Gaming has been sporadic of late, and tonight was kind of an easy night. We’ve got International Tabletop Day coming up on Saturday, so I think we’re pacing ourselves a bit. I plan on doing the long haul that day, and didn’t want to burn myself out tonight, so it was a couple of lighter games on the menu.
First up was Quadropolis, which has had a good bit of buzz on Board Game Geek of late. It’s yet another take on the tried and true city building genre that’s been getting a pretty good workout of late, what with Machi Koro and Dice City and Between Two Cities. The twist here is that everyone is choosing their buildings from a 5 x 5 grid using a set of architect tokens numbers 1 to 4. You choose a numbered token and a row, and take the tile from that row matching the number you played. You then have to place that tile on your board in a row matching the number you used to acquire it. This also places the dreaded Urbanist on the main board; this pawn locks down the two rows that intersect at its location, meaning the next player can’t place an architect at either end of either of those rows. So there’s a good bit of thinking involved in every move; picking a tile using a number that will allow you to place it in the best position on your player board while possibly throwing a kink in your opponent’s plans, taking into account the particular number you use is gone for the rest of that turn.
The various buildings are of different types and score in different ways (apartments score based on how high you stack them, parks score based on the number of apartments around them, ports score based on how many of them are in a row, etc.) in a way very reminiscent of Between Two Cities. Most of the buildings also produce and are powered by two types of resources, energy and inhabitants. A tile without its required resource doesn’t score at the end of the game, so you have to make sure you’re balancing buildings that will score you points with buildings that will generate resources for you. After four rounds of placing tiles, you tally up your scores and the highest score wins.
Which wasn’t me. I fell into my usual trap on my first play of these types of games: trying to do a little bit of everything and therefore scoring a little bit of everything. You might think it makes sense to diversify early on so you can slide into whatever tiles are available later, but the players who did really well focused on one or two things and just kept bombing them for all they were worth. I liked this just fine, but wasn’t wowed by it the way some on the Geek have been. Then again, we were playing the more basic game; the expert game adds an extra architect and a drafting system for them which means you may not end up with one of each number each turn. That could make a diversified strategy more tenable. So a solid little game I’d definitely try again, but nothing I was wowed by.
I salvaged a little bit of ego by winning a game of Castles of Mad King Ludwig. I’m still taken with how this game just works. Everything flows together so well; in fact, I think the Secrets expansion kind of gums up the works a little bit, and having played my last two games using the expansion, felt like the game just felt smoother without it this time. Plus I was teaching it to two new players and didn’t want to add more complexity to what’s already a pretty thinky game. They both did pretty darn well for themselves for first-timers. One of them was staying neck and neck with me for most of the game, but I really racked up on bonus points to pull away at the end. Which is the reverse of what I usually do. Here’s to finally grasping the end game for once.
Now it’s off to read some rules for some new games I want to play Saturday, and refresh on some older ones we’re bringing out again. We had a lot of new folks tonight who had no idea there was a big game event this weekend, so I’m looking forward to a good turnout. Not that I haven’t been enjoying my game nights, but some new blood would be a welcome addition. Plus I can win some games against newbies for a while and not feel like such an idiot.