Game Buzz: High Rise

Today, I’m going to take a look at a new city building game called

image by BGG user IngredientX

High Rise is a 1-4 player game designed by Gil Hova and published by Formal Ferret Games.  Since the 2016 publication of The Networks, I’ve been waiting to see Hova’s next big game, and this is it. It’s a city building game that utilizes an action track, which is a really cool mechanism that I wish was in more games.

The board for the game shows the city, and has the action track around the edge. There is also a VP/Corruption board. The game has three modes – introductory, standard, and full. The big difference between the three is length of game – introductory and standard only last two rounds (2020 and 2030), while full adds a third (2010). You’ll have blueprint cards and bonus tiles based on the starting round, and either random or set starting tenant tiles. Also, each player will start with a random floor (except in the full game, where only player #4 does), and begins with their corruption marker at a different spot (-2 for introductory, -1 to -3 for standard, 0 for full). Each player also starts with a 5 story building (except for in the full game). Additionally, each player has a Mogul, which is placed in the Stop Zone on the board, in the spot that matches the number on their Base Construction Yard.

image by BGG user sidusov – setup on Tabletopia

On your turn, you will take your Mogul and move it clockwise around the board. You can go as far as you like, but be aware that player who has the next turn is the player who is furthest back on the track. So if you go halfway around the board on one turn, it’s very likely going to be a while until you get another turn. When you move, you have to move into the next zone – you can’t just take all the actions in a single zone (which is a small grouping of action spaces) if the spaces in front of you are open. Also, you should note that you cannot stop on a space occupied by another player. This is in contrast to games like Patchwork, where if you land on top of another player, you get another turn before they do.

Different actions spaces allow you to do different things. In general, you could gain a specific floor color, draw a random floor, gain an UltraPlastic Floor, trade floors from the bag, construct buildings, and remove corruption. There are also Stop Zones, where you must stop.

In a bit more detail, constructing buildings is where you take floors that are being held on your construction yard and use them to complete different blueprints. Construction yards hold seven floors, and you can hold more if you take an expanded yard and some corruption.   UltraPlastic can be used as any floor, and some blueprints specifically call for it. The buildings are then placed in the appropriate neighborhood. Buildings can be demolished to make way for taller buildings, which gets two floors for the owner of the destroyed building.

A number of the actions allow you to take corruption – drawing extra floors, constructing in the wrong neighborhood, not being the first to that zone, adding extra floors, and so on. Having the most corruption will lose points at the end of the round or use of a power card (depending on the mode of play), and corruption will cost you points at the end of the game. If you get to the end of the corruption track, you have to lose 40 points that you can never get back and start again from the 0. And I love this line from the rules that tells you you can’t get those points back – “We suggest you reflect on the choices you made in the game that led you here.”

Another type of thing you’ll find as you go around the track is tenant tiles. These activate as soon as you land on one, and also when a building gets constructed in a space that is connected to one. Tenant powers are either immediate bonuses, or power cards to save for later use.

When you land in a stop zone, your round is over, and you have to wait for everyone else to catch up. When everyone does, you see who has the tallest building and perform upkeep steps. After the final round, there’s a final scoring, and the player with the most points wins.

image by BGG user mcvert

The big draw for me in this game is the action track. I saw a note in the rules thanking Antoine Bauza for “inventing and refining the One-Way Track” with Tokaido, and that confused me a little bit. I was not really making a distinction between this type of track and the time track which was first seen with Jenseits von Theben and Neuland back in 2004 (Tokaido came out in 2012). I found this interview on Boardgame Babylon where Hova explained that he considers the time track and the one way track to be different – with the time track, the action takes place off the track, whereas the one way track has the actions right on the track. I’m glad to know about that distinction now – this is why he’s the host of Ludology instead of me (among other reasons).

The rest of the game is built around that track. There’s a definite recipe fulfillment aspect, and I like the idea of taking corruption to do more stuff, and penalties in the long run for doing those things. When I first heard about corruption in the game, I was expecting a “being fed to the crocodiles” mechanism a la Cleopatra and the Society of Architects or Hab & Gut, where one person loses if they have the worst showing in something. But no, it’s more like a Feldian pain mechanism if anything.

Overall, this looks like a pretty good city building game with some unique looking components, and I look forward to checking out the full thing at some point in the future. That’s going to do it for me today – stay safe and thanks for reading!

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