Over the past two years, our group has become more passionate about board games, and more people in the group are starting their own collections. This means that we often get to try new games, but not play them multiple times in a short period of time. The competition for which games we play is fierce. So we’re left with first impressions. Rather than let this restrict us, we’re going to embrace it. Quick, short first impression posts, followed up as we get more experienced with a particular game. Recently, Emmet did an excellent job of sharing his first thoughts on the game Last Will. This week, I’ll be doing the same, but for a different game: Quadropolis.
A recent acquisition having seen plenty of positive buzz online, I bought this without sinking too much time into researching it, which is unusual for me. From the enthusiastic descriptions I heard on a few different podcasts, I felt this would hit all the right notes in the different groups I play with. I wasn’t wrong; this has hit the table a few times in recent weeks. So far, I’ve only played the “classic” mode, rather than jump into the “expert” mode, but even then I find the game challenging and engaging.
As you would expect from a Days of Wonder production the component quality is fantastic. The tiles are nice and thick, the meeples are gorgeous, the art colourful and the insert is one of the best I’ve ever seen. To top it all off, there’s even a little slip of paper warning you not to throw out the empty cardboard punch boards, as if you put them under the insert it’ll get rid of the empty space and prevent everything from moving around. Great attention to detail, a nice touch and a very welcome one.
Gonna Build me a City…
The game itself is quite straightforward. Each player has 4 architects, numbered 1 to 4. In turn order, you place one of your architects pointing at either the row or column of the central board, which is a 5×5 grid full of buildings. If you placed your No. 1 architect, you take the building first in that row/column. If you placed your No. 2 architect, you take the building second in that row/column.
Then you place it in your own city, which is a 4×4 grid. If you used you’re No. 1 architect, you have to place the building in row or column no. 1. Sounds a bit like an Excel spreadsheet, but trust me, it’s much more fun than that! Buildings will often generate people or energy, which you need to activate certain other buildings. Activated buildings score at the end of the game. Which is where the crunch comes in. Each building scores differently: housing scores higher if you place multiple housing tiles on top of each other; factories score points for each adjacent shop and harbour; harbours score when they’re touching other harbours; and shops score more points the more meeples that are placed on them.
Shallow as the Sea
The depth of the game comes from trying to time your actions, when to take what buildings and where to place them. It’s a lovely, simple little puzzle, that wraps up in about an hour. It’s a pretty tactile experience, as those previously mentioned tiles are so big and chunky, they have a real heft in your hand, similar to the feeling you get from hefting a stack of gems in Splendor. There’s also a nice amount of spatial thinking as you try to figure out what building to put where and how they all move and connect in the space you have on your board.
You might think that such a dry theme doesn’t lend itself to telling a good story, but you’d be surprised. The players in the games I’ve played often look at each other’s cities and laugh by some of the absurd things that get built: why is your park next to the factory and so far away from your apartment blocks? Why do you have so many shops and no one to go to them? You get the idea. Giggles all round at our failed attempts at city planning.
Does it actually feel like planning a city though? Well, I’ve never planned a city, so I can’t really say, but I can imagine a city planner’s thoughts going something like this: “Well, if I put some residential there, then the shops might benefit, but then it’ll block off this harbour from more expansion. Ah, but I can’t expand the harbour any more, because I don’t have the right architects. But if I put a factory there…” If that’s what city planners think like, well, then the game accurately captures that!
This game’s aesthetic might appear young, but at it’s heart beats a well designed, engaging game that will appeal to children and adults alike. Trying to plan out your city, what you want to score and how, what to get and when, and being flexible enough to adapt to the changing array of available buildings make this game quite the brain burner. I think it’ll be a keeper, something that will endure many plays. If we ever get tired of the ‘classic’ mode, then we’ll always have the ‘expert’ mode to try and challenge us. This was a spur of the moment purchase, but I’m sure it’ll spur some great games and memories for our group.