Neotopia review

Neotopia Review

The future is coming, in the form of really nice acrylic discs. Neotopia is a pattern building game from Arcane Wonders. Set in 2055, players are drafting and working to complete project cards for points. Does this colorful futuristic game have what it takes to stay in our collection? Let’s find out!

Building Blocks of the Future

The central board for Neotopia is divided into 3 regions. Plastic discs sit between the regions and in the center of the board. The 4 discs in the center are used to refill one of the sections when all the resources are used. On your turn you’ll take a total of 3 actions. You can either draft a card from the display or place a disc in an adjacent region.

Neotopia - central board

Discs represent sustainable food (green), energy (red), community (blue) and technology (purple). Using your three actions, you’ll create patterns of discs that are shown on the cards in your hand. When you meet the pattern on a project card you have, you get to score the points shown at the bottom of the card.

Since there are 3 regions on the board, you’ll score your points on the score track for that specific region. Ignoring one of the regions is a terrible idea because of the way end game scoring takes place. Your lowest scoring track is tripled during final scoring. You want to maximize your points by building projects in all 3 regions.

Neotopia - score track

Project Diversity

When finishing a project card in your hand, you’ll pull discs from the right and left sides of the region to create patterns. Each project card awards points based on the difficulty of the pattern. There’s enough diversity in these cards that you should never get stuck.

Neotopia has a rule that can complicate project completion. Players cannot complete a project in a region that shares the same illustration as the last completed project. This is a little rule that forces players to diversify the projects they focus on.

Neotopia - project display

Players have to keep there options open because the board is constantly shifting. Especially in a 4-player game, your plans can easily be dashed as another player uses the tiles you needed for a project in hand. Being able to pivot is a big part of Neotopia.

At the end of the game, players will score additional points in each region based on the largest grouping of their player color. For instance, the green player will gain an additional 5 points in a region for having 5 connected green resource discs.

Futuristic Struggles

I really love the complexity of Neotopia. This game takes players by surprise after the first couple rounds. The game takes less than 5 minutes to teach, but the decisions become more complex as each region fills up.

Neotopia - tokens

As the game progresses, there’s a tension as you try and complete projects, without leaving your opponents with a setup to complete one of their projects. This is also the biggest pain point in Neotopia. Something that I’ve noticed around the table is that players are struggling with “analysis paralysis” (AP). At first, I thought this was just an issue with the person I was playing with.

I’ve played Neotopia with almost a dozen people and players have suffered with AP in every single game we’ve played. Players are glancing between 3 regions, looking at open spaces, considering which projects score the most points. There are lots of options and decision making can really chug late in the game. Players who struggle with spatial reasoning will find this especially difficult.

I want to be clear. Neotopia is NOT a complex game. The quick and snappy turns from the beginning of the game quickly fade as players work to maximize their points.

Neotopia - projects

Final Thoughts

I have been pleasantly surprised by Neotopia. I love how tactile the resource discs feel as they hit the board. The illustrations throughout the game are fitting for the projects you’re working on. Bonus tokens that are earned during the game can extend a players turn just enough to finish multiple projects in a turn. And, if you choose not to spend these, they are worth end game victory points.

Neotopia - bonus tokens

Neotopia is a game that I often think about within minutes of putting it back in the box. This game is super accessible to newer and seasoned gamers alike. Knowing that the gameplay can give players AP late in the game may help you decide who you want to play Neotopia with.

This is a great “gateway” game that would be a great fit for fans of Azul. If you can get past the possible AP that comes with the late game decisions, Neotopia is a real gem of a game. The constantly shifting puzzle in the 3 regions of the board are challenging in the best ways possible. Neotopia is an abstract game that will stay in our collection for a long time to come.

Neotopia is available at your local game store, on the Arcane Wonders web store or online through Amazon.

This game was provided to us by the publisher for review. Read more about our review policies at One Board Family.

Highs

  • Excellent quality components
  • Finishing projects are a puzzley challenge
  • Plays very different at 2, 3 and 4 players

Lows

  • Decisions later in the game commonly cause AP

Complexity

1.5 out of 5

Time Commitment

2.5 out of 5

Replayability

3 out of 5

Ryan Gutowski

I'm a huge fan of strategy games and pretty much anything that involves "city building". My love of board games goes back to my childhood and passion for building relationships with others.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Ghosts Love Candy Too Review

TRAILS Review

The Kringle Caper Review

Five Games You Should Be Playing on Yucata