesting different player powers, this is definitely one to check out!
(Review by Matt Young)