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METROPOLYS

reviewed by Chris Kovac

Ystari Games, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, 50-60 minutes; $49.95

     Metropolys is the latest game from Ystari Games and is designed by Sebastien Pauchon (best known as the designer of Yspahan, featured in the Winter 2007 GA REPORT). This is a light two to four player area control game which seems to works best with four. The game is essentially an abstract with a light theme of land development in the 1920’s art deco city of Metropolys. You can play this with advanced or basic rules.   Most gamers will most probably prefer the advanced rules and this review will reflect them.metropolys

First each player gets a set of 13 “tower” pieces with values 1-13.   The towers vary in height with towers 1-5 being small, towers 6-9 being medium and 10-13 being tall. Next the board is seeded with scoring tokens. I would recommend the fixed placement of scoring tokens for the first few games (shown in the rules); in later games you can use a random setup for these tokens which provides some variety for the game.

The game board consists of five sectors of the city (a city core surrounded by four suburbs). Each sector contains a number of city blocks in five different colours, canals and lakes. Each player will get a card held secretly showing which of these areas are worth bonus points to him at the end of the game.   As well, the player will receive a second card showing patterns of control which will be worth points to the player at the end of the game.   These are things like have control of three adjacent areas around a lake or two areas across a canal.

The game turn consists of a player placing a tower piece with number side up on a vacant city block. The only restriction is that you cannot place a piece on a canal or a lake   The next player clockwise can then place a tower in an adjacent area (you have to have a connecting bridge if it is in a different city sector) as long as it is vacant and the tower placed being higher value. This continues until either there is no vacant space to place a tower or no player can or wishes to place another tower. The turn is also over if at least three out of four players pass.   The winning player turns over his tower, collects any score tokens and decides on the next city block to start a new chain. Losing towers go back to their respective players to be used again. Winning towers cannot be used again and are lost to the player who played them for the rest of the game. metropolysbrd

Scoring tokens represent subway locations, trendy neighbourhoods or archaeology sites. Trendy neighbourhood tokens are worth three points apiece, metro tokens one point and archaeology tokens MINUS one point. Furthermore the person who has the most metro tokens at the end of the game gets a three point bonus card and every time someone takes an archaeology token, they get the archaeology “bonus” card which is worth MINUS two points if held to the end of the game. The game is over when one player has placed all his towers. Then comes the final scoring.

Each city sector is scored for control.   The person with the most towers (ties broken by height with higher tower trumping lower ones) in a sector gets the sector token which is worth five points. Next, people reveal their hidden scoring tiles. For each city block you control of your secret color you get points and for each pattern of control matching your other bonus card you get points (each block can only be counted once). You add these points to points already scored with the tokens and the highest total wins with ties being broken with the person who placed the most towers.

The only difference between the basic and advanced game is that in the basic game a card is drawn from the basic deck and these are simpler to achieve since you get two different areas to score rather than one in the advanced and your bonus points for patterns of control require fewer pieces (usually one or two vs. three for the advanced game).

The strategy of the game is really balancing as to when to use your high pieces while trying to create single city block pockets where you can use your low value towers to get control of city sectors, all the while trying to get the scoring chits and your secret bonus areas. Using the nine tower to force other players to use their tall towers can be quite useful as long as the other players do not call you and make you lose your nine tower. Knowing which areas to let go to save your higher towers for later rounds is also crucial for winning this game.  Having high point towers when other players do not means you have an easier time getting city blocks and will more likely win the game. I liked the artwork as a whole especially the great cover art by Mathieu Leyssere though the bright colours on the board made it occasionally made it hard to see the background lakes and canals.

The good production values, quick game play and easy to learn rules of Metropolys all make for a nice quick hour game which can be played both by non gamers (using the basic rules) or gamers (using the advanced rules). – – – Chris Kovac


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