Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Metropolys - A First Impression

One of the new games that I played last night is Metropolys, a new release from Ystari Games, the company that also gave us two of my favorite games: Caylus and Mykerinos.

Metropolys is relatively light-weight strategy game for two to four players. It plays in about 45 minutes and it's for ages eight and up.

The game is played on a very colorful board depicting a city that's divided up into five regions or districts by a series of canals. Each region is in turn divided up into a number of colored building spaces. The board is not only colorful and chock full of artwork, it is perhaps too colorful and too chock full of artwork. I found the board to be incredibly busy and a little bit too hard on the eyes. Still, I enjoyed the game and I thought the other bits were very nice. I particularly appreciated the really nice wooden building tokens and the plethora of plastic zip bags that were included in the box.

The core game mechanic works like this: each player has thirteen wooden buildings, each numbered from one to thirteen. Each round of the game, players will bid for the right to construct one of their buildings somewhere on the map. The player starting the bidding puts one of their buildings on an empty space. Each subsequent player can then outbid the previous player by putting one of his higher numbered buildings on an empty space next to the previous bidder's building. Bidding continues around the table until all players have passed or until there is nowhere else to bid. The winner then turns his building over (number side down) to claim his space and all the losing bids are removed from the map. Then the winner starts the next round of bidding.

In this way, the map is slowly populated with buildings. Along the way, players try to achieve various goals by trying to place their buildings in the spaces that will net them the most points. Each player has a couple of unique, secret goals and there are also a few goals that everyone knows about. Once a player has placed his last building, the game is over and scores are calculated.

I really enjoyed the unique bidding mechanic. With this system, where you bid can be just as important as what you bid. It's possible to force a bid to go a certain way by placing your bid in a particular location and a big part of the game is paying attention to which buildings the other players have left and using that to your advantage.

I enjoyed this game quite a bit. My only complaint is that the artwork is just too busy. There were a couple of times where we missed some important plays because the busy artwork made them difficult to spot. I imagine that problem will get better as players become more familiar with the game and it's not enough of a problem to seriously hurt my opinion of the game.

I look forward to playing this one again.


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