I've now played my 4,200th game session and it was Ginkgopolis, from Z-Man Games. A relatively new purchase for my family, it has received quite a bit of play recently and so this is one I'm glad I get a chance to review.
Players take on the role of city planners trying to build a more futuristic and environment friendly city. There is a 3x3 grid of tiles laid out at the start of the game. On your turn you can: 1.Play a card that will give you tiles, resources, or points. 2. Play a card to build over an existing building. 3. Expand the city outwards by playing a card. That is it. Pretty simple and straight forward. However, as you build the city you'll create more and more special bonuses for you to do a specific type action, thus giving you more tiles, points, and resources to build the city more.
The pieces in this game are top notch. There are a ton of building tiles, about the size of your typical game tile, but really thick. I liked that they made the backs of the starting tiles different than the backs of the regular tiles so you can quickly distinguish them. The cards of solid quality, the rules are as well, and the wooden tokens and player shields are the typical Z-Man products. The art on the game is really cool, though it doesn't really have much of a theme in the game play. I like the somewhat futuristic characters on the box and the cards. The buildings also look very nice and "one with nature" as they should for the theme.
This is much more of a tactical game than a strategic game, though they is plenty of strategy as well. I've played it a few times with 4 and 5 players, in which case it becomes very chaotic, and thus strategy goes out the door. However, in a 2 or 3 player game, there is plenty of trying to position yourself to get that specific bonus card or control the big blue area where you'll get the most points at the end of the game. This strategy has become more apparent to me the more I've played the game and learned a bit more about what cards go with what buildings and what kind of bonuses there are for end of the game. At first I thought this game would be completely tactical, but I've found myself thinking several turns ahead trying to get in the best position to win the area majority at the end of the game.
This game is a very good game. I've now played it 13 times, which is quite a bit considering I only first played in 2 months ago. That is more times than I've played some of my favorite games including Dungeon Lords and Hansa Tuetonica, so that has to mean something. I do think that playing a card by itself can be a bit weak and you'll want to avoid doing so if you can. I've tried a couple times to go heavy in that strategy and it just didn't seem to work as well. This is one that'll stick around awhile though in my collection and I think I've really got my $35 out of it already in two months.
Carcassonne Fans - I think this is the next step for Carcassonne fans. It has that tile laying aspect, but allows you to build up as well as out. It is probably slightly longer (thanks to set up time), but if you like Carc give this one a try.
Drafting Fans - The card drafting in this game, though while somewhat interesting, doesn't really have a lot of effect on the game play since a new card comes into the system each turn. In a two player game it matters more, but as you get more players it matters less and less. If you think this is the next 7 Wonders or Fairy Tale, think again.
Players Who Play Pink - I know there has to be some of you out there. This is a must buy. There are pink player pieces.
Typical Euro Player - I wouldn't call myself a complete Euro player, but I play them the majority of the time and this has a place in my collection. I think it is different enough that it'd be worth purchasing and thus taking up a spot on your shelf. Even if it means getting rid of another game (I'm looking at you Masons).
*Every 100 Games Series - Back in March of 2006 I began tracking each session of the various board and card games I play. I soon got the idea to write a review on every 100th game I played, one because I like writing reviews, and two because it is interesting to see what game I review next. You can find a list of all of them here: Every 100 Games Series Reviews.