Quadropolis has been on my wish list since it came out and I’m very excited to have the opportunity to play it and write a review on it!
It is a board game for 2-4 players, so I played with a group of 4, then just 2 in a one on one expert game.
Quadropolis has a fantastic box, it has organised places for almost all the cards to go. Once you have everything in the box organised correctly then the set up really doesn’t take too long.
You have your central board, individual boards, architect cards. All the building cards are kept separately as they are added to the board in 4 stages, 1 set of cards for each round. There are also little blue people and red energy blocks which you earn as you build.
The rulebook isn’t anything particularly special, and they still have a few vague ideas not really fleshed out, but it makes set up easy enough and we played without any major mishaps.
I think the only thing I’d really change with the aesthetic is the colours of the individual boards. This might seem silly, but they look a little washed out compared to the other pieces. It’s a small thing, but could make an improvement.
If you are playing with 4 people you do need a big table for the space, so I’d recommend starting there rather than the smaller coffee table, it won’t work.
The first play through with four, things get a little messy. There are a lot of cards (small square pictures on cardboard) which end up everywhere if you’re not sure where to put them. By the second game I was more prepared for keeping on top of this but beware.
How to Play
When it is your turn, you place one of your architects (if you’re playing the classic way) and place it on the big board. The number of the architect (you have 1-4) matches with the square number you wish to take a building from. So if I have architect number 3 I can place it anywhere around the edge of the board, and whichever row I’m on I take the third card from that row.
Except: If another architect is already in that space, or if the Urbanist (black figure which moves to the space when you take the card) is in a position where you would end up facing it, or if another of your architects is directly opposite. It ended up feeling a little like chess in the 2 player game. Your moves become so limited that you are trying to obscure your movements from your opponent while also trying to actually claim a building, which by round 3 might be impossible.
So, you’ve placed an architect and collected a building. It must be placed on your city board wherever there is a space numbered the same as your architect. A way of collecting points in the game is to set up your buildings in the most ‘effective’ ways, which are shown on your helper card. Similar to Townopolis the computer game, parks near apartments give more points etc. An interesting spin on this though is the energy mechanism. You collect energy from certain buildings once they are placed in your city, some buildings need energy to ‘activate’ them (to count their points to your total). This means that while yes, you could just concentrate on building your town without bothering about end of round scores and leave getting energy till later on, there’s is so much random chance to the card placement that it isn’t guaranteed you would get that opportunity.
But the really interesting thing about that is, if you have any surplus energy at the end it is classed as pollution which negatively effects your score. So you want enough energy, just not too much, which is a nice balancing act. Parks that have the energy symbol with a cross counteract this pollution.
At the end of each round, the board is cleared and the next round of cards are placed face down.
4 rounds with 4 turns each in the classic version, then 5 rounds with 4 turns in the expert version. Experienced gamers might be tempted to jump straight in at expert, and yeah it was definitely more challenging and fun, but my friend who hadn’t played before would have made some pretty game ending mistakes if I hadn’t pointed them out, and he read the entire rule book.
I really enjoy this style of game. You have the communal game aspect for the group, which has aspects of chance and dealing with other players moves affecting your outcome, but similarly you have your individual board which is your own doing. It’s enough to keep a bit of competitiveness to the game yet gets rid of the frustration I have when fellow players push the game in ways you aren’t enjoying.
I’ll be honest, the first play through might not be much fun if none of you have played before. There are interesting devices within the game which just might not be taken advantage of that first time. For instance the Mayor is given to a player at the beginning of the game, and they go first, which obviously gives them a huge advantage over say the 4th player, especially in the end rounds. Some cards also have a symbol on them meaning if you take that building you can also take the Mayor. Game changer! If I hadn’t taken the Mayor back at the end of the third round then I might have lost in the 2 player game. Plus the first play through is a lot of just “is this right?” looks around the table.
The second game was highly enjoyable! The communal board sort of became a chess board as we tried to out manaeover each other. Frustration over not double checking where the card would go on your board when you take it was the main issue I faced. Expert mode changes the nature of Architect cards, they become a collective pool rather than individual. It also adds Monuments and Office buildings to the game, but I didn’t find much use for them and I won. I like the idea they’ve had for them, but based on the model of population and energy requirements, they are a luxury you may not be able to afford.
You build a city, collect points for how well laid out it is, for having certain buildings in certain areas, minimising pollution and over population. There are enough game features and restrictions to set this apart from just another city building computer game, yet the enjoyment of it is enhanced rather than reduced.
I think this will be a game will be out many a rainy Sunday this winter!