Author Topic: Ginkgopolis  (Read 4846 times)

Offline Decar

  • Owner
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 6719
  • Merit: 317
  • Shut up and take my money!
    • View Profile
    • tehill.net
Ginkgopolis
« on: December 21, 2017, 07:44:05 AM »
Ginkgopolis is a wonderful card and tile-laying game from the French designers at Pearl Games.  Most of the people who play it seems to really enjoy it and regard it very highly.  So, I thought I would try and track down a copy, which proved somewhat difficult.  Nothing like a challenge to get me started.  I was very lucky and able to get a copy in a shop in Belgium and as far as I could tell, the last retail copy of the game in Europe (excluding St Helena)!


Image Courtesy of BGG

The theme is a little unusual, so I'll start with the mechanics. At its core ginkgopolis is an area majority, city-building game.  Both players take it in turns to choose an action from a hand of cards, which will ultimately benefit them.  There are essentially 3 actions the cards can provide:

1) Use of Building (which will generate you a type of resource)
2) Build a Tile on the outskirts of the city (which also allows you to use adjacent buildings)
3) Build a Tile on top of another tile (which allows you to claim passive bonus and claim ownership)

During a round of play, a player will draw a new card from a communal deck, before selecting their action.  The deck comprises of cards for each building in the city, and one card for each area than can be expanded into (labelled A-I).

At the start of the game each player is allocated some passive bonuses, which grants the player a bonus every time they play one of the aforementioned actions.  These initial cards also provide starting resources.  Passive Bonuses collected later in the game can also also allow you to score different points at the end of the game.


Image Courtesy of BGG

As I started to mention, the theme is a little weird.  It's set in a sort of post-apocalyptic enviro-renaissance where you humble town-folk decide to build their buildings within/around Ginkgo trees.  Ginkgo trees are kinda interesting because they're the missing link between conifers and seed-bearing trees as well as living for epochs and being particularly hardy, even surviving fires; which is a claim most trees don't get the brag about.  It has to be said that if trees had pubs, ginkgo trees would be that old-hard as nails bloke who'd tell you about that one-time when something unbelievable happened without relying on exaggeration.  But knowing that isn't going to help you win.  The theme is lightly pasted over the top of this strategic tile placement game and provides an opportunity to share some very colourful and downright user-friendly artwork.

Let's get the the crux of the game.  It's a score the most point afair and there are only a couple of ways to score points (ginkgo leaves).
1) You claim the majority of a single area/colour on the board
2) You score each time a bonus ability happens
3) You are paid points when another tile is built on top of yours.



In order to build tiles, you need resources.  These are the little blocks that get placed on each building.  The number of blocks you require are based on the level of the building; the taller it gets the more expensive it is to build.  You'll also need a collection of  tiles to build.  The tiles come in 3 sets Red/Yellow/Blue and each of these has a primary function (Using a Building).  Red tiles give you resources to build things, Blue tiles allow you to draw more tiles into your collection, and Yellow tiles simply give you more ginkgo points.  Each of the buildings in the set are numbered 1-21.  If you need to build a lower value tile on top of a higher value card, you need to pay the difference in resources as extra when building them.


Image Courtesy of BGG

Tiles are pulled from a communal deck and hidden behind your screen; you can only build buildings you have, which makes tiles a resource.

Hopefully, you've got a sense of how closely interlinked all of the components are, if you do one thing, another thing is effected.  There's a subtle balance unfolding on each turn.  Speaking of component quality, they're all top-notch.  It's what I've come to expect to be honest, so although, there is nothing outstanding, the tiles are chunky, the cards are good.  I really like the ginkgo point tokens and the other wooden bits and bobs.  That shouldn't be confused with the artwork.  There is tons of it, and it's all stylistic and clean.  Each player gets a player screen, though I'm not sure why, you can count the number of resource tokens a player has; it does provide an excuse for different artwork produced on each of them. It also acts as a handy reference to the actions you can perform.



Image Courtesy of BGG

I can't get over just how much art there is in this game.  A lot of games try to make up for lack of content with some nice-shiny artwork.  This isn't the case here, the game could stand on its own and I doubt I'd like it any less if it was drawn in crayon.  The art is a perfect compliment to the solid design.

If you've read my other reviews you'll know I'm a fan of abstract games, and part of that is enjoying games that have high levels of interaction.  Ginkgopolis manges to double-tick the player-interaction check-box for me.  The most significant way of scoring points is by having the majority of resources blocks in a given area of tiles of the same colour.  So an essential mechanic is trying to decide if I should build a tile to increase ownership or build a tile to break large areas apart.  As with most games, it's usually the ability to do two things with a single move that makes it a strong one.  The number of options available is quite astounding, though it's usually quick easy to determine the most valuable moves in a single turn.  Building tiles isn't particularly simple though, if there is a square of contention, building on top of another tile can easily provide points to your opponent.

But it doesn't stop there though, a more trivial game would have left the player interaction there, but instead, Ginkgopolis does a little bit more.  Do you remember that deck of cards you had with all those available options you had?  Well you're going to draft it.  That's right: after each turn you swap cards with an opponent and have the opportunity to make the most of their hand, that is before you have to give it back.



The only negative experience I've had about the game was the rulebook, but I can't explain why.  It's very clear, as far as I can tell all the corners are covered neatly.  All the actions are explained and there are several examples to clarify points of confusion.  I wondered if there were perhaps some transliteration issues, it's almost too sterile.  I think the issue may be to do with the layering of the rules.

But that's the fundamentally brilliant thing about Ginkgopolis, all the parts are glued together; and each of the parts are streamlined. Tiles effect resources, resources effect which cards you play, the cards you play effect which tiles you have, everything just moves along.  'Interwoven' is probably the right word to use.  The rulebook certainly doesn't fail, but having read it, and having explained it to my wife, it feels like we're about to play a complex game; but it truly isn't.  Ginkgopolis only lasts 35-50 minutes and it certainly doesn't overstay its welcome.  The number of actions at any one time is quite limited; the hard bit to explain is how all the parts affect each other.  To express the rules simply: you're going to have a hand of cards, you need to pick one and if that's what you want to do.

Strategy is difficult; to truly master this game is going to take some serious forethought and commitment.  But thankfully, it's extremely light to play.  As I started to explain, each of the tiles in front of you, will have an action card associated with it.  During a round of play, in theory you know which cards are going to come up.  And you can be relatively sure you know you'll get a chance to play it, though it's never certain.  What I like is there are more than one way to score points.  Investment is key, building lots of low-level early buildings will provide you with points in the mid-end game.  But your economy of resources will be tight.  It's possible to acquire a lot of cards which generate you points every time you play certain actions.  You could make lots of small coloured areas, or make giant ones.  It's great to see that each strategy is carefully tied to the core mechanic.

I managed to snap a couple of pictures of our first game:



As you can see, my wife managed to claim a very very large area of yellow, which took up most of our board.  Only 5-6 points separated us at the end and for the last 2-3 turns of the game we were juggling our actions to get our final Coup De Grâce (an apt phrase to use for a French game  ^-^ ).  During our first game, we were a little unsure of a couple of things, but after 4-5 short turns we got into the swing of it.  We both really enjoyed our time playing it.  If anything we thought the game was a bit short, thankfully it turns out there was a whole 2nd phase we both missed out on!

The End game is interesting, the game can end once a player has placed all 25 of the resource blocks onto the city, or it can end when no more tiles can be drawn from the communal deck.  However, the first time this happens, players may return tiles from their behind their screen to the communal deck in order to score points; which is another winning strategy!

Summary
It's a big big shame that Ginkgopolis isn't in print.  I know lots of people talk about games that deserve reprints, but this one really does need to be.  It feels like an unpredictable blend of 7 Wonders with Quadropolis.  You're building an engine to provide you with more options, but you're both working together to create a cityscape in front of you.  I say it's unpredictable because much like the rulebook, it's a hard game to explain; on paper, it sounds crazy.  I know I've not done it justice, it's a game that unfolds as you experience it; you appreciate what a fine balance of mechanics it truly is.

25 thumbs up from us  :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y) :(y)

Some good news is you can play Ginkgopolis online: Those crafty people at boiteajeux have made it possible:
http://www.boiteajeux.net/index.php

Linkback: https://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=3717.0
« Last Edit: December 21, 2017, 07:46:44 AM by Decar »

Offline franks

  • Marquis
  • ***
  • Posts: 505
  • Merit: 26
  • I love Carcassonne
    • View Profile
Re: Ginkgopolis
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2017, 03:07:11 PM »
Oh how you tease us with such greatness!

I have heard other good things about this game. Let's hope it gets back into print at some point!

Great review by the way!!!
Franks

Wanna play Carc? Can we add just one more expansion?

Offline Decar

  • Owner
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 6719
  • Merit: 317
  • Shut up and take my money!
    • View Profile
    • tehill.net
Re: Ginkgopolis
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2017, 03:33:11 PM »
I did find a copy for sale, but they only ship to Slovenia or Herzegovina. And another copy selling for 170Euros.

I decided to email the publsiher to see if they had plans of a reprint any time soon.  Will let you know if I hear anything.

