Quadropolis is a city building game from designer François Gandon with art by Sabrina Miramon, and is published by Days of Wonder. Quadropolis can play from 2-4 players and plays between 30-60 minutes. In Quadropolis each player has a team of four architects who are vying to secure buildings from a central board to build in their own city. As players utilize their architects and the central board diminishes, the choices on which buildings to buy become more difficult. After three rounds of play, the player who has the best city is the winner!
New York 1901 is a drafting area control game by designer Chenier La Salle and Blue Orange Games. The game runs about 45 minutes and plays with 2-4 players. In New York 1901 the goal is to earn the most points by erecting skyscrapers in downtown New York City in… you guessed it, 1901. A mix of tile-laying and card drafting make up the mechanics of the game, while bonus criteria drive the players to focus on certain regions of the board. Cards indicating color and size are laid out in a row and on their turn a player will draft one of those cards. The player then plays one of their four workers to a space on the board matching the chosen card. Finally, the player may build a building on any spaces on the board that they own, including the space that they just obtained. Each player has the same set of bronze, silver, and gold buildings, and there are four “legendary” skyscrapers which are available to all players. Most of the buildings take up more spaces than any given card will provide, so it is important to obtain adjacent spaces to allow you to build bigger and bigger buildings. A player is further restricted by building class. Bronze buildings are the only ones allowed to be built at the beginning of the game. Once a player reaches a certain point threshold they may build silver buildings, and another threshold unlocks the ability to build gold buildings. The player may demolish buildings to build a better one, but may only upgrade from bronze or silver to silver or gold respectively. If a player has only four un-built skyscrapers left or the open market (cards) need to be re-filled but the deck has run out, the end of the game is triggered. In addition to the points earned throughout the game by building, the players then determine the bonus points. At the beginning of the game three street cards and one bonus challenge card are chosen at random. The player who has the most buildings on each of the chosen streets receives a bonus, and in the case of a tie, no points are awarded. Points are also awarded for the bonus challenge which could be anything from who has buildings in the most districts to who has the most gold at the end of the game. The winner is the player with the most points.
I had the opportunity to play New York 1901 in the Blue Highway Games Board Game Challenge last month and I was very happy that I did. I find that the game ticks off many of my check boxes when it comes to what I like in a game. I like drafting, and I like tile-laying, and I like area control, and New York 1901 is all of these things! The board is colorful and the graphic style of the game is pleasing. Mechanically the game has quite a few rules, but once these are grasped, the game plays fairly easily, and it isn’t all that difficult to grasp the rules. There is a somewhat Tetris-y vibe to the game since the building tiles are all in odd shapes a-la Tetris, and with all of the color flying around you get that feeling of trying to squeeze these buildings into whichever available space you can utilize efficiently. When you couple that with the decision making involved with attempting to meet the various challenges, determining which spaces to take, which spaces to hold in the hopes that nobody else takes the adjacent spaces, all in an effort to get that one bigger building on the board, well then you have a very well-rounded game in my opinion. I had been wanting to play New York 1901 since GenCon last year where it had generated a lot of buzz, but for some reason, I just didn’t make it over to those demo tables. Once the tournament was over they announced that opened copies of the game which they had used for the tournament would be sold at a discount, I jumped at the opportunity to snag a copy. Now I just hope that my family likes the game as much as I do.
Taluva is a territory building, tile laying game with a twist. You can build up as well as out. Taluva is played by 2-4 players and was designed by Marcel-Andre Casasola Merkle. My copy of the game was by Rio Grande Games, but Ferti is the current publisher. In Taluva players take turns placing tiles around or on top of the existing island. Each tile consists of a volcano and two other terrain spaces. Tiles placed to expand the footprint of the island must share an edge with another tile. Tiles placed to expand the height of the island must overlap at least two tiles, and the volcano on the new tile must be directly above a volcano on one of the tiles under it. No overhanging terrain is allowed. Tiles may be placed over top of existing huts which are then destroyed (removed from the game, not back to the player), provided that they are not wiping out a complete village. Towers and temples may not be covered over. Once the terrain is placed, the player plays one or more buildings consisting of huts, temples, and towers. To start a new village a hut must be placed at sea level, on an empty hex (not necessarily on the tile just played). A player may also expand an existing village by choosing a terrain type and placing huts on each space that matches the chosen terrain that is adjacent to the existing village. If this causes huts to be placed at level two or higher, then huts equal to the level are placed on the space (i.e. on level three, three huts would be placed). The player may also play a temple which must be placed in an existing village (with no other temple in it already) that has buildings in three or more hexes. Towers are similar in that there has to be an existing village which can not have another tower in it, but towers may only be placed at level three or higher. If a player does not have enough buildings to complete a move then they can not choose that move, and if a player is literally unable to place any building on their turn, then they lose the game instantly. The game ends in one of two ways; the official end-game is when all of the terrain tiles have been placed the game ends and the player with the most temples is the winner (tie goes to most towers and then most huts). The “quick” victory happens when one player plays all of two types of their buildings, then that player wins immediately.
When I first obtained Taluva and played it, I didn’t really grasp the tactical nature of the game. There are many levels of strategy involved and a lot of decisions that must be made each turn starting with where to place your terrain tile. If you place the terrain tile in a way that your opponent can exploit, then you give them an advantage. In general I’ve found that trying to keep the opponent at sea level as long as possible while giving yourself options to expand up is the best approach. Typically a player tries to win by placing all of their temples and towers (you have three and two respectively), and each player’s goal should be not just to play out their buildings, but also to inhibit the ability of the other players to do the same. The game is really brutal with just two players, as any wrong move can give the opponent a deep advantage. Then it becomes up to the opponent to make a mistake so that you can catch back up.