Quadropolis is a city planning/tile selection game, designed by François Gandon & published by the folks at Days of Wonder. It was released back in 2016 to what seemed little fanfare. With the Public Services expansion having been on sale for the last few months, should this title be brought into the limelight, or simply left to its own devices?
How does it play?
Gameplay is rather straightforward for a city planning game such as this. The rule book is concise and provides a great deal of both textual and graphical rules explanations and tips.
To set-up, each player receives a player board and four numbered ‘Architect’ tiles in their preferred colour (#1-4). A board with a 5x5 grid known as the 'Construction Site' is placed in the centre of the table, within easy reach of all players.
Beginning with tiles from the round one stack of buildings, tiles are placed face down randomly on the central board and flipped face up (dependent on number of players, this is denoted on the backs of the tiles, any which aren’t used are returned to the box). The randomized set-up of building tiles means that no two games are ever the same.
The classic game of Quadropolis is played over four rounds, with each player taking four turns per round, starting with the start player and proceeding in a clockwise order. On your turn, you select a building tile from the Construction Site that you wish to add to your city, and place it on your own personal player board. To do this, you must use one of your four numbered Architect tokens (distinguishable by player colour), which you place on the edge of the Construction Site in a single column or row.
The number on the Architect token is important, as this has two connotations. Firstly, the number on the tile laid in the column/row denotes how many squares in from the edge the tile you are selecting is – for example, placing a #2 Architect next to the Construction Site will mean you take the second tile in from that side of the board. The second reason why Architect numbers are important is that your player board is split into numbered rows and columns. You have to place your chosen building in a column/row on your player board with the same number as the Architect used. Using the previous example as a reference, you would have to place this tile in a column/row marked ‘2’ on your player board (if a space is available, otherwise discard it from the game).
It’s important to point out that Architects cannot stack, either on your own or that of other players. Plan ahead, and maybe look to pick up that all important tile as soon as you can, or you could end up with a tile you may not have wanted, or cannot place.
One potential obstacle to overcome throughout the game is that of the Urbanist. This is a single pawn that a player on their turn must move on the central board to the empty space vacated after they have taken a tile from it. The Urbanist prevents the next player from using their Architect to select a tile in the same column/row in which it currently resides.
Each tile has a number of symbols depicted on the top-left and bottom-right corners. When selecting a tile and placing it in your city, that tile will provide you with either an immediate bonus of Inhabitants (blue meeples), Energy (red cylinders), or Victory Points at the end of the game – this is depicted in the top-left of the tile.
Inhabitants and Energy are used to activate tiles on your player boards. Activation costs for each tile are shown on the bottom-right corner - Tiles will not score at the end of the game unless they have been activated. You are free to move your acquired resources between tiles throughout the game, but must make a final decision before end game scoring is calculated.
This is where scoring and determining an overall strategy comes into play. Your choices are ultimately dependent on how the end-game scoring system works: -
- Tower Blocks – Score depending on number of floors (tiles) in their respective stacks (note: you only need activate the top-most tile at end-game).
- Shops – Score based on number of Inhabitants placed on them (up to 5) by the end of the game.
- Public Services – Score based on ‘spread’, as in whether they have been placed in different quadrants on the player board.
- Parks – Score depending on number of residential buildings adjacent to it (Parks can also use up a single Energy resource, why? See below).
- Factories – Score points based on the number of shops and/or harbours that are adjacent to it.
- Harbours – Score based on number of harbour tiles in the longest continuous row and/or column on your player board.
At the end of the game, you will also score additional Victory Points denoted on activated building tiles, and will lose points for each unused Inhabitant & Energy a player has accumulated.
At the end of each round, any remaining tiles on the Construction Site are removed, along with the Urbanist, and all Architects are returned to their respective layers. If anybody selected, and placed, a tile with the green Start Player token onto their player board, they become the new Start Player.
As well as the Classic rule set, there are also a number of additional modules and game modes included in the base game box. Firstly, playgrounds take the place of a number of Parks within the building stacks. These cannot consume energy, but score as parks do at end game. Then, there is the expert game mode.
Expert Mode adds an additional level of complexity and choices to the game. The game is now played over five rounds, instead of four. All Architect tiles for each player are placed close to the central board and flipped over to show their Grey side, including a #5 for every player at the table.
Each round, players are free to choose any of the architects available in the central pool. Instead of being restricted to just #1-4, you could theoretically end up using all the #1 Architects instead. The same rules apply in terms of placement on your player boards (in terms of numbers corresponding to columns/rows) but this time, players will use the Expert side of their board, which now includes numbered Zones.
As well as an alternative board layout, and the change in Architect usage, there are a few additional building tiles that are swapped in to the building stacks. Office Towers work similarly to Tower Blocks, but score dependent on the number of floors AND adjacency to each other (they are also expensive to activate).
Monuments work similarly to Factories, do not need to be activated, but can score negative points if adjacent to Factories & Harbours.
The “Public Services” Expansion
It didn’t take long for an expansion to hit retail, and not more than a year after the base game was released the “Public Services” expansion hit the shelves. It’s small in stature, and comes with 24 new Public Service tiles to add to either Classic or Expert Modes. These buildings function similar to the base game variants, but can provide additional end-game scoring bonuses if certain conditions are met – e.g. Park District provides one additional VP for every Park in your city.
To use these tiles, the expansion tiles are shuffled and four are drawn face up at the start of every round, and sit close-by to the Construction Site. Whenever a player selects a Public Service from the central board with their Architect tokens, they may either:
a) Discard the tile, and use one of the four face up expansion tiles.
b) Use that tile, and choose to discard one of the face-up expansion tiles next to the board.
At the end of each round, all remaining tiles here are discarded and a new set of four revealed. If ever there are no more in the stack, the discarded tiles are shuffled and reused.
Some will like this this expansion, some won’t. I personally don’t mind this additional module, but could argue that it just isn’t necessary in the grand scheme of things, as there is plenty to keep the players occupied with in the base game.
Final Thoughts on Quadropolis
Despite all of it’s many positives, it’s likely that Quadropolis wouldn't be a game you would end up playing regularly, simply because it is seen as rather straightforward and there are so many other games out there that provide more of a challenge. That's not to say that you won’t have fun along the way.
So, should you go out and buy Quadropolis? My advice is if you are a fan of games with a more laid-back gaming experience, with differing levels of difficulty to cater for players of all ages and experience levels, and are quite appreciative of the art style and good component quality, then you can’t go far wrong than Quadropolis.
Quadropolis provides great value for money, which puts it in the same ball-park as some other Days of Wonder titles, including the Ticket to Ride series.