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3D Game Review: Gridopolis

Gridopolis takes space-age play to the table. It’s a 3D game that feels like something people should have been playing for centuries.

Three-dimensional board games have appeared before, although many have run into problems. German experiments with stacking chessboards in the 19th and early 20th centuries created a game so complex few could wrap their brains around potential moves. Star Trek has its own famous chess in three dimensions, although its flamboyant layout works better for the television screen than actual play.

Gridopolis resolves those problems in a modular 3D game that can be understood in seconds and studied for a lifetime.

The core rules of Gridopolis are timeless, based on the classic mechanic of “jumping” an opponent’s piece that has been enticing board-gamers for centuries. What sets Gridopolis above the rest is its use of linked pieces that can be set up in a myriad of playing fields. This gives players flexibility to create their own favorite boards, even with a few tweaks for specialized gaming.

The basic pieces are the pads where players’ markers rest, much like squares on a checkerboard, and the links and posts that connect them. Assembly of the standard three-tier board is quick, and the modular nature of the pads allows players to build out docks or additional towers as they like. Like sandbox games such as Minecraft, Gridopolis is as much about building and rearranging the environment as about the actual play of moving the pieces.

Gridopolis begins with players lining up their home-row of markers, just as in chess or checkers. Markers are set in the “pawn” position, meaning that they may move only one space in any direction away from the home-row. This may be sideways, diagonally, or vertically, but the restriction of being away from home keeps it from becoming confusing. If a marker lands on an opponent’s home-row, it is kinged, allowing it to move two spaces now in any direction.

The goal of Gridopolis is to capture opponents’ markers by jumping and eliminating them and winning the game. Players may jump with kings or pawns, but they must be careful to jump only in a straight line and not end up off the board. The problem-solving nature of the jumps is an excellent way to break down the large and ever-changing problem of how to capture an opponent’s pieces into individual tactics within an overall strategy.

In addition to the regular moving action, players may also add pieces onto the board, changing the field of play and thus interrupting or promoting strategies. Specialty pieces include blockers, which prevent markers from landing there, and hyper-pads, which allow for teleporting for yet another dimension of play. Further custom rules of play are encouraged, such as sacrificing a marker to make a jump off the board, or even moving sections of the board with pieces in tow. The only limits are the bounds of creativity.

Gridopolis is a strategy game for two to four players aged eight and up. Like other piece-movement strategy games, rounds can last a few minutes with one player dominating, or as much as an hour with well-balanced strategists. Optional rules install a time limit, which adds a whole new ticking-clock feel to gameplay.

With its modular components creating nearly infinite ways to play while maintaining a strong rules base, Gridopolis is an excellent addition to anyone’s gaming table. With its straightforward strategy it’s perfect as a family game, and its brain-stretching possibilities make it an excellent addition to the STEM classroom.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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