- Designers: Steven Aramini, Danny Devine, and Paul Kluka
- Artist: Danny Devine
- Publisher: Button Shy Games
- Kickstarter Date: September 29th, 2020
Disclaimer: Agropolis, as well as a copy of Sprawlopolis, was provided to us by Button Shy Games for review.
Luke: Sprawlopolis is a game I’ve considered reviewing here in the past, largely because it’s a great game.
Phil: One of the best Button Shy games around.
Luke: But being a few years old and a game that most solo fans are already well aware of, I felt like we’d just be preaching to a choir who had already learned this month’s routine and was waiting for us to hit the rights notes.
Phil: Yet here we are, with Button Shy singing a slightly different but all too familiar tune with the release of Agropolis, a game that acts as its own pocket-sized puzzle while adding to the already expansive world of the original.
Luke: For those unfamiliar, Agropolis is a game where you are trying to expand a vast network of highways through your self-made city, but the mayor has provided you with some strict guidelines as to how he wants to see the roads branch out.
Phil: On the back of each highway card, there’s a unique goal. At the start of each game, 3 goals are randomly selected and used, meaning every game has a little spice of the unknown.
Luke: The numbers on those goal cards determine the score you are reaching for, often just out of reach and tantalizingly difficult to hit. But for those of you who have mastered the system by now, there’s an advanced difficulty mode introduced here. Depending on the combination of cards in play, you can make the game even more difficult, ramping up that already steep point threshold.
Phil: Once the goals are selected, a random starting card sets the scene in the middle of the table, and your brain burning construction project commences.
Luke: Each turn sees you holding 3 cards, selecting which one to connect to your current layout. Cards have to be set where they are oriented the same way, but otherwise, you have pretty free rein over how you arrange things. Hell, you can bulldoze an entire section and layer a new card over parts of the old set-up.
Phil: But while you have a lot of freedom of how you approach the game, you’ll be thinking about a number of factors that contribute to end-game scoring. Firstly, your largest grouping of each terrain type scores you points, meaning you’ll want to chain cards in obtuse manners to get those hunks of yellow grain growing.
Luke: Next, you’ll need to consider your roads. At the end of the game, each road you have is -1 point, encouraging you to condense as much as possible.
Phil: Oh, but that goal card would earn me a good bunch of points if I just set these roads waaaaaaaaaaaaaay over here…
Luke: And quickly you start to see the conundrums that form. With 3 cards in your hand each turn, that doesn’t seem like many choices, but then you can rotate them, lay them over other cards, place them this way and that, and soon you have a seemingly infinite number of permutations.
Phil: You can certainly suffer from analysis paralysis, but that’s fine. This is primarily built to be a solo game, and while you caaaaaaaaaaaaaan play it with more, you’ll have a much better time tackling this alone.
Luke: And wow, have I never had such a great time muttering to myself incessantly while I consider the layouts of a highway system in my life. Much like the original Agropolis teases your brain in a way that is immediately satisfying. Whether you’re taking long, drawn-out turns to consider every option or you’re just diving in headfirst, this little wallet packs a big punch.
Phil: And it only gets punchier when you consider the free Combopolis expansion.
Luke: Oh god… the games did a fusion dance?!?
Phil: With a svelte pack of 6 cards, you too can make these two games into one gigantic, sprawling cityscape of decisions. Setting a deck of Sprawlopolis cards to one side and Agropolis cards to the other, players will get 3 goal cards (1 from each game and one from the combo pack). Then, using another card from the combo pack as your starting location, you’re off to the races as always.
Luke: Except this time, your hand is 2 cards, 1 from each set.
Phil: Meaning that, in order to score well and not run out of options too early, you’ll need to balance how regularly you are adding cards from one set or the other. You’ll thread the needle of opportunity so you can fill out your board neatly and efficiently.
Luke: It’s an incredibly smart implementation and one that’s so dang easy to set up. Half of the battle to get a solo game (or really any board game) to the table is set up time, and Agropolis handles this so well.
Phil: It does help that it’s in a wallet.
Luke: Even still, the ability to whip this out at a moment’s notice and start playing makes it so accessible it’s hard to ignore.
Phil: If there’s one complaint to be had, the color palette this time around is a little more garish than its predecessor.
Luke: Sure, but all the colors had to be different for obvious reasons, and I think there’s a charm to the bolder, richer aesthetic this time around.
Verdict: If you love Sprawlopolis, you’ll love Agropolis just as much, adding some challenge options while letting you combine both into a hefty test of your skill. And if you haven’t had the opportunity to try the original for yourself, you owe it to yourself to give this series a go.
If this is a game that interests you, be sure to stop by their Kickstarter page and back a copy for yourself right now!