Review: Sunrise City

SunriseCity-box[1]By Paco Garcia Jaen

My reviews are based on a first-game session approach to the game. I sit down, play the game with my friends (or whoever) for the first time and then record my impressions. I do this because I believe that a game that manages to grip you from the start is a better game than one that you have to play a few times before you warm up to it.

This review is a bit different. This review is based on my first impressions of Sunrise City, and the first impression of another 7 people who have played the game for the first time today. So you can trust this review to be more than just one opinion.

But first things first. The game.

Sunrise City is another game from the guys at Clever Mojo Games. After the overwhelming success of Alien Frontier in Kickstarter and beyond, they decided to try a repeat. They repeated. Once more, with more success. A lot more success.

This time, though, the game is all about building a city.

The rules and game flow are truly simple. Played in three rounds, the objective of the game is to grow the city by placing buildings in the more convenient locations in order to win points. Every 10 points turn into a star. At the end of the game, the player with more stars is the winner and the remaining points act as a tie breaker.

pic1085114_md[1]The first thing to jump up is the components when you open the box. There is an unboxing video that will give you a precise idea of the quality, published in the unboxing section of the website. Suffice to say the components are second to none in quality.

The rules come in a fairly thick paper, full colour and excellent layout. Everything is illustrated and referenced. All the phases of the game easy to find, all the steps in the right places. We had to look for rules twice during our game. Took the best part of 20 seconds to get there and find out the answer we needed. The last pages with the character descriptions are a very good reference point for any in-game clarification.

There are two types of tiles. One to create the land in which the buildings will be placed, and the building themselves. The land tiles are rigid and well laminated. Easy to handle and with vivid colours. There are five types of terrain. Industrial, residential, commercial and parks. The fifth is a wildcard type terrain on which you can place any type of building.

The building tiles, which you place on the terrain tiles are thick. I mean, proper thick. Like 0.5cm thick. This doesn’t make them durable. Probably makes them immortal! This thickness is part of the game, though for the three dimensional aspect of the game does have an impact on the gameplay.

The cards are lovely. Thick and laminated, they feature characters with vivid colours and descriptions that are to the point and, at the same time, very comprehensive. Very carefully worded rules that dissipate any confusion right away.

The wooden chits and stars are just the right size and it feels they chose them to go with the material on the tiles. So much so that then, literally, thrown on the tiles, they don’t slide away. Maybe it was my friend’s uncanny ability to throw wooden chits on a board!

So how does the game play?

Very well indeed!

The three turns are divided in various phases, all of them in the right places to make it easy to remember. You choose what character you wan to play in that round. The number at the top will determine who’s the first player to go. That player decides if the terrain tiles will be placed North, South, East or West of the Main Hall tile and then the rest of the players. The terrain tiles come in different colours for residential, commercial, industrial, parks and all-purpose land.

pic1085113_md[1]Then the back stabbing begins. And the fun too! You have to bid for the areas you want to control and build on. Of course you start to second-guess where the other players want to occupy and try to bid for it so they can’t build there, or, at least, make things more difficult for them. Trust me, this makes for a really fun part of the game.

The building tiles can have a single building or be divided into two, with different types of buildings. They have to match the terrain where they are placed. Either that or go onto all-purpose terrain, which means you get less points. Of course you can also place a building on another to create a tower, which leads to really fun boards that are never alike from game to game.

You score points by placing buildings and sometimes characters will also give you points when another player does something, like placing a building tile. There are other ways to score a few points, but it’s much more fun when you actually buy the game and find out for yourself (yes, that was a hint…).


I might have missed some details, but it really doesn’t matter. The game is fan-tas-tic.

With a quick learning curve, a very original theme, excellent artwork and components that will last longer than you, this game will be on your table often. It might lack the depth of Agricola, but, quite frankly, who cares?

This is a quick game about having fun while developing your city while messing everybody else’s plans. There will be very little cooperation in this game, and if anyone appears to offer help, you can believe there is an ulterior motive and that player will benefit from the help more than you!

Yes, this game deserved 5 stars. Having this game makes me want to invite my friends for dinner and convert them into the world of boardgames. It is THAT good!

For more information and more terrific games, visit Clever Mojo Games website.

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