Cool Things: Metropolys

Okay, board gamers! This one’s for you. Metropolys is a board game that serves as a strange blend of real estate management and creative bluffing. Each player takes the role of an urban developer and takes turns bidding on properties, attempting to acquire districts to build in that correspond to the goals they are given at the beginning of the game.

Of course, some districts have value in and of themselves and developing a large number of some types of districts carries bonuses as well. Since each player has two objectives that can score them points, figuring out who is doing what, and why is more than a little tricky. The game ends when one player has placed all of their buildings.

Metropolys can appeal to your gamersense in a couple of different ways. It has a strong psychological aspect in that it challenges you to figure out what your opponent is up to. The bidding plays into that, since each player has a limited number of high bids and using them early can leave you powerless to stop other players from snatching up properties in the later game.

I have also found few modern board games that encourage long term planning as well as Metropolys. Most games have a fair element of randomness to them, since that helps inexperienced players keep up and enjoy the game along with the skilled players. In Metropolys, that randomness comes from not knowing exactly what the other player needs to do to win and how they’ll respond to a given situation. But, by the same token, you know exactly what you need to do to win and with a little contingency planning it’s possible to plan and execute several rounds of intense bidding that leave you considerably ahead of other players, which gives great satisfaction and makes you feel something like a supervillain in the midst of a masterful heist. (But why would anyone want to feel like that, right?)

Visually Metropolys can seem kind of busy – the colors aren’t quite as distinct as they could have been, especially as regards lakes (which are an important part of some modes of gameplay) and rivers (which aren’t), and the little tokens that mark the values of some districts pose some logistical problems and add to setup time (but since they also add to gameplay value I’m not going  to complain too much). In short, there’s nothing special about the finishwork of the game. But don’t let that discourage you. Metropolys is a fun and fast game and, since the concept and gameplay is simple, it serves as a good game for families as well as parties. If board games are your thing it’s worth the time to check out.

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