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!)
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.
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:
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Much like DoW‘s other title Five Tribes, Quadropolis 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.
Interested in some of the games mentioned in this article? You can find them here: