There’s just something about a city building game that makes them go over really well here at Gameosity HQ. So much