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Quadropolis: An Aficionado Review

Greetings loyal readers, and welcome to my review of Quadropolis!

Days of Wonder (DoW) are easily one of the most recognisable names in the board game world. You’ll be hard pressed to find a hobby gamer who hasn’t heard of Ticket to Ride, and other games like Small World are certainly of widespread repute throughout the industry. The way in which DoW have cultivated such a prestigious brand is through two major factors: outstanding component quality, and a slow trickle of great games as opposed to a splattering of mediocre ones. When you buy a DoW game, you’re in for a great time from the moment you open the shrink wrap.

It should come then as no great surprise that it gives me great pleasure to bring you my review on the only completely new game from DoW this year: Quadropolis by new game designer François Gandon (this is literally his first release!)

Many of the colourful buildings of Quadropolis splayed over the box cover.

So many colours! Many of the buildings on offer in Quadropolis. What will your city look like?

A brand new game and a brand new designer from a well established company? It certainly sounds like they were confident with this one. Let’s dive into the role of the mayor of a city and see if this job is really as great as it sets out to be.

 

Components

DoW have once again delivered well on the production side; the thick cardboard bits, colourful (if a bit bland) illustrations and the high quality meeple and barrels certainly don’t disappoint.  The game is very colourblind friendly,  and contains some simple iconography which, while not overly helpful for in-game purposes, does make explaining scoring for certain pieces simpler. Overall, it’s the same quality we’ve come to expect, but there’s no standout components. Everything is good, but nothing is exciting, except for:

The box insert included in Quadropolis. It features a perfect amount of space for everything, and everything is divided appropriately.

How to do a box insert correctly.

I know it might be a bit silly to get so excited over something that’ just used for storing the game. The fact is, however, that storing and putting away a game can be made incredibly tedious by poor boxes (Fantasy Flight Games is often the victim of such criticism). By minimising excise you’re never gonna have that feeling of dread when you need to set up or pack away the game. In fact, resetting the game and packing it up took the better part of two minutes for my playgroup! My only concern is that there isn’t really room for expansions, and I hate carrying around multiple boxes for one game.

The Aficionado was also impressed by how easy the rules were to read and understand. Easy to understand explanation accompanied by diagrams make explaining the game a breeze. As such, Quadropolis is a very easy game to get onto the table and teach to new players, even those with short attention spans.

+Same high quality bits we’ve come to expect from DoW

+Amazingly set out box insert.

+Well set out rulebook, functional and elegant.

~Nothing overly exciting or standout. Bits are all fairly standard (meeple, octagons and cardboard squares)

 

Gameplay

Quadropolis is an abstract city building game, where players act as mayors of a city under construction. During each round, players will take turns trying to acquire the buildings they need to create the highest scoring city they possibly can. However, as players send off their architects to start building, it starts getting really crowded. This in turn makes it increasingly more difficult to build the buildings you want, both due to your own city filling up and players, intentionally or unintentionally, blocking you. It’s a pretty classic Euro-style game, but the Aficionado found that the tension and blocking in the game definitely plays a major part of the experience.

The heart of the game is that players will take turns placing an architect around a 5 x 5 board. Depending on where they place their architect and on what number the architect is, they will obtain a different building and have to place that building onto a space on their board corresponding to the number of the architect. If you’re not quite sure you understand, have a look at this helpful three step visual guide to understand.

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Got that? Well, there’s a little bit more to it than that. After all, who is this Urbanist fella?

Well, in short, the Urbanist is an unpleasant guy or your best friend, depending on if you’re placing them or being blocked by them. When placing an architect, there are two rules you must follow. Firstly, you cannot place an architect so that it would point at the Urbanist. In the example above, the next player therefore could not place an architect in the third column or the opposite side of the second row. Secondly,  architects stay where they are until the end of the round. This means that other players cannot place architects on top of others’. As the board fills with architects and empty spaces, it becomes more and more likely that you may be unable to take buildings you want. You may even end up taking nothing at all! Sometimes it’s tough being a mayor.

In the classic game, players will be placing architects numbered one to four, in an order of their choice. Play alternates clockwise until players have placed four architects each, at which point the board clears and the next round begins. After four rounds, the game is over and players score their buildings. How, you ask? Well, that depends on the building and whether the building is powered or not. I won’t go into excessive detail, as there are many different ways they score. For example, Factories like being near Harbours and Shops, while Tower Blocks like being stacked on top of each other.

Each of the buildings you can build in the game.

(Top) Park, Factory, Shop
(Mid) Public Services, Harbour, Tower Block
(Bot) Office Tower, Monument

When you select a building, it grants you the resources in the top left hand corner. Whilst these do nothing until the end of the game, I would advise that you collect them as you go. The life of a mayor is tough, and being able to visually manage your pieces makes it much easier. In the bottom right corner, buildings require resources in order to be powered, with only parks (and monuments in the expert game) not requiring anything. If you cannot power the building then that building will not score!

Stress not, however, as you’re not required to assign your resources until game end, allowing you to optimise in case you come up short. Interestingly, the game also encourages you to “waste not”; for every excess person or energy you produce, you lose a point. The people of Quadropolis dislike overcrowding and excess pollution, much like we do. After powering buildings and scoring points for them, as well as losing points due to your excess, the winner is the player with the most points.

A city in Quadropolis at game end. It scored 54 points.

My second ever city, which took the second game with a score of 54. It certainly is satisfying to see your city nice and finished 🙂

That’s already quite a bit of game, but there are actually two different game modes: Classic and Expert. The Aficionado is normally one to just jump straight into expert, but he found Classic to be more than deep enough already. In fact, Expert appears to be more of a hardcore variant than a more complete game. There are significant differences between the two, so much in fact that I can easily see both modes seeing play as almost separate games.

At first, in spite of Quadropolis‘ simple mechanics, it was really difficult to grasp exactly what to do. Early on, the Aficionado and his pals felt a bit overwhelmed, aimlessly taking moves with no sense of long term strategy. However, after two rounds, the gears in everyone’s heads began turning and the tension of each decision became very evident. In the end, the first game was very tight, with first and second needing a tiebreak, and third only a point behind!

One concern of Quadropolis is that it could certainly induce analysis paralysis. Every move in the game is crucial, and there are a lot of possible moves at any given time. I personally don’t find this to be a huge issue, but if you play with people prone to analysing every single possible move at all times, this otherwise short game may overstay its welcome. Other than that, the game features some well implemented tension and puzzle solving into an unimposing and relatively short game.

+Interesting and difficult puzzles to solve each and every move.

+City building is enjoyable, and long-term planning is rewarded.

+Easy to understand and learn, coupled with short playing time.

+Innovative core mechanic that creates a lot of tension.

+Two modes of player, but neither is lacking.

~Scoring is not obvious.  Keeps players invested, but makes decision making harder.

-Prone to analysis paralysis.

-Can feel surprisingly mean sometimes.

 

Conclusion

Much like DoW‘s other title Five TribesQuadropolis plays like a large, complex, multi-layered puzzle. I thoroughly enjoyed what was on offer here, and this is  one  I’ll keep in my collection. The mechanics and depth of the game will keep me coming back for more, and the theme is very family friendly. For those who enjoy simple mechanics with deep replayability and puzzle style games, this foray by François Gandon will offer a tonne of fun.

The Aficionado was very impressed by this game.

Grade: A

Interested in some of the games mentioned in this article? You can find them here:

 

European Machines and Havoc in Space: The Latest Hotness

It’s not a secret that tabletop gaming has been experiencing tremendous growth for a number of years now, and whether you like it or hate it, Kickstarter has definitely been a large source of this. From allowing new designers to come out of the woodwork, to  acting as something of a pre-order system for established companies, opinions on Kickstarter games tend to be a very mixed bag. Today, we’re going to be looking a little deeper at two of the hottest upcoming games, Scythe from Stonemaier Games and Cry Havoc from Portal games, both of which fall into the broad category of area control games, and both of which have garnered huge attention this year.

