Akropolis Review

Have you always dreamed of being an Ancient Greek town planner? Well dream no more, now you can, in the most abstract of senses. An Akropolis is a city built on stone, and of stone – and you will strive to elevate your city to the most Polisy Akrop by combining plazas and districts into a winning design!

2 – 4 Players | 30 Minutes | Designed by Jules Messaud

Akropolis brings us the answer to the age old question, ‘What if Carcasonne was more like Upwords?’ I’ll be honest, I usually waffle on here a bit about the background of the game, but I’ve not got much to say about this one here. The only interesting tid-bit of background information I could find about Akropolis was that it was actually originally crowdfunded on the German site Spiele Offensive in April 2022, raising 7000 Euros, before being picked up and brought to retail by Gigamic.

Building my town with the market in the background

How does it work?

Akropolis is a tile laying game in which you are trying to maximise points from several criteria that are scored at the end of the game. After setup, players take turns drafting tiles from the display until all tiles are placed, and then tally the scores for their individual towns.

Akropolis‘ tiles consist of 3-hexagon pieces, which contain a variety of districts, plazas and quarries. There are 6 different colours/types of district/plaza, each of which has a different scoring condition.

On a player’s turn, they choose a tile from the display. The display is a line of tiles, with the first one being free, and then each subsequent tile costing one more stone (e.g. 1, 2, 3), which is essentially the currency of the game. Once the player has selected the tile they place it in their town. There are very few rules around tile placement, basically, it must touch with at least one side. It can be placed on top of other tiles, creating higher levels, and to do this, the tile must be fully supported underneath, no overhangs allowed.

During the game itself, the only thing that placing a tile can earn you is stone – if you cover a quarry by placing a tile on the level above, you will earn one stone. Apart from those mentioned above, there are no ‘illegal’ tile placements, you are allowed to invalidate scoring conditions if you wish, it only counts if they are valid or invalid at the very end of the game.

After players have finished placing their tiles, scoring occurs. Each district has a unique way of scoring, for example: Markets only score if they aren’t touching other markets, Barracks only score if they are on an open edge of your town, and Houses will only score if they are in the largest blob of houses. To score valid districts, you sum up the number of validly placed tiles based on their height (e.g. a market on layer 3 has a value of 3), and then multiply that sum by the number of matching district plazas (regardless of where they are, plazas do not need to follow placement rules). In this way, building higher, and building lots of plazas, will make your districts worth a lot.

Pick your next tile from the market. Pay stone if you don’t want the freebie!

What do I think?

I’ve played Akropolis now several times with 2-4 players. It’s a smooth and quick game. With games lasting around 20 minutes, I often found myself playing a couple of games in a row, which is quite rare among my groups.

The Good Stuff

  • Upon opening the box the first time I had a few different thoughts and feelings. The first was my approval of the box insert and organisation. It’s simple and functional. I then realised that the tiles come pre-punched, which is a mild disappointment for me…. I love punching out tiles. I suppose it saves on shipping weight.
  • It’s so quick to explain the game and start playing . Scoring is a little bit unintuitive.. I’ll discuss that below.
  • The fact that there are basically no placement rules can lead to some interesting decisions, trade-offs, and gambles that may or may not pay off. The game can become quite exciting and tense when you are hanging out for a tile that could double your score and then it doesn’t appear … or somebody else takes it from you!
  • Akropolis has a very interesting scoring system. I find the ‘multiplier’ aspect of the scoring system makes it very exciting. Big numbers are more fun and this game can have some pretty wild scoring situations.
  • After several plays there is no obvious dominant strategy or overpowered district type, I’ve seen people win in many different ways and I really like games that don’t have obvious OP strategies.

The Bad Stuff

  • Despite a simple rule set, I actually found the rulebook kind of vague in places. For example, due to the way the stone payment rule is explained, we made a big mistake on our first game thinking stone accumulated on un-bought tiles (it says pay 1 stone for each tile, I read this as one stone to each tile, – the picture backs this up). There are several other vague areas of the rules, including plaza placement, and it can be easy to miss the height factor in scoring.
  • I found it very difficult to explain clearly that Districts need to follow rules for placement during scoring but Plazas don’t. They are both coloured, it doesn’t really make sense why they should be distinguished. With a few concrete examples it can be made clear but for what is a simple game I often spend half or more of rules explanation on this.
  • The theme…. If you were expecting a great Greek game with lots of flavour, prepare to be disappointed. Of course, this is typical of light abstract games of this nature.
A look inside the box with everything packed away.

I enjoy playing Akropolis, and I think it’s a perfect game to play when you’ve only got half an hour or you’re waiting for someone to turn up to games night. As I mention regularly I much prefer to play significantly heavier games than this one, but I think it’s a great family or filler game. There is low luck, every turn you are making a strategic decision, and this distinguishes it from other comparable weight games. I am especially happy to recommend this one due to its extremely accessible price – it can be found for $40AUD/$25USD, which is amazing for a tile laying game.

The copy of Akropolis used for this review was provided to The Boardgame Detective by VR Distribution

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