Sunrise City. For those who haven't heard, Sunrise City is a new city building game from Clever Mojo Games that combines tile placement, bidding, and strategic planning. You are one of the founders of Sunrise City and it is your job to develop the best city possible.
My first impression of the game, as we began to set it up, was that "this looks a lot like Infinite City." But that view didn't last long! The 60 zone tiles are in fact the same size as the tiles in Infinite City, but there is oh so much more to this game (we'll get to that in a little bit). The game also comes with 70 Benchmark Tokens, 28 Bid Markers (7 each in 4 different colors), 20 Floor Markers, 16 Role Cards, 60 Building Tiles, 1 City Hall Start Tile, 5 Community Tiles, 1 Protester Meeple, and a Scoreboard.
Although the copy was only a prototype, the pieces were clearly constructed to resemble their final construction. I was particularly impressed with the heft of the building tiles. If you have ever played Survive: Escape from Atlantis, the building tiles are about the thickness of the mountain tiles from Survive (about a 1/4 inch thick). These tiles are the equivalent of two of the zone tiles stuck together, or the shape of a large domino. What makes these tiles so great is that, because you use them to construct the city, the thickness really helps the city come alive as you begin stacking them up.
Now onto the game play...
The goal of the game is not to score the most points. It is to earn the right points by strategically placing buildings that allow you to reach the top of the scoring track and earn the most benchmarks. There are various activities involved that will earn you points. If your marker ever lands on the star at the top of your
score track exactly, you earn 2 benchmarks. Any time you reach the top but overshoot the star, you earn 1 benchmark.
The game is played in 3 rounds. Each round consists of four phases: Preparation, Zoning, Bidding, and Constuction. Before you begin, everyone drafts 3 roles, one role for each round. At the start of your preparation phase, you will choose one of those rolls to play. These rolls provide players with a special ability for the round. They also help determine the first player in each round (The card with the lowest number will go first). You then draw 4 building tiles and 4 zone tiles.
Once the zoning phase is complete you move onto the bidding phase. In this phase you are bidding on the zones where you want to place your building tiles. It is important to remember that you must own at least one connected zone in order to construct a building in a given area, so this is an important step in the game. Each player has 6 tokens with which to bid. When the bidding is completed only the top most bid markers count and the rest are redistributed to their owners.
And that's it! You complete these phases for three rounds and the player with the most Benchmark Tokens wins!
The only issue I have with the game is that there is a slight disconnect thematically with the roads. They don't seem to go any where, and while the theme of not being able to build buildings over the roads on the ground floor makes perfect sense, the fact that the roads tend to not connect to one another, seems a little odd. They usually end up as little circles all over town. Like a said, not a problem with the mechanics of the game, just a little weird visually. Regardless, I love the game play and think that it is a great middle of the road strategy game - not too simple, not too complex. I would place it right between Infinite City and Power Grid.
So, if you are a fan of tile placement games, I would definitely recommend giving this one a try. It is fun, relatively quick, and has enough strategy to keep things interesting. I can't wait to see the final product, as I am confident that it will have beautiful components to go along with its solid game play. Also, if you pledge $50 or more to its KickStarter you will get the promo roles and community tiles too. These will definitely add even more fun to the game, so check it out!