Quadropolis is a light to medium weight Euro style game. Think of it as a board game version of the early Sim City video games. It was designed by François Gandon. The art by Sabrina Miramon. For 2-4 players. The play time is from 30-60 minutes and it is published by Days of Wonder.
Days of Wonder only releases one new game every year. They tend to be good with stellar production quality so their games are eagerly anticipated. In fact, they were the first board game publisher to raise the bar component wise. Now, quality components and high production values have become a norm in the board gaming industry (for most companies). I own two of their games: Ticket to Ride – Germany and Smallworld (with quite a few extra races). I love and enjoy playing both of them. The production quality of both is high. Quadropolis showed up on my radar when it was announced. City building games are pretty rare in board gaming. Until this point, I had only played one other, Suburbia.
If you have ever played a video game like Sim City you pretty much have the gist of Quadropolis. There are two versions in the box: a classic and an expert. The instructions say to play the classic first and then (once you are comfortable with the game) try the expert mode. I would follow that advice. Only the classic mode with be covered in detail in this section.
At the start of the game, tiles are placed faced down on a five by five grid called the construction site. Certain ones are then removed depending on the player count. Then they are all flipped over. A first player is selected and they place one of their four architects next to the construction site. The architect markers are numbered (one to four) and denotes which tile is selected on the construction site. The first, second, third one etc. in the row or column from the edge of the board from where architect was placed. That tile is placed on the player’s board (their city) in the corresponding row or column according to the number on the architect marker. The player then collects any resources (people or energy) indicated on the tile. Some tiles require a resource/s to activate them, but you do not have to do this until just before the end of game scoring takes place.
Once a tile has been taken a grey pawn called the ‘urbanist’ is placed in the vacated spot. Then, it is the next player’s turn. They place their own architect along side the construction site as long it does not cover another one or it points to the urbanist. They place the acquired tile on their board according to the same rules and the urbanist moves too. Each player does this four times. The tiles are removed and a second set is placed on the board. Repeat this four times and that is the game. Simple, huh?
That is pretty much how the whole game plays. The crunch comes when you are trying to place your tile. You only have certain options available to you that soon narrows down as the game progresses. Different tiles only score if they are orthogonally adjacent to certain ones or another configuration e.g. harbours score more if they are adjacent to each other and all in the same column or row. The more in that line the higher the score. Public buildings score more if you place them in different districts (quadrants) of your board. The classic board has four districts indicated by their colour.
Expert mode adds an extra district, round and sky scraper tiles. The architects are from a pool rather than assigned to each player. There is also an architect with the number five. The scoring changes slightly too. It should not take long before you are playing in expert mode.
Days of Wonder maintain their high quality production ethos. The presentation is colourful, beautiful, well laid out and consistent throughout. The artwork is excellent and the iconography is clear.
The city and architect tiles and construction site are made from thick cardboard. The player boards and info cards are made from a thinner, but decent card. The pawns, energy and people tokens are made from a translucent plastic. They all look great on the table.
The instruction book is clear and well laid out. It is only eight pages long including expert mode. A thick scoring pad accompanies the game too. It also comes with a black cotton bag to pull the tiles out of. We just used it to give the tiles a good shuffle.
This is one of the rare times that I rave about the insert. The one in the box should be kept. All of the tiles have slots for each round including spaces for the classic and expert ones. The architects have their own places too. Having slots for each round makes the set-up time between rounds much shorter. There is even space for the ‘public services’ expansion under the score pad. The people and energy cubes would be stored in that space or on top in the bags supplied. There is quite a bit of breathing room above the insert where the punch cards used to sit. I stuck a couple of empty playing card boxes to the lid to hold the construction site board against the insert and therefore stop the pieces coming out when the box is upright or being transported.
Drafting tiles and placing them is nothing new, how Quadropolis does it with the architects and the urbanist is (as far as I know). You have to be careful which one you use and in which order. You can be blocked by the other players and the urbanist and this happens quite a bit towards the end of the round. Your choices can become very slim and sometimes you cannot play the tile or activate it so it scores.
Your turn comes around very quickly even at the higher player counts unless someone is bogged down with analysis paralysis. It is pretty easy to work out your options with the architect you have. It is not an appreciable factor. In many instances, you would have just placed your tile and you look up. The previous player takes their tile, moves the urbanist and it is your turn again.
The scoring takes a bit to acclimatise to. After a few games it will be easy to work out. There is a help sheet for each player.
The game has moderate replayability. You can see after a few games it will feel a bit repetitive although you have a lot of scoring strategies you can try. Each round has a specific set of tiles that will be available for each player count, but where they will be will always change. There is also the expert mode (remove the classic and replace them with the expert ones) and a mini ‘parks’ expansion in the box. On top of all that the ‘Public Services’ expansion that would increase the replayability score. After my first game, I wanted to give the game another go to see if I could improve my score.
Value for money (4/5)
Days of Wonder are once again consistent in this. This game will most likely stick around on your shelf for some time and it excellent for both new and experienced games. My other two DoW games are also excellent for that. Because of that it is excellent value for money. Anyone who loves Sim City will most likely wish to give this game a spin plus there are not many good city building games out there of this type. Competition for game time will be slim.
The theme is pretty strong in this game. You are not building the tiles from raw materials, but you do need to power or populate them. Stores need customers and residents like to have green spaces nearby. There are no airports, roads, rail roads, restaurants or stadiums, but this does not detract from the game. They may arrive in a future expansion. It does feel like a simplified Sim City game except you are playing against other people and not an algorithm.
The overall game, even at four players, does not have an awful lot of down time. The turns are quick, the game plays smoothly and well with no superfluous mechanisms. It is an easy game to learn although the scoring may catch you out first time. We found placing the resources required to activate a tile at the time of placement or when you acquired it was helpful. Any surplus could be stored at the side of your board. You will lose a victory point for every surplus energy or person at the end of the game. You need an energy efficient city with zero unemployment. Overall, the game is slick, streamlined and not overly convaluted. The game time is not too long either. It is about right.
Many of my friends are from abroad. Having a game where language is not a barrier or hinderence is a huge bonus. Apart from the numbers, there is no writing on any of the components.
A very likeable, versatile and enjoyable game for both new and seasoned players. It is not going to blow your mind, but few games do. As mentioned at the start, I have played Suburbia. Quadropolis is less complicated and far more colourful. The artwork and presentation is so much better. The box on the shelf will attract a browsing eye. Both games have their merits. Quadropolis has more flexibility regarding the people I would play it with. Suburbia is not one for gateway (people new to the hobby) players. I would with Quadropolis.
There is a healthy portion of strategy in the game too. From the go you have to decide what you are going to aim for. The first tile you pick and where you place it will have a strong influence on what else you will be able to do. Quite a few times my strategy was scuppered because another player took the tile I wanted and it was only one of that type available in the fourth round, but that is good in a game. Nothing is too predictable except this is a fun and solid game. Give it a go, Quadropolis will make welcome and ascetically pleasing addition to your game shelf.
Many thanks to Asmodee for supplying this review copy.
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