Sunrise Lane – A Town on the Rise
Welcome to the neighborhood, my friends! It’s a beautiful place but it needs your thoughtful planning and a little friendly competition to help it thrive.
In Sunrise Lane, players compete to build the most lucrative and attractive neighborhoods. The higher their town rises, the more prestige they will enjoy. Certain city blocks are better investments than others, but timing is everything, and sometimes blocking a fellow builder from a great investment is the way to get ahead! The player with the most clever balance of both short-term scoring and long-term planning will surely rise to the top.
Sunrise Lane is published by Horrible Guild and designed by Dr. Reiner Knizia, a prolific game design mastermind who has brought us many classic hits. It plays in about 45 minutes and offers a “light strategy” experience that can easily be put on the table in between longer games.
Place the game board and Reference tile on the table in easy reach of all the players. Shuffle the cards and place them next to the board to form a draw deck. Then, deal three cards to each player.
Give each player a set of House pieces, and place their corresponding Scoring marker on the board. If playing with two or three players, use all 28 House pieces. If playing with four players, only use 22 House pieces. Finally, give the First Player token to the youngest player. Time to build!
Players take turns clockwise around the table, doing one of two actions:
Build Houses and Parks
To build a House, choose an empty space adjacent to the central space of the board or any space containing House or Park tokens previously placed (by any player). Next, play one or more cards matching the color of that space. For each card played, place one House piece in the chosen space, stacked on top of each other. For each House piece played, immediately score points equal to the number of dots shown on the space itself (e.g. two Houses stacked on a space with two dots is 2 x 2 = 4 points).
Place played cards on a discard pile next to the deck.
After building at least one House, a player may build another House in a space adjacent to the space where they just built, as long as they have cards to do so. A player can keep building Houses this way until they run out of cards.
Once during their turn, when a player may build a House they can choose to build a Park instead. Discard one card of any color to place a Park. Parks follow the same building rules used for Houses, except they do not score any points. Placing Parks can be helpful to reach blocks you want to build on or to block other players.
When a player is finished building, they draw one card from the deck.
If a player doesn’t want to build this turn, they simply take two cards. Easy! After drawing cards players must observe a hand limit of five, discarding excess cards before the end of their turn.
Play continues in quick succession of rounds until any player has two or fewer House pieces left. This triggers the end of the game, but play continues until the end of the round so that all players take the same amount of turns.
Now it’s time to award bonus points, which can offer quite a lot of end-of-game surprises. In the blue sections of the neighborhood, players earn points for building the tallest Houses. In the red sections, players earn points for building the most Houses. Players also earn points for having the most adjacent Houses (on the entire board). In all three of these categories, the first place player earns 10 points, second place earns six points, and third place earns three points.
If you did your math correctly, the Scoring markers will give you your winner! You’ll also be rewarded by the sight of the attractive little city you just made.
Like all Knizia game designs, Sunrise Lane blends well balanced strategic choices with effortless mechanics and wraps it all in a light theme. While I don’t find Knizia games to always be immersive, Sunrise Lane drops in enough quaint English neighborhood vibes to create a unique game experience that does draw on the city building idea quite nicely.
What do I love most about it? Other than the satisfaction of building a little town—which is really quite adorable I must say—it plays really fast! Turns move quickly and you’ll stay engaged the whole time. You have to pay close attention to what other players are doing, as everyone is trying to work an angle to get top bonus points.
I also quite love the Park mechanic. You can use them to skip your way to a big payout elsewhere, or break up another player’s “longest road” bonus. Or maybe you’re quite evil like me and you’ll drop one on a 5-dot space you can’t use yourself.
I played this with all three of my kids (ages 9 through 14) and they all loved it and picked it up quickly. The youngest ones will stare at you as you stumble through the explanation of how to build Houses, but once you take a few turns it will all click and you’ll fly through it.
And, it’s a visual treat. The little town you build is a sight to behold. Quick, light, fun, well balanced, I think it’s worth a buy.
No plastic tray to organize the bits, but the cardboard insert and high quality bags do a fine job. We all thought it would benefit from being a larger board with larger pieces. That being said, the artwork is pretty good and the plastic houses are fun to play with.
Smooth gameplay all around, which we would expect from Dr. Knizia. Enough strategic choices for the adults, without the paralysis of evaluating too many options. Really nice end-game bonus mechanics keeps you engaged on other players’ turns.
Family Fun: 8
Visually appealing, easy to learn, plays fast. Build a quaint neighborhood and take a picture at the end, what’s not to like?
Flat River Games provided The Family Gamers a promotional copy of Sunrise Lane for this review.
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Sunrise Lane - A Town on the Rise
Number of Players: 2-4
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: 45 minutes