Before we get into that, let’s take a brief look at the genre as a whole. As the name would imply, area control games are about just that. That being said, it’s difficult to think of the secret bidding game Revolution, the very Euro style El Grande and the mythical creature combat heavy Kemet as being part of the same genre. And yet, they all share the same basic idea; controlling areas yields you victory points (or other helpful benefits. Generally speaking, you want the most (or only) pieces in a space on the board. The diversity of the genre is leaps and bounds greater than games in other genres which tend to fall into tropes, but that is not to say that there aren’t dangers and pitfalls which certain area control games, particularly those involving combat, can fall victim to.

Scythe is  economic at heart, with combat still relevant but taking a back seat. The importance of area control comes from accessing resources on the board; area control is the means to the end, not the ends itself, as it is in other games. In fact, combat loses you popularity in the game, with low popularity limiting the amount of points you are able to score at the end of the game. This tension is of a truly different flavour to many other games, which promote constant conflict and invasions, and instead places much more weight onto the decision of which areas are important to control and whether they are worth the sacrifice.

Scythe, an area control game from Stonemaier Games

A game of Scythe in progress. The game really comes with some exquisite bits and pieces!

Cry Havoc falls into the category of games which promote constant combat, but don’t be fooled into dismissing it as too simple; clever implementation of deckbuilding and hand management had me intrigued (deck building games where deck building is not the whole game, such as Mage Knight or A Study in Emerald, are some of my favourites) but what I cannot wait to try out is the innovative combat system contained in Cry Havoc. In fact, from the sounds of it, it could be one of the simplest yet deepest combat systems in a game ever. Like Kemet, destroying all of your opponent’s units doesn’t necessarily win you the area, and in the same vein, it is not necessary to destroy all of your opponent’s units to win the battle. It’s no secret that one of the common pitfalls of area control games with combat related themes is the tedious, bogged down combat. As Kemet (and likely other games) before them, both Scythe and Cry Havoc have quick, simple yet rewarding systems of combat.  

While many games tend to offer small helpings of differing player powers (such as the aforementioned Kemet, where you slowly acquire unique powers over the course of the game, or Blood Rage, where the powers afforded to you each round change), Scythe and Cry Havoc begin ambitiously, with wildly varied player setups, powers and even ways to achieve victory. Scythe goes a step further than Cry Havoc in this sense, with twenty-five possible combinations of player power combinations in the base game (though my understanding, having not played the game, is that it’s the faction differences that are the largest, and there are five of those). Cry Havoc comes in with a modest four factions, though the differences between them are, again, vast.

Cry Havoc, an area control game from Portal Games

The Trogs of Cry Havoc are out in full force!

I for one am incredibly eager to try out both of these hot new area control games, but for entirely different reasons. With Scythe, the novel upgrade system and interesting mesh of area control and resource management, coupled with ever present threat of combat certainly entice me. Cry Havoc, on the other hand, offers a much more focused and what you may call “traditional” area control experience, but the impression I have leads me to think that they’ve merged the best of the old with some new twists; a combination with the potential to become a new golden standard for the area control genre.

Check out some of the games that I mentioned in this blog!

Toy and Games Expo 2014 and the Australian Boardgames Championships ACT

Toy and Game Expo 2014

2014 looks like its going to be a big year for the Toy and Game Expo. After a huge attendance last year, TAG14 looks like it will be the biggest one yet. Heaps of new exhibitors like Moose Toys will be there and there is the usual huge amount of board games to play and too buy.

We plan to bring a bigger and better stall this time around with the usual awesome selection and value prices.

Check out what else is on: http://www.toyandgameexpo.com.au/

Join in on the 5-6th of July!

Australian Boardgaming Championships

Think you are hot in Carcassonne, Dominion, Ticket to Ride and Settlers? There is only one week left to try your hand in the ACT Family Tournaments.
Prizes include paid trip and accommodation to the Australian Boardgames Championships during TAG14 in Sydney.
Play with the best and see how well you go. I also hear that the winner of the Ticket to Ride Championships gets offered a trip to Paris.

