Dale Yu: Review of Capital

 

Capital

  • Designer: Filip Milunski
  • Publisher: Granna
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: 60-75 minutes
  • Times played: 4, with review copy provided by Granna

capital

Capital is one of many city building games out this year at Essen 2016. The theme for this is close to the publisher’s heart as it involves building up a new version of Warsaw, the capital city of Poland and the home of the publisher, Granna.

In the game, over the course of 6 epochs (representing many centuries of building), each player will eventually build his own district of the city – it will be limited in space to 12 tiles, some version of a 3×4 grid. There is a small central board which is used to hold the tiles and keep score. There are five double-sided milestone tiles, and they are randomly placed on the five spaces under the tile stacks on the board. Each player starts with a single starting tile and 6 coins.

At the start of each of the 6 epochs, each player is dealt 4 random tiles from the stack for that epoch. Each player examines his hand of tiles, chooses one, and then either immediately discards it for 3 coins or plays that tile to his city district, paying for the tile per the cost printed in the corner. When playing a tile, it must be orthogonally adjacent to at least one other tile in his district.

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Each tile is a 2×2 arrangement of neighborhoods, possibly of different types. When you place the tile next to other tiles, it might cause an expansion of a previously placed area is the colors are contiguous with the neighboring tiles. There are times when you will want to expand a colored area into a larger size and there are other times when you will want to have multiple smaller areas.

Your district is limited in size to 3×4 or 4×3. You are free to choose which alignment to build in, but once you have reached the constraints, you may not place a tile that would cause a district to grow beyond these borders. You can place the tile in any rotational orientation, but once placed, it may not be moved or rotated. Finally, you can choose to build over an existing tile by simply placing the tile on top of the old tile. If you do so, the newly placed tile receives a discount of the cost of the tile which it covers. After all players have built or discarded, the remaining tiles from their hand are passed (clockwise in rounds 1,3,5 and counterclockwise in rounds 2,4,6). Players then make the same decision with their new hand. This continues until all players have had a chance to play or discard four tiles in the epoch.

capital-in-play

At the end of the epoch, there is an income phase and possibly a war phase. Wars happen at the end of Epoch 3 (World War 1) and Epoch 4 (World War 2). At the end of Epoch 3, each player must choose one tile from their district and discard it to the box. If you choose an overbuilt tile, all tiles in that stack are discarded. At the end of Epoch 4, players must choose two tile stacks to discard. In both cases, you may not remove tiles if they would separate your district into two separate areas – all your tiles must still remain as a single connected group of tiles.

Next, you resolve the milestone tile. Again, these tiles were randomly placed at the beginning of the game, and all players have been able to see them for the duration of the game. Each of the tiles has a condition printed on it; whichever player best meets the condition will receive the tile, and then this tile can be immediately placed in their district. Each of the milestone tiles has a scoring special condition printed on it. If there is a tie for the milestone, it goes to the player with the least money at the time.

Finally, players refer to the player aid to score points and earn coins at the end of the epoch.

  • First, players choose a single park area (green) and score for the number of different residential areas (red) adjacent to it.
  • Next, each commercial area (yellow) given 1 coin for each residential area (red) adjacent to it.
  • Each cultural area (purple) gives VPs as printed on the area.
  • Each industrial area (blue) scores coins as printed on the tile; however, there is also a 1VP penalty for each residential area (red) adjacent to an industrial area
  • If you have 2 or more transport tiles, you score 2 points per area with a transport icon in it.
  • Milestone and public buildings score per their printed effect.

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If there is still another epoch to go, shuffle up the tiles for the next epoch and distribute four to each player. If you have completed the 6th epoch, there is a little end-game scoring; namely, each player receives 1 VP per each 5 coins he has at the end of the game. The player with the most VPs wins the game, ties go to the most coins left over.

My thoughts on the game

Capital is a very interesting tile laying game. Players get the feeling of having their own sandbox – as there isn’t anything that the other players can do to your city as it grows; though there is still some interaction between the players in the passing of tiles for drafting. Players can also indirectly affect each other in the competition for the milestone tiles or for particular types of neighborhoods for regular scoring.

The scoring seems fairly well balanced; there doesn’t seem to be a scoring strategy that is consistently better than the others – I have seen cities succeed based on all sorts of different color strategies. In my games, I have tried to focus on what my RHO and LHO are doing, because those decisions will directly influence which tiles I might be given in the passing. It may also help me choose which tiles to select when I’m passing for cash as I might as well deny my opponents from the sorts of tiles that will help them the most.

Depending on your strategy, the cash situation can be anywhere from plentiful to super-tight. If you do not have enough commercial or industrial tiles, you will then have to give up a bunch of tiles for the cash. However, as you generally only have space for 12 tiles over a 24-turn game, you have plenty of turns to use to gain money; you may just not be able to overbuild as much as your opponents.

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The other thing to make sure that you plan for is the destruction of city tiles in the two wars. Sometimes, I try to buy a low cost tile in the first round just to be fodder for the destruction. Since you cannot break up your city grid with the removed tiles, you need to make sure that you have left yourself a decent option. The decision is harder at the end of Era 4 when you now have to remove two tiles. The remodeling after the two wars is a nice mechanism – it both forces you to plan ahead for the tile removal as well as really encouraging your city to grow in different ways.

Capital is one of my favorite new releases from this year. For a 30-40 minute game, there are a lot of decisions to be made. You have to balance both short term (milestone competitions each round) as well as long term planning to succeed. It might be a bit more complex than recent Spiel des Jahres games, but for my group, this is a perfect mid-weight game.

Thoughts from Other Opinionated Gamers

Joe Huber (1 play): Capital bombed with me for two reasons. First, the title; I had no idea to expect a game about Warsaw, and only slowly figured out that this was in fact what the game was about. That didn’t help my appreciation of the game, but beyond this I didn’t feel drafting worked particularly well in this game – there’s enough variety in the tiles that it’s entirely possible not to see a tile vital to one’s strategy, or even one of a group of tiles. As a result, while I expect my experience on a second play might be better, I don’t see a game for me.

Nathan Beeler: This reminded me of the fine tile-laying game, Cities by Martin F, except Capital might have had even a bit more going on. I enjoy the constraints, and trying to craft a strategy while making the best of what you’ve got. My only knock with both games is that the type of things you can do is ultimately limited, and I didn’t feel like there was a whole lot more game to explore after a few goes.

 

Doug Garrett: Interesting and with more depth than the aforementioned Cities, I enjoyed it enough and was glad to play it, but don’t need to make sure it’s in my collection.

 

Dan Blum: So far (after a few plays) I like it. I didn’t find the luck of the tile draw to be as swingy as Joe did, although I suppose a given game could have an odd distribution. My main issue with the game is the graphic design – some public building and milestone effects are not very clear and will need to be looked up in the rulebook until everyone is very familiar with them, and public buildings and milestones are also not differentiated well enough, which is a problem because some effects only count public buildings.

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Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! Dale Y
  • I like it. Nathan Beeler, Doug G., Dan Blum
  • Neutral. Karen M
  • Not for me… Joe H.

 

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About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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3 Responses to Dale Yu: Review of Capital

  1. pdowen3 says:

    Your description reminds me of Between Two Cities with the obvious difference that you are building your own city (district) rather than sharing a city with each neighbor. Or in that respect, perhaps it’s more like 7 Wonders. How would you compare it to those two games? Is it sufficiently fresh and different that it would still be a valuable addition to a collection?

    • Dan Blum says:

      It feels very different from 7 Wonders – it doesn’t really share anything except the drafting (and the ability to get $3 by discarding a tile).

      It’s a bit more similar to Between Two Cities because of the spatial aspect, but that and the drafting are about all they have in common. In Capital scoring takes place every round, you need to have income, tiles can have up to four districts on them, there are public buildings which have unique effects, and there are milestones to compete for which also have unique effects; this makes it a more complex and (to my mind) a more interesting game than B2C.

    • Dale Yu says:

      it definitely shares more with B2C than 7W.

      Unlike b2c, you’re not intimately bound to your neighbors though. You build your own city and are more responsible for your success or failure. Sure, your opponents can influence your play indirectly through the drafting process, but you get to make all the decisions that lead to your final score.

      There is also more of an engine building feel to Capital as you score points/income each round, and there is a fine balance between the two.

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