3 – Cosmic Run
In Cosmic Run, players take turns rolling a handful of 6 dice and then arranging sets from these dice to advance their player pawn rocket ships in a race against one another to be the first to land on new planets! On your first roll of every turn there is also a chance based on the values of certain colored dice that a meteor strike might damage or even destroy a planet before you can get there. So, players aren't only racing against each other, but also the fickle hand of fate! Die sets for movement are simple: a single die showing a “1,” or any pair, or any three, four, or five of a kind. Each time you roll, you only have to assign at least one die in order to roll again, but you can assign more. This means that you don’t have to create a set using the dice from a single roll. You can commit dice toward the creation of an incomplete set and hope that you get what you need before you’re suddenly out of dice and your turn is over. This is a lot of playing the odds, and reminiscent of the game play of Can’t Stop which is another game that we love. The board in Cosmic Run is made up of 5 tracks and the tracks are of varying lengths. The easiest track is the “1’s” track, and it’s also the longest track, with the smallest incremental improvement in victory points with each step along the way. The five of a kind track is the shortest track, and gives the highest awards in victory points with each step. When any player reaches the top of a track, they have discovered the planet there and the track is scored. Every player receives points based on their final position on the track at the point where the planet was discovered. The player who actually managed to reach the planet is in for a substantial bonus in points, while players lower on the track will score much less, in some cases even being penalized with negative points for lack of progress. Scoring of a track will also happen if any planet suffers three total meteor strikes. Once a planet is hit by its third meteor, the planet is considered destroyed and no one can discover it. When this happens, everyone is scored immediately based on their progress toward the doomed planet for good or ill. It’s a good idea to get part way up as many tracks as you can to avoid negative points. In addition to space travel, you can use your dice to befriend different alien races. Aliens give you powers that help you to mitigate your die rolls making it possible to roll the more difficult targets (like five of a kind.) One type of Alien is a mining race allowing you to mine for ore, which equals instant victory points. At the end of the game, sets of Aliens are also worth points depending upon how many different Aliens of each type you managed to befriend. Finally, if you don't have anything else to do, you can place a single die of any value into your personal tech tree to give yourself small one-shot benefits. Because of this, you always have options available on every turn. Cosmic Run is a fast, engaging, surprisingly strategic little dice game. It's quick to play and
Julieand I always play at least two games every time we break it out.
2 – Quadropolis
In Quadropolis, players are each responsible for city planning, arranging the construction of buildings in 4 zones of a city as shown on their player boards. There is also a shared central board that must be set up at the start of every round, and there are 4 rounds in each game. The central board shows a selection of the possible buildings that players can add to their own personal piece of the city. You don’t need to gather resources or pay money to add new buildings to your player board in Quadropolis. The game play here is focused on how you arrange the buildings on your board, and on a unique drafting mechanism. The first thing a player does on their turn is assign an architect to draw up plans for a building. Every player has 4 architects in their employ. These take the form of illustrated cardboard pointers numbered 1 through 4. You can use each architect only once each round, so a round is made up of 4 turns per player. You use your architects to draft building plans. Do this by placing the card board pointer next to the board pointing at the plan that you want. If you place the 4 architect pointing into a row or column for example, you will draft the 4th plan in the direction that you are pointing. If you place the 2 architect pointing into a row or column you will draft the 2nd plan in from the central board in the direction that the architect is pointing. This creates an interesting puzzle for drafting the buildings that you need, but the puzzle doesn’t end there. You can’t place your archetect in a location around the central board where another player already has an architect. Also, every time a tile is removed from the board a special figure is moved to sit in that location. You can never point an architect at that figure. So, the row and column that was just used by the player before you is always blocked, but the puzzle doesn’t end there. Now that you have drafted a building plan, you must place the tile on your player board to turn it into a building. Since you used the number 2 architect to draft this particular plan, you must now find a suitable location for the new building in your city that is in either the 2nd row or the 2nd column on your player board. Ah, ha! You have to choose which architect to use based not only on which building plan you want, but where you plan to build it! Tricky! Once a building is placed it will usually produce a resource. The resources in Quadropolis are population, represented by little blue meeples, and energy, represented by little red cubes. Most buildings won’t score unless they are first activated by either a population meeple or energy cube. Which type of resource is needed depends upon the building and this is another part of the puzzle. If at the end of the game, you have excess population meeples that aren’t able to be assigned to buildings this represents over-population and will damage your score. If you have unassigned energy cubes, these represent pollution and will incur a similar detriment. At the end of the 4th round, your 16th turn of the game, you will score your city. Your score will be based on the types of buildings in your city and their proximity to other buildings. Parks, for example, score based on how many residential apartment buildings they are adjacent to. Factories score if next to a shop or a harbor. Shops score based on how many little population meeples you are able to place on top of them (up to 4 max.) Harbors score when forming a continuous line or column. The game comes with helpful player aids that show the scoring rules to help you decide how to place your buildings. The absolutely amazing thing about Quadropolis is how elegantly and simply all of these things come together. There is a lot going on here, but it all works seamlessly and intuitively. Quadropolis is easy to teach, easy to learn, easy to play. It juggles elements of a much more complex game and manages to produce something that is approachable and fun. Quadropolis isn’t complicated at all while you are playing it. Players have options and these options equate to an entertaining and engaging game play experience. Quadropolis is a family weight game with a great theme, quick engaging game play, beautiful components, and a fantastic table presence, that
Julieand I both love.