Live in the ACT? Check out the details here: http://tournaments.toyandgameexpo.com.au/index.php/act-family-tournaments

Join in on the 20-21st of April!

Living the Game!

Christmas is in full swing and we are constantly restocking and adding new games to ensure the freshest batch of games this Christmas season.

Live the Game!

A bit earlier in the year we started a video making contest with Brand Honee. Budding film makers were urged to send in their best vids of what it is like to ‘Live the Game’.
Check em here : http://www.brandhon.ee/Project/live-the-game-9

They are all awesome videos and I am really digging the fantasy quest theme. That’s pretty much how I feel everyday: like a wizard.

 

Personal fav is here

We would love to thank all those who contributed and voted. This was an amazing achievement and it looks like its going to be a hard contest to judge.

Whats new!

Way new additions from Sirlin Games, Flash Duel and Puzzle Strike is now instock.

Scratch that deck building itch with Resident Evil Deck Building Game Mercenaries. It adds one of my favourite characters Rebecca Chambers into the mix which is always awesome.

For all you Penny Arcade fans we also have limited quantity of their Paint The Line series of Cold War card play. This looks like a faster themed complement of Twilight Struggle of which I am a major fan of!

 

What’s Restocked?

Cathedral is back in stock, the classic city moving game now has a new box and better playing pieces.

After a quick sell, Can of Worms and Test Match Cricket is now back in stock all held orders have been completed.

Post Gen-Con World

Gencon has come and gone and that means one thing…HYPE!

What’s new ?

While there is a lull right before the swathe of Gen- Con releases, the wait is pretty much over.


New Warhammer 40 000 boxed set – Dark Vengeance . Did you see those models? The detailing is just sick. I do like it how they are creating a sort of board games-esque experience where you can get playing as quickly as possible. They are really making awesome stand out sets now starting from Assault on Black Reach.

The Hobbit: Over hill and Under hill. At least this isn’t being extended to a trilogy. The Lord of the Rings Card Game was always one breaking Card game conventions, but  I never knew if it was one to have legs.  These sets need to really affirm what Lord of the Rings LCG can do with the mechanics and it has been a great journey. At least in Over hill and under hill they are pushing the mechanics of their system to the fullest. Time will tell if this series will reach a competitive state or just a fan favourite for casual play. Really needs an Epic mode or something.

Leviathan: Massive box filled with flying dreadnoughts. Sign me up. Actually surprised me with the 1/1200 scale models as I thought there was just going to be stand ins.

Dominion Dark Ages : Still have to try it out so good thing I’m gaming over the weekend!

 Whats Hyped!


After eagerly watching Gencon happenings from my Tumblr and Boardgamegeek I could pretty much assure you that Netrunner is pretty much a big deal. Netrunner could be the real boost that FFG needs to bring their LCG series to full competitive status to rival the TCG format. Not to say that it would happen overnight but there seemed to be enough movement of Netrunner to validate the claim that it is the biggest card game related decision this year. Mind you Return to Ravnica is not out yet.
Seasons also sold out very quick which can only mean good things from the same studio that brought you 7 Wonders. Finally the last stand out would be Mice and Mystics which was demo only and seems to be piggy backing the Mouse Guard wave. Plaid Hat( Summoner Wars anything) has been a quality studio and I’m sure they are going to bring that professionalism to a miniature title.

What I Played

Have a new white board near the gaming table so people can record their greatest triumphs.  NOT an exercise in narcissism.


Infiltration : Pretty much a themed version of Incan Gold. Sort of has that tension though Incan Gold’s simplicity lends itself alot of strength. I still like playing Infiltration as it is fast and exciting. Just use Extract and reduce the floor sizes from 6  to 5.

Twilight Struggle : Watched my friends play and saw the entire world swing back and forth. In the end the US couldn’t influence a decolonized Africa and a domino fallen Asia to lead USSR ascendant into an alternate future.

Olympus : Keyaerts dealing with what he deals best. A limited space and limited time game. Very tight gameplay but large decisions means that this game will take longer than you think it will despite the simplicity. The BOX LIES just like Evo, expect 2- 3 hours.

Dystopian Fortress Ankh- Morpork

What’s Up?

SALLLLEEEEEEEE!


Preorders!

Nearly all stock is 15% off; which is crazy!
It is only for one week though so quickly finish those lists and pick up the games you want on the cheap!

Quarmageddon for all you Quarriors out there

Dixit Journey and Eclipse is now Out of Preorder and all preorders have been sent last week.

Mind you Eclipse is moving really fast and we might be out of stock soon of the monster.
Fingers crossed I get to play Eclipse this weekend

*end Hype

 

What’s New?

Dystopian Wars will slowly be integrated into the website as we love to support this cool line of miniatures. Maybe I will even update the blog with the painting of the Prussian Fleet.

 

Some awesome stock from Treefrog games such as;
Discworld Ankh Morpork Collectors edition!
What we Played!

Fortress America.

 

Lasers.
Lasers, everywhere.

This game is nuts and tons of fun. Definitely play it with the single invader victory rules to make the game extremely frantic.

 It is a weird dudes on a map game which really emphasises risk management. The game looks so stilted against the US player but eventually the wheel will turn against the Invaders. The invaders have to really throw themselves at the laser batteries to even stand a chance against the US defenders.

Can’t wait to try Eclipse

Nazgul Planeschasing Runelord Nomads

What is New?

For preorders we are putting their prices on sale. What does that mean for you guys? Cheaper games if you grab a preorder before
the prices change when the product comes into stock.


Preorders!

WizKids Lord of the Rings Nazgul: Coming out next week

Paizo Pathfinder Battles Rise of the Runelords: Coming out soon

New Stuff!

Terraclips: Too make warzones and skirmish areas with!

Magic the Gathering Planeschase 2012 Decks:  Jump in and change the way you play magic and get a glimpse of all the different worlds.

Kingdom Builder Nomads expansion: It adds heaps more stuff for Kingdom Builder which looks like a sure fire candidate for the illustrious
Spiel Des Jahres!

 

What we played

This week was pretty busy so I didn’t get to hunker down and play too many games.


Most interesting was Merchants and Marauders which is becoming a favourite but it is a hefty game to play especially if you were looking to only play for a short amount of time.
Mind you the entire game my pseudonym proceeded to achieve nothing and sink/drown from port to port. Only in the last turn of the game did I rally and marched from zero points to 4 in a ship slaying swathe across the Caribbean.

Looking forward to the weekend for some games of Race for the Galaxy and Here I Stand!
I love Race which was making strides as a tableau builder before newer games like Innovation emerged. The deckbuilder craze started and amazing card games like Race for the Galaxy disappeared to make room for the new mechanic. Still an amazing game to play and with a new expansion coming out, now is a good time to check on this old classic.

Miniature Mayhem

What’s New

What we played:

Weekend was hectic as I tried to get Virgin Queen played twice. The players got cold feet at the scope and majesty of such and endeavour leaving us to play smaller games.

Bloodbowl Team Manager: Quite a game, still iffy at the strength of the staff upgrade cards and the length of play. Ends up being a longer game than you would expect but makes it up by being a deeper game than you think it is. Alot of fun decisions especially if they all are ” Lets hit that dude”.


Merchant and Marauders: Three players leaves alot of space to not be marauded and for you to do routes however all bets are off after a player grabbed a 2nd turn Galleon. Pyoo Pyoo went some navy ships and the sound you can hear is all the merchants trying to tack as far away as possible from the obviously superior ship. This game begs to ask why choose a Frigate over a Galleon. Have to check the BGG for any alternative rules for the frigate as we saw Galleons blow through them quite quickly.

Legend of the Five Rings CCG: Trying to teach people to play a new CCG when they already know Magic the Gathering is a bit confusing. Lots of actions being done in INSTANT SPEED and people wondering about this mysterious open action. I am loving the dynamics of the game and the strategy. I hope it is as fun to draft as it is to play and I am feeling the itch for more fast 2 player games. Which brings me to…

A Few Acres of Snow: Hopefully another game of this  during the week or maybe its CDG cousins (Twilight Struggle and Labyrinth)
Revolver: Still a game can’t wait for those inevitable expansions…hint hint!

Virgin Queen: … A non event. Maybe this weekend…Question mark?

A Few Acres of Games

New Loot

Monsuno: New trading card game I want to try out to see what they bring to the table: Looks like it will fit that Yu Gi Oh itch for the young gamers.
Catan Junior: Speaking of new gamers, new Catan game aimed at the younger side of games. New mechanics and a cool ghost pirate robber figurine which I now need in my collection( New Space race Counter!)

Abaddon: Sci Fi Battlelore for Richard Borg which is a thematic hit as nothing is as cool as walking behemoths vomiting out lasers

Magic Playmats: Tapping and Styling ! Nothing feels just as good as throwing down with a play mat. Ensure your expensive sleeves don’t get any dirt on them. I’m sure you open more creature kill when you draft with a playmat (not guaranteed)

 

 

 

Week in Review

 

Powergrid Maps and Zooloretto expansions are on Sale. Heaps reduced and should check them out if you want to grow Panda’s in a nuclear powered Chinese zoo.

Android Netrunner = All My Hype

 

That equals 4 different LCG’s I will have to  support…
HAVE TO…

 

State of Play


Not many games at all but I did  manage to get an old gaming buddy to play some war games  this week, just like old times.

We tried that hyped up deck builder, A Few Acres of Snow, designed by one of my favourite auteurs; Martin Wallace.
While we loved playing Brass it was interesting to see what wargame concoction he could brew up; especially using the deck building mechanic.

What we expected was a some Twilight Struggle esque event deck constructing game.
What we did get was Dominion with a board.

Not to say that it was a bad thing. You could we there was a lot of depth and clever deck management mimicked empire building. A quick take of Halifax allowed me to use Her Majesty’s Navy
to its finest in blowing up all seaside settlements.

Definitely a good game and I am interested to see what the Halifax Hammer controversy is like. I know it is out of print but come Toy and Game Expo 2012 we will have more stock of this amazing wargame!

Oh yea…

VIRGIN QUEEN ARRIVED!


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Are you as fast as your draw…

I love spaghetti westerns.

Nothing better than a standoff followed with a blaze of gunfire.
Well if Twilight Struggle could attest, sitting in the Kremlin and making dominoes fall is equally as fun.
But not everyone has the time to throw down the slugfest which is Twilight Struggle, then the list of fun (for me at least), 2 player games start to grow thin.

Lost Cities? Card counting.
War of the Ring? same problem as Twilight struggle: with orcs.
Magic? Yeah sure but I could only tap that  game for so long.
But checking through the new game pile yesterday I found an eager El Indio grasping two revolvers pointing straight at me.
While the bullets missed the game didn’t. A fast  card game about hunting down the Colty gang with a posse of Law Dogs, Revolver really scratched that two player asymmetrical itch that Labyrinth: War on Terror and a CCG game would.

Gameplay was fun and furious. Cowboys and bandits would die left and right and as the Colty gang you really get to feel like the world is against you and you have to race for the Mexican border. As the border looms close, only your closest companions are left as the noose begins to draw around you. Suddenly you are on the 3:15 express from Rattlesnake station with your dog dead and only a few Derringers to keep you comfy.

 

That’s when you blow up the train.
With all the bounty hunters on it.
Then you make your run for the border.

Ride off. Sunset. Varmints
Doused with the spaghetti western theme making it 3:10 to ‘Yuma’ in-con- carnate this game really hits the theme sweet spot of being playable and thematic (I am looking at you Scarab/ Minotaur Lords… wait that game is pretty good).

Won’t be slamming this down in party situations (unless they are playing Twilight Imperium when you awkwardly rock up mid turn 2), but this is a surefire keep to replace some bad two player card game.

Who am I kidding, I keep all my games.

Check out Revolver: The Wild West Gun Fighting Game here
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