Title: Sunrise City
Release Date: October 2012
Publisher: Clever Mojo Games
Recommended Age: 10 and older
Playing Time: 45 minutes (more like an hour)
Sunrise City is a Kickstarter-funded game with players building a city through the use of cards and tiles. I’ve reviewed several Kickstarter games now, and this is the first that’s really felt professional. It may not be an amazing game, but it’s very well made.
As a design, Sunrise City is fairly unique. It’s not quite a Eurogame, certainly not a card game and totally not a traditional board game. As a genre, city-building games are pretty rare, but overall I’d call this some sort of strategy game with a heavy beer-and-pretzels feel to it. It’s a bit more complex than Monopoly (which I guess would be the first city-building game ever), but without the hard feelings of bankrupting a player.
Who Am I?
Game set up starts with people selecting 3 roles. Each player has one role each of the three rounds. Roles give various bonuses which go a long way to giving strategy for a round. But changing means it’s hard to get into your role. For example, you’re a developer one round, a criminal the next and a mayor for the third round. At least the effects of roles is limited to just one part of each round, making it just a bit easier to keep track of whatever the short-term special ability is.
In The Zone
After selecting roles, players then lay down zones for future building. Each color represents the type of zone. For example, yellow is Industrial (Sim City fans will appreciate that), blue is commercial and so on. Purple zones are “wild cards.” If you’re a little color blind like I am, it can be tough to distinguish blue from purple from red. Side-by-side it’s pretty clear, and taking a few tiles out as “sample colors” helps. Players get bonus points for building districts by putting zones of same color near each other.
Once the zones are down, players bid on the zones with tokens. The player going last has a distinct advantage here because the winner isn’t who bids most, it’s who bids last. This makes the game a bit weak as a 2 player game, but an optional rule helps with this.
I Came, I Saw, I Built
After zoning comes the meat of the game: building. Players use their randomly dealt building tiles, making sure the colors on the double-size buildings match the zones beneath (otherwise you can’t play the building). A player then scores for the building, and they get bonus points if the building is on a zone they won a bid on. You get additional points for constructing the right buildings near community centers like fire stations and such. Scoring is interesting. You get points, and every time your points reach a multiple of 10, you get a Benchmark star. If you hit the multiple of 10 exactly, you get two Benchmarks. Usually you want as many points as possible, but if you can hit the score just right, it’s worthwhile to do so.
Once players have used all the building tiles they can, the game goes back to zoning. After three rounds of zoning and building, the player with the most Benchmark stars win the game.
Overall, Sunrise City is a solid game. For the right gaming group, that avoids wargames and isn’t real competitive, there’s fun here. I do wish that at the end, the game board looked more like a built up city, rather than a pile of cardboard. There is strategy here, but all the randomness of the cards makes it tough to formulate anything resembling a long term plan. Anything you come up with can be easily taken down by another player who’s not moving against you by merely making the best play with his random tiles.
Still, considering the price and quality of the components, this is a respectable game to have.
Product Page [Game Salute]