September Spotlight - Quadropolis
Every month at For The Win Board Game Cafe we'll be spotlighting a game of our choice. We'll give an in-depth look at either a new release or a game we feel very passionate about.
This month, we're looking at one of our favourite new releases this year - Quadropolis. City-builders are commonplace in the board game world, so here we'll take a look at what separates it from the pack.
Quadropolis is a tile-placement game. The various tiles in the game represent different types of buildings: Parks, Residence, Factories, Harbours, Shops, Public Service, Monuments and Offices. Each tile has its own method of scoring. The synergies between tiles are all logical - such as placing parks adjacent to residences. Also, some tiles provide Inhabitants and Energy. These resources are used to either power buildings or provide workers to activate tiles. There are plenty of things to manage, but it never feels like an overwhelming task.
The process of selecting tiles is where the interactivity comes in. Each round, players have 4 different Architects to acquire tiles, numbered 1 through 4. The available pool of tiles are placed in a 5x5 grid called the Construction Site. Players take turns placing their Architect either vertically or horizontally outside the Site, and the tile they collect corresponds to the number on the Architect they used. Then, to place it in their city, they may only construct the tile in a zone also matching the number of the Architect used.
For a relatively light fare, the tile selection process can be rigorous and mind-busting. It's not quite Five Tribes-level of analysis paralysis, but it sometimes comes close. Planning your moves out in advance, while keeping track of what the other players are plotting is the most important strategic aspect of the game.
And once you get comfortable with the standard game, you can kick it up to Expert level unlocking some new building types, a different city arrangement and a new method of selecting Architects. It adds a legitimate new dimension to the gameplay, by tweaking just a few things. After having played Expert, I haven't looked back. The Classic mode mainly serves to teach the game to newcomers, or for a shorter experience.
Everything about Quadropolis has a very modern, mobile-phone-app aesthetic. It looks and even feels like SimCity in a board game. It's very clean and family-friendly. When you compare it to the more sophisticated Suburbia, it is far more pleasant to look at. It may not be the most unique looking game, but it has charm.
The game comes with the perfect insert. It divides all the tiles into each round, and even separates the Expert level tiles from the Classic ones. It not only serves to hold the components of the game, but also makes the round-to-round setup a hassle-free process. My only complaint is that because it fits everything so snug, it means the inevitable expansions will not fit into the box with the core components. And if you're like me, you prefer having everything in one box. Hopefully the Broken Token guys will hook us up with a solution.
The player mat quality is reminiscent of the mats in Dead of Winter, meaning they will eventually show some wear & tear. Cardboard mats (similar to the Construction Site) would have been a nice upgrade.
Each tile is clearly labelled with its appropriate Round number and tile ID on the back. The tile ID is used for easily swapping tiles in & out with the included mini-expansion for Playgrounds. There is also currently a few promos replacing Monuments and a Factory tile. All the necessary information is there for you to make these changes a breeze.
The most immediate comparison to Quadropolis would be to Suburbia. Both not only fall under the same theme, but also feature similar tile-based gameplay. Suburbia is a meatier game, with much more things to manage. But at times that's what I dislike about it. In Quadropolis, the experience is lighter, but still requires careful planning. And the Expert mode gives you just enough to think about. The experience feels fulfilling as a medium-level, strategy game. Both games can certainly co-exist on the market, because they're still different experiences. Suburbia is far more economy-based, whereas Quadropolis is more dependant on tile-selection and placement. Suburbia can often feel like a solitaire game. Quadropolis keeps you constantly aware of the fact you're competing with others.
Another recent city-building, tile game that hit the market is New York 1901. Its target audience matches Quadropolis'. But at the end of the day, I found New York 1901 to be a little too dry, with everyone making similar choices. The level of cutthroat is pretty similar, with New York 1901 being a little more unforgiving. In terms of general enjoyment, I felt that Quadropolis just offered a fuller experience from start to finish. There are parts in New York 1901 where some players feel out of it, and then it drags on.
I love how the depth of the game creeps up on you as you get deeper and deeper into your first game. At first you think you're just going to be building your metropolis, and suddenly you get invested in finding ways to screw over your opposition. It gave me the same feeling I had when I first played Ticket to Ride. And given the engine they've built, I can see a lot of room for potential expansions in the near future - especially given that this is a Days of Wonder product.
I'm a very careful consumer of board games. I like to purchase games that have the highest perceived value for me. For as many games as I've played, my collection is quite small. I always look to get the best bang for my buck. So when I buy a game, I know it's something I'll be playing for years. Quadropolis is the latest addition to my collection, and it has certainly earned its place on my shelf and will likely to continue to do so for years to come.