A to Z Gaming: Sprawlopolis

We built up a sprawling metropolis in Sprawlopolis, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.

Players: 1-4
Time: 15-20 Minutes
Designers: Steven Aramini, Danny Devine, Paul Kluka
Artists: Loïc Billiau, Dalton Cara, Danny Devine
Publisher: Button Shy

Sprawlopolis is a small cooperative card game where players are working together to build up a city with large parks, industrial areas, residential blocks, and commercial districts. At the same time, they’re trying to minimize the number of roads and meet the needs set out by their special scoring cards. If the city beats the requirements of the chosen goals, everyone wins.

Game play

Sprawlopolis is set up by shuffling the deck of 18, then randomly dealing three next to the play area with the scoring condition side up. The start player takes a hand of three cards, and all other players get one card. The remaining cards are placed off to the side, and the top card played out into the build area. Then play is ready to begin.

On their turn, the active player chooses a card from their hand and adds it to the city. This card must be placed either next to an existing card so that at least one block is adjacent to a previously played block or so that it covers a block (or multiple blocks) of previously placed cards. The player then passes the two remaining cards from their hand to the next player clockwise, and finally they draw another card to form their new hand. The next player now has three cards to choose from and takes their turn.

Play continues around the table until all cards have been placed into the city. Then players move to final scoring.

Each of the revealed scoring condition cards shows a number in the upper left corner. The sum of these three numbers forms the players’ target score — they must reach or beat that score to win.

The city will always score for the largest of each zone type, the number of roads (negative points), and the unique scoring from each of the scoring condition cards. For the zones, players find the largest contiguous region that type and then receive one point per block in that largest region. Players subtract one point for each road in their city — roads are continuous stretches of roadway, so there is an advantage to connecting up roads from different cards. Finally, players add points according to of their scoring condition cards. If they meet or beat the target score, all players win. Otherwise, they all lose.

My Thoughts

I picked up this game a couple of years ago after hearing a number of people gush about it. I was a little skeptical that I would enjoy a game with just 18 cards, since I’m more often drawn to larger games with more prominent themes. But as a small game, it was just a small investment, so I thought I’d try it out. And … I’m glad I did!

So far, I have only played this solo, which seems to be very common for this game — more people seem to play it solo than as a co-op game. As a solo game it’s a great puzzle game. I’ll pull it out when I feel like a game, but either I’m home alone or no one else wants to play, and I’ll shuffle up and play 2-3 games in a row. I still lose way more often than I win, but it’s such a quick, snappy game that I don’t even care.

Three Quick Questions

How is it as a 2-player game? Hahahaha – I don’t even know! I’ve only played solo so far. It could be fun with a couple of players, but I don’t think I’d play with more than 2.

How about the art and component quality? This is just a deck of 18 cards, and they are good quality. The art is decent and easy to discern the different types of blocks. It gets the job done!

Will this stay in my collection? Absolutely. It’s a tiny game that takes up almost no space, and its great to pull out when I feel like a puzzle game but no one else is around to play with. Besides, I have a few of the expansions, and I haven’t tried them yet!

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