Offline Rich_The_Fish

  • Marquis
  • ***
  • Posts: 448
  • Merit: 21
    • View Profile
Re: Ginkgopolis
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2017, 04:11:21 PM »
Really enjoyable review Decar, merit from me. I guess this was the game you mentioned recently (I'd forgotten the name), glad you really enjoyed it after all the effort it took to get hold of it! I'm looking forward to watching a few videos of this before trying my luck at tracking it down in a café to give it a whirl.

Offline Decar

  • Owner
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 6719
  • Merit: 317
  • Shut up and take my money!
    • View Profile
    • tehill.net
Re: Ginkgopolis
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2017, 02:53:07 AM »
Hope you enjoy it!  I recall that Rahdo's playthrough isn't terrible, but it is a little long.

I think this guy did a reasonable job, but isn't a professional video recorder, so had some technical issues!


Offline Rich_The_Fish

  • Marquis
  • ***
  • Posts: 448
  • Merit: 21
    • View Profile
Re: Ginkgopolis
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2017, 03:13:24 AM »
Cheers, I'll definitely check out these recommendations.

Offline Decar

  • Owner
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 6719
  • Merit: 317
  • Shut up and take my money!
    • View Profile
    • tehill.net
Re: Ginkgopolis
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2017, 03:44:57 AM »
I got a reply from the publisher:

Quote
Hi Tom

Unfortunately, no reprint is planned in the near future for Ginkgopolis, the demand for this game being too weak.
Seasons Greetings!

 >:(

Offline franks

  • Marquis
  • ***
  • Posts: 505
  • Merit: 26
  • I love Carcassonne
    • View Profile
Re: Ginkgopolis
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2017, 07:36:12 AM »
 :'(

Offline Decar

  • Owner
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 6719
  • Merit: 317
  • Shut up and take my money!
    • View Profile
    • tehill.net
Re: Ginkgopolis
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2017, 09:02:08 AM »
Sad face indeed  :'(

I left a post on BGG:  Do you want a reprint?

Offline Decar

  • Owner
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 6719
  • Merit: 317
  • Shut up and take my money!
    • View Profile
    • tehill.net
Re: Ginkgopolis
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2018, 03:47:12 AM »
There's an implementation of Ginkgopolis on http://www.boiteajeux.net .  I've not tried it but wouldn't mind giving it a go.  Turns can be played out over a number of days, so would like to give it a try.  Franks, Rich The Fish are you interested in creating an account and giving it a go?

Offline franks

  • Marquis
  • ***
  • Posts: 505
  • Merit: 26
  • I love Carcassonne
    • View Profile
Re: Ginkgopolis
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2018, 10:55:40 AM »
Hi Decar, apologies for the late response. I'm just back from a 4 day trade show & conference.

I feel like I've got too many things on the go to take this on, at this time, though I am intrigued by the game and the version. I have very little experience with on-line board game implementations but looks like they've done a fairly good job with this title!

Cheers,

Offline Decar

  • Owner
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 6719
  • Merit: 317
  • Shut up and take my money!
    • View Profile
    • tehill.net
Re: Ginkgopolis
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2018, 02:15:29 AM »
Sad face indeed  :'(

I left a post on BGG:  Do you want a reprint?

After over 100 people requesting a reprint, Sébastien Dujardin from Pearl Games took the time to reply:

100 people were never going to persuade them, but it's a positive sign we may see something similar in the years to come!

Offline franks

  • Marquis
  • ***
  • Posts: 505
  • Merit: 26
  • I love Carcassonne
    • View Profile
Re: Ginkgopolis
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2018, 07:05:09 AM »
Decar, nice to see your efforts, somewhat, payoff.

I my mind even though 'only' about 100 people responded, I think this ask received more attention than others that have rallied for reprints, etc.

I look forward to see what iteration they come up with in the future!

Offline asp204

  • Vassal
  • *****
  • Posts: 71
  • Merit: 0
    • View Profile
Re: Ginkgopolis
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2018, 04:12:42 AM »
That’s a great review! Maybe I’ll pick up a copy of the game sometime in the future! :)

Offline Decar

  • Owner
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 6719
  • Merit: 317
  • Shut up and take my money!
    • View Profile
    • tehill.net
Re: Ginkgopolis
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2018, 04:27:15 AM »
That’s a great review! Maybe I’ll pick up a copy of the game sometime in the future! :)

Thanks asp204!  Good luck finding a copy. You may get lucky in Canada, to my knowledge it was the last place to sell out at retail.


Share via delicious Share via digg Share via facebook Share via furl Share via linkedin Share via myspace Share via reddit Share via stumble Share via technorati Share via twitter