Monday, April 19, 2004

Sunken City

Sunken City

by Wolfgang Kramer & Michael Kiesling

Rating: B

I played this recently at the Gathering. I had heard several negative comments and one or two positive comments going into this game, so I had somewhat lowered expectations. It exceeeded those expectations, but not overwhelmingly. This is an exploration game with a bit of a screw-your-neighbor component. I'm often rather disappointed by exploration games (eg, Goldland or LostValley) but I found the exploration mechanics in this quite pleasant. The basic idea is that the players are exploring a sunken city by raising streets and buildings and retrieving treasures. The nice feature here though is that Poseidon wanders around (controlled by the players) gradually re-sinking cities and roads. This can be used offensively (sink a building another player needs), defensively (send Poseidon over to a neighborhood you've already explored) or constructively (send Poseidon toward you to sink a neighborhood you've finished so you may raise a new one). Additionally, you can even sink your neighbor which seems rather nasty, but they receive a "Poseidon chip" which grants them a substantial movement bonus which seems to largely offset the penalty of being sunk (and losing some of your accumulated treasures).

The exploration mechanic worked very well and I enjoyed that a great deal. There's a real economy of actions that makes for some interesting, if light-weight planning decisions. As new players, we may have been too agressive in sinking the early leader. In the end, one of the slower and steadier players took the win. Overall, this is a light, family exploration game with some nice options, but it isn't very deep. The components are beautiful and the theme is even engaging to me, and all this mostly makes me wish the game was just a bit richer, strategically. I'll play it again, but given that I enjoyed it more than most others, I doubt I'll find frequent opportunities.

Sunken City info on boardgamegeek

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