It turns out I’d make a terrible city planner. It took me a few plays to crack this nut but I’ve finally been able to design a city or two that worked.
Sprawlopolis is the latest published offering from Button Shy Games, a wonderful wallet game that actually will fit in your pocket. Featuring variable win conditions with tons of combos so no two games are ever the same. Tight decision making, great graphic design, easy to learn. All that in 18 cards. It may actually take you longer to read this little review than it would to play a full game.
In Sprawlopolis, 1-4 players work together to build a new city from the ground up. Using only 18 cards and a variable scoring system, the game is never the same twice. Each turn, players will play 1 card from their hand to the growing city, trying to score as many points as possible. Players will have to communicate and plan without revealing their own cards in order to most efficiently develop large areas in each of the 4 zone types. Watch out though, the city hates paying for road maintenance so each road will cost you points in the end. When all cards have been placed, the game ends and players see if they have met dynamically generated minimum score for their game. Can you meet the demands of the officials, work with your fellow planners and build the ultimate urban wonder? It’s time to find out!
When I say tight decision making, I mean it. With 18 cards in a standard game, and only 15 of them comprising your city, every single card placement is meaningful.
To begin, the player shuffles all 18 cards, and then draws and flips over 3 of them to reveal the scoring objectives and the number of points needed to reach a win. You then place down the first card to start your city, draw a hand of 3 more cards and have just 14 more cards to (hopefully) meet or exceed the score you need.
Each card consists of 4 blocks of the 4 different colored zones. And also a few roads. After you draw your initial hand of 3, you place 1 card at a time, drawing it’s replacement from the deck before placing another card. Your objective is to place cards next to or overlapping each other so that you create a city tableau that matches your unique scoring requirements.
Every city will score base points for their largest contiguous grouping of each of the 4 different zones. Then you add up how many completed roads you’ve made and subtract that number from yoru score. Ouch! Check your unique objectives to see how many more points you can scrape up and then compare your final score to the total on the objectives.
It’s not anywhere near as easy as it sounds.
I’ve played this game mostly solo and it’s one I very much enjoy. In 10 to 15 minutes I can get in a thinky, intense little game session that’s got my brain buzzing, but isn’t long enough to actually have smoke coming out of me ears. It’s perfect for me when I want something relatively deep but don’t have the time or energy to invest an hour of brain power or more. As an added bonus, it takes about 10 seconds to set up a new game of Sprawlopolis!
The game features clear, concise graphic design and artwork – really the two are on here, and there’s not any ambiguity as to what’s on any particular card.
To be honest, I prefer this one as a solo game, though it can accommodate up to 4 players. In co-op mode it can create some interesting conversations around the game but depending on who you’re playing with, this 15 minute gem could drag on a bit longer than it should.
You can find Sprawlopolis at the Button Shy website. https://buttonshygames.com/products/sprawlopolis-pre-order