Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Xavier Georges


No. of Players:
2 - 5



For this Ginkgopolis-expansion author Xavier Georges has followed a method we know especially from QUEEN GAMES, because the expansion set does not feature one coherent set of new rules, but instead it is split down into a total of six different modules which can be used together with the base game in any combination.

In fact, one of the modules included in this set does not need any additional playing materials, because it just features a new rule for the circulation of the Building cards and Expansion cards between the players. Apart from choosing one card to play, the players now may choose one additional card which they may keep, so that only a hand of two cards will be passed on to the next player. This innovation certainly will give the players some more control on their action for the following turn, but it comes at the price that the gameflow will slow down a bit. Especially deep thinking gamers will take this rule as an opportunity to increase their planning efforts, and this will take a bit of speed out of the game.

Apart from adding everything needed to host a fifth player, the expansion also adds new playing material in the form of buildings. Whereas the highest value of buildings in the basic game was "20", the expansion now increases each colour-group of buildings by five tiles to offer a maximum value of "25". The new buildings are kept apart from the standard Building tiles, and if a player wants to draw such a tile he will have to spend more of his "drawing allowance" because it costs more to acquire such a high-value tile. In fact, the new Building tiles actually belong to two modules, and so the tiles with values from "21" to "23" work pretty much like standard Building tiles, with the exception that they offer new conditions to score victory points in the final scoring. The buildings with value of "24" and "25" are different, because they are considered to be Prestige buildings which cannot be replaced. Thus, a player who has placed such a building cannot be displaced!

The most complex element of this expansion set are the new green Park tiles. They form a separate drawing stack and can be acquired like ordinary Building tiles, but they follow an unique set of rules. Thus, a player may choose to place a Park tile with the "expansion" action, and apart from using the powers of neighboring buildings he will immediately score victory points equal to all Park tiles connected with his newly placed tile. In addition, the Park tiles also will influence the final scoring, since they will be considered for determining the majority in all city districts neighboring a whole Park. This opens up a whole range of new strategic possibilities, but once again this added complexity will have a palpable influence on the flow of the game.

The expansion actually derives its name from the new "Specialist" cards, and just like the Character cards the Specialists will be drafted by the players at the beginning of the game. So, the players now will begin the game with three standard Characters and one Specialist, and in difference to the standard Characters the Specialists will offer the players some rather unique powers will will come to bear either during the game or at the final scoring. It must be conceded that the Specialists really are masters of their trade, because their special abilities will have a considerable impact on the strategy of their owners and of the other players. For example, the "General Counsel" will double the amount of victory points earned by a displaced player, whereas the "Artist" may perform the "heightening" action with lower number Building tiles without facing a penalty. The "Banker" on the other hand may use victory points earned during the game to purchase additional resources, and the "Master Architect" allows an instant two-storey "heightening" action. All of this seems to be quite strong indeed, and it will be interesting to see whether the Specialists really are balanced in a way to avoid the predominance of a player owning a particular Specialist.

Finally, the Specialists-module can be used together with the "Events" module which introduces four different kinds of special events. These new special Events tiles will either be drafted by the players or assigned in consideration of the chosen Specialists. A player may decide to use an Event tile in addition to his normal turn action, and once again these Event tiles may allow some powerful one-time actions which may greatly influence the current situation of the game.

Quite interestingly, the modules included in Ginkgopolis - The Experts cover quite a range of playing tastes, going from the introduction of some moderate randomness to highly strategic elements. As explained in the Ginkgopolis-review, the basic game needs a game or two to be fully mastered, and so the players should refrain from using Ginkgopolis - The Experts until they feel well at home with the basic rules. At this point the variety introduced by the new expansion will be welcomed, and depending on the players' taste the different modules can be introduced in a stepwise fashion in order to experience Ginkgopolis in some rather new ways.

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Copyright & copy; 2014 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany