Game Buzz: Ginkgopolis

Another game from this year’s Spiel:

image by BGG user sebduj
image by BGG user sebduj

Ginkgopolis is a new game from designer Xavier Georges and publishers Pearl Games (domestically by Z-Man Games).  1-5 players can play this 45 minute game about building a new type of city 200 years in the future while dealing with problems like limited resources, limited space, and trying to find new sources of energy.  It has been compared to several other games, including 7 Wonders and Carcassonne, but people seem to like its style.

The game comes with 60 building tiles (numbered 1-20 in three different colors); 99 cards (urbanization, building, and character); 125 resources in player colors; 10 new hand tokens; 12 urbanization tokens; 5 screens; success point tokens (in denominations of 1-3-5-10); 15 construction site pawns; and a first player card.  You begin by placing the building tiles numbered 1-3 in each color randomly in a 3×3 square.  The 12 urbanization tokens are placed around the square in alphabetical order (A-L).  The other building tiles are shuffled.  The 12 urbanization cards and 9 building tiles corresponding to the ones in the square are shuffled together, and the other building cards are sorted by color and arranged into stacks in numerical order.  Each player begins with 16-25 of their resources in the supply (depending on the number of players).  They also get a screen, 2 new hand tokens, 4 cards from the deck, and 3 character cards.  The 3 characters are drafted from 4 in a normal game, and just dealt in the introductory game.  The character cards give you resources, building tiles, or success points.

Ginkgopolis is played over a series of rounds.  In a round, players choose a card, resolve actions, and then prepare for the next round.

CHOOSE A CARD: Simultaneously, each player chooses a card from their hand of four and plays it face down in front of their screen.  You can play it by itself, or with a face down building tile from behind your screen.  You may also choose to discard one of your new hand tokens to get a new hand.

RESOLVE ACTIONS: Beginning with the first player, each person reveals their card and takes the corresponding action.  There are three ways to use a card:

  1. Exploit: This is when you played a card by itself.  If an Urbanization card, you get either a resource or a tile from the general supply.  If a building card, you’ll use the city building indicated on the card to get resources, tiles, or success points determined by the height of the building.  Exploiting bonuses can be taken advantage of here.  The card you played is discarded.
  2. Urabanizing: If you play an Urbanization card with a tile, you will be adding a new building to the outskirts.  You’ll take the Urbanization token that corresponds to the card and replace it with the tile.  Take a resource from behind your screen and put it on the tile to mark your ownership.  A construction site pawn will be used to mark that the corresponding card has not been added to the deck.  The Urbanization token is moved orthogonally adjacent to the new tile.  You can then utilize any building adjacent to your new one (as if you had exploited a building card).  The card you played is discarded.
  3. Constructing a Floor: If you play a Building card with a tile, you will be adding a floor to a building.  Resources on the building are returned to their owner, who gets one point per resource (unless the owner is you).  The tile you played goes on top of the building.  If the number of the tile you place is less, you lose points equal to the difference.  If it’s a different color, you discard a resource.  You then put one resource per level on the building, and a Construction site pawn will be used to indicate that the card hasn’t been added to the deck.  The card you played is kept face up in your area to give bonuses.


PREPARE FOR THE NEXT ROUND: Each player then takes the unused cards from their right-hand neighbor, then draws a new card to bring it up to four.  If the deck runs out, the cards for tiles with construction pawns are added to the deck with the discards.  The pawns are then removed.

When the tiles are exhausted for the first time, players can restock it how they wish.  Each player chooses a number of tiles from behind their screen and reveals simultaneously.  You get one point per tile you reveal, and the revealed tiles are mixed up to make a new supply.  The game ends at the end of a round after the tiles are gone a second time, or after a player has placed all of their resources in the city.  Add up your points – those earned in-game, those from certain cards, 2 per new hand token you haven’t played, and points for presence in a city district (2 or more adjacent tiles of the same color).  The winner is the one with the most points.

City building is pretty big right now.  Maybe not as big as zombies, but there seem to be quite a few games coming out with the theme.  This particular game reminds me a bit of Sunrise City, and if I had to classify it, I’d say it was a mix of Sunrise City and 7 Wonders.  It doesn’t really play like either of them, but you get the card drafting and passing of 7 Wonders mixed with the 3-D building of Sunrise City.  However, it looks like it’s a solid game on its own – not too complicated, some good decisions to be made, and relatively quick.  I think it looks very clever – I particularly like how players can give up tiles for points to keep the game going.

A quick mention of the theme – Ginkgopolis is a game set 200 years in the future, in a world where humans have depleted all the resources the earth has offered.  This means that they have to build up, and are very limited in the resources they can you (Ginkgo Biloba is the strongest tree in the world, and has become the symbol of natural building).  I only mention this because I think it’s funny that this game has gotten no attention for its environmental theme, whereas CO2 is getting blasted left and right for it.  It must be the futuristic sci-fi setting for Ginkgopolis; or maybe it’s that the theme is not quite as important to the gameplay.  Just an observation.

So, Ginkgopolis is definitely going on my watch list.  It seems like a pretty good, fun, not too complex game.  Time will tell how it will be viewed, but it looks good so far.  Thanks for reading!




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