Neotopia – Build a Harmonious Futuristic City
“The year is 2055.
A group of entrepreneurs set track to create the most advanced city on the whole planet: Neotopia“
It is 2055. You and your fellow visionaries assume the roles of enterprising city architects, set on forging the most technologically advanced urban landscape imaginable. The key to your success hinges on the harmonious integration of the city’s three regions.
Neotopia is a competitive pattern-building marvel designed by Orlando Sá and André Santos. It is tailored for 2-4 players and brought to life by Arcane Wonders. Players strategically construct Projects and assemble clusters of energy tokens in their chosen color to amass the highest point total. A session of Neotopia spans 30-60 minutes and caters to players age 8+.
Player count determines the number of rounds in a game of Neotopia. On a your turn you must perform three actions. These actions are either drawing a Project card, or moving an Element from a Factory into an adjacent region. You’ll do the same thing at least twice, but could do it a third time if desired. After taking actions, a player may optionally score a Project card.
Draw a Project Card
Draw a Project Card from the Offer (display of four cards) or the top of the deck. There is no hand limit. Replenish the Offer at the end of the turn.
Move an Element
Move one Element from a Factory (the lines of tokens between regions) to an adjacent region. Place the Element token next to a previously placed token, or in the center if the region is empty. If you happen to cover a Bonus token with an Element, place it near your Character card for later use. Players also gain Bonus tokens when reaching certain positions on a Region’s scoring track.
Should a Factory ever be empty, immediately refill it by moving the four Element tokens from the Production tile in the center onto the factory. Flip the current Production tile to reveal four Element icons. Place these elements on the next Production tile in the stack. Discard the current Production tile.
Building a Project Card
You may score a Project card if you have Elements in a configuration that matches a Project card in your possession anytime after moving an Element into a Region. The configuration of Elements must mirror a group of Elements on the board; but the orientation of the pattern doesn’t matter.
There are two other important things to note in regards to scoring: the Diverse City rule and building colors. The Diverse City rule simply means you cannot build a Project card in a region if the last card built in the same region shares the same type.
Project cards with buildings depicted will either score two points if the building matches your player color, or four points if it matches another player’s color.
At the end of your turn, refill the face up cards in the Offer back to four. Turn passes to the next player in clockwise order.
Using Bonus Tokens
Bonus Tokens give great little advantages that can be used once per turn, even immediately after gaining one. Spend a bonus token by discarding it to take the free action represented on it, in addition to your three actions. There’s no limit to the number of tokens you can have, but you can only play one per turn.
End Game and Final Scoring
When you flip the last production tile over, begin the endgame for Neotopia. Refill the Factory as usual and finish your turn. Finish the current round, then play one final round so every player gets a final turn.
Begin by scoring every player’s biggest cluster of Elements in each of the three Regions. A cluster is a grouping of Elements of the same color adjacent to each other. You’ll score one point per Element in the cluster in that Region’s score track.
Next, use the scorepad to tally each player’s score. Write down points for the region with the highest and second highest scores. For the lowest scoring region, triple the points. Lastly, players score three points for each of their unused bonus tokens. If there’s a tie in any Region for lowest, players may choose which score to triple. Total all the scores and the player with the highest wins!
I love city building games, logging countless hours playing Sim City in my younger years. This is what piqued my interest in Neotopia. Due to the box art, I anticipated a game involving laying out tiles to construct a city. However, the reality is different. Despite Project cards depicting various city features like parks or buildings, there’s a lack of visual coherence between the vibrant token patterns and these projects. The theme is somewhat abstract, and could have easily been bug tokens, like in Hive.
Theme aside, Neotopia is a tightly constructed and enjoyable puzzle that often results in close scores. It’s also unlike many puzzley games that tend to feel like multiplayer solitaire. Every player’s placement of Elements influences future turns, occasionally aiding or impeding others. The standout mechanic here is pattern building; seamlessly bringing all aspects of the game together.
What I found most interesting in Neotopia is the scoring itself. The way Project cards score means you earn more points for completing a project of an opponents color. While scoring yourself, you risk adding tokens of your opponents color into clusters that benefit them. Second, it’s critical to balance scoring in all regions, or you might miss out on a better multiplier if the lowest scoring region is too low. In games we played, the lowest scoring multiplier catapulted the winner’s score up.
Components and Player Count
The components steal the show in Neotopia. The Element tiles are made from chunky, super-smooth plastic that provides a nice table presence. If you like tactile games, Neotopia will scratch that itch.
The rules take only a turn or two to understand completely. The box says 8+, which seems about right, but this isn’t a theme that will excite younger players.
In terms of player count, four players works better than two because it results in more Elements hitting the board which leads to more scoring opportunities each turn.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Neotopia from Arcane Wonders Games for this review.
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Neotopia - Build a Harmonious Futuristic City
Number of Players: 2-4
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: 30-60 minutes