On my “Want to Purchase” list of GenCon 2010 releases, Constantinopolis was at the very bottom, teetering on the edge of “falling off”completely. In fact, as I perused the FFG Booth on Thursday afternoon while waiting patiently in line to pick up my copies of DungeonQuest and Dust Tactics, I noticed on several occasions that its huge stack of boxes was barely touched by the hungry mob of gamers whom had descended upon the booth only hours earlier. Here was a FFG game that was on sale for the first time ever, and barely a soul was interested in it at all.
There were people with Space Hulk: Death Angel, City of Thieves, Arkhum Horror and every other conceivable FFG game both new and old in hand ready to make their purchase, but nary a soul had even picked up Constantinopolis to look over what it had to offer.
As the 2:00 PM DungeonQuest release approached, my FFG inner impulse meter inside of me went off as it always does, so I asked my wife to politely walk back a few paces and grab us a copy. So it was then set in stone, one way or another I was going to have to at least give this game a try.
When we got back home late that night on Thursday, I began to rip open shrink-wrap like a kid on Christmas morning…….Ascension, Dust Tactics Deluxe Edition, Invasion from Outer Space, City of Thieves, Heroes of Graxia….and one by one I made my way through a mountain of games. By morning, I had spent hours organizing, sleeving, and pimping each game for play on Friday night at the Skyline…..every game except for Constantinopolis of course.
And there the game sat, at home, on a table, in its shrinkwrap for all of GenCon 2010.
Was it the box art? Or the lack of cool components that made one raise their eyebrows? Why did this game seem so incredibly invisible all weekend to everyone?
I couldn’t wrap my head around what was missing from this game to make it so….let’s say unapproachable to gamers. So my inner curiosity kept walking by the FFG booth throughout the weekend…and by Sunday, that 6′ stack of games was still at least waist high, and the demo booth was all but empty. What in the world was going on?
By Sunday evening when the final lights inside the exhibit hall faded, my initial observations came to fruition….no one cared about Constantinopolis, and what a shame that really was to all; for after having played it numerous times now, it’s a heck of a lot better than the sum of all it’s given parts.
Constantinopolis is a game of simple economics and steadily increasing gains from one turn to the next, culminating in a final struggle to be the most famous person in the entire city. The game never hides itself behind a veil of obscure rules and higher math, which is one of its more appealing lures for me. It’s extremely simple to learn, and even easier to play and teach to all manner of gamers, new and experienced.
The game is structured around three basic concepts.
1. Buying buildings that produce goods that could compliment your overall starting strategy.
2. Balancing your personal economy by buying/selling or using your goods at the right time.
3. Optimizing your odds of successful shipping by securing enough Contracts each turn.
Almost everything in Constantinopolis can be done simultaneously by every player, meaning that a 9 round game (with 8 turns per round) can go by more swiftly than most any other economic style game I have played prior. This eliminates a lot of the AP issues that usually occur in games of this style. There is no combat involved in Constantinopolis, and very little blocking or “skrewage” that can be used, which allows for a more congenial game to take place.
There is just enough planning involved in the game to make one feel in charge of their own economy from turn to turn, but it also has a dash of luck mixed in as well with the Contract Cards (which fortunately CAN be manipulated in several ways to optimize your chances of success).
I encourage those that are even remotely interested in this game to watch my video overview seen here:
The video shows the components and details a lot more of the mechanics than I have gone into detail with in this review. I think both posts I have now made available will really allow gamers a chance to finally experience what I believe to be a severely under-hyped and under appreciated game.