Designer: Dave Schultze
Publisher: Gridopolis Games
2-4 players 20-60 minutes ages 8+
Time to teach & learn: 5-6 minutes
Gridopolis is a game of construction and capture. Players build a multi-level modular board and then use pawns and kings to jump and capture their opponent’s pieces. Teleporters and blockers present challenges and opportunities in equal measure. And the game board itself will shape every decision you make, because each player has a chance to add new elements to it as the game unfolds!
Gridopolis has a wonderful set of basic building components that snap together to create multiple game boards. There are pads that make up the spaces the pawns and kings will move on. There are links that join pads together. The links have little nubbins that connect to posts, so game boards can be stacked together to form a three dimensional play space.
Gridopolis is aptly named, because you’ll feel like you’ve created a small cityscape each time you play.
There are suggested layouts for your first few games, but once you understand the basic concept, the sky’s the limit – each game board in Gridopolis can rise from the imagination of the players.
Each player has six large colorful pawns to begin the game. The pawns can be flipped over to become Kings during the game. There are Kingerizer pieces in each player color; they nest into the pad spaces along the edge of the board to indicate a player’s home row.
There are also Hyper-pads and blocker tokens that will create different patterns of movement on the board when they are in play.
Once the Gridopolis board is built (including Hyper-pads), pawns are placed on opposite sides, separated by a neutral unoccupied area. Now you’re ready to play!
You’ll find many echoes of classic, almost universally known, games like Checkers and Chess in Gridopolis.
Your turn consists of selecting a pawn to move one pad (one space) in any direction, including diagonal movement AND including moves up or down! Every pawn has a home row marked by the Kingerizer pieces. A pawn’s move can never be backwards toward its home row.
Jumping is not only allowed in Gridopolis, it’s the essence of the game. You can jump over your own pieces to extend a pawn’s movement. If you jump over an opponent’s piece, you capture it and remove it from the board. And just like it’s classic cousin, you can chain together multiple jumps to capture multiple pieces in a single move. You can even sacrifice your own piece by jumping off the board in order to make a capture! Your opponent gets the Kamikaze piece, so this move is one of desperation, usually.
If you can maneuver a pawn to the home row of an opponent, it flips over and becomes a King. Kings move just like pawns EXCEPT they get an optional bonus move after the first. This extra move gives you a ton of flexibility and adds new decisions and strategies to every turn.
If you land on a Hyper-pad, your piece beams immediately to another space with an empty hyper-pad on the board. The Gridopolis board may look big, but with even just a few hyper-pads, no space is safe… or very far away!
Envisioning and anticipating possible jumps across multiple levels makes Gridopolis a lovely dance between aggression and safety. Can you extend your pawn’s reach without risking a capture or exposing your home row, allowing other players to create kings?
For a longer game, you can play until only one person has a piece remaining on the board. For a shorter game, you play a set number of turns and score based on how many pieces you collect and how many you have remaining on the board. High score wins.
Planning for the unknown sets Gridopolis apart.
Instead of moving a pawn or king on your turn, each player has two additional options:
you may place a blocker token on the board
you may add a new space to the board.
A blocker token is played to an unoccupied pad. That space is eliminated from play for the rest of the game.
To add a new space to the board, you select pieces from a mini-construction kit each player starts with at the beginning of the game. You have three pads (with connector links) and two posts. You can add a space to any level. You can even add a level to the board with a post!
These options blow the game wide open.
The board is not a static thing in Gridopolis. You have to account for and anticipate not only where your opponent might move but what your opponent might do to change the very landscape of the game!
If the board was too sprawling, this could lead to brain-lock. By keeping the spaces of the game board limited, Gridoplolis encourages players to consider their options from different angles and perspectives in a very literal and fun way!
It’s a tricky thing to build a game on the back of such well known classics. There are so many poor examples floating through the world of games. They invite comparison with the greats and almost always are found wanting.
What Gridopolis accomplishes is special and noteworthy. It strikes a lovely balance between familiar and new elements. It offers players a fun remix of the original. The classic is still recognizable in some form, but Gridopolis sings to new generations of players with a voice that is distinctive enough to rise up from the chorus of wannabes.
Gridopolis combines the Lego-like joy of building with a meditative fun akin to a game of 3-D chess versus Mr Spock on the Enterprise. And, as Gridopolis is the first in a series of games using these same components, it’s encouraging to imagine many new paths to Major Fun building from this common ground.
Written by: Stephen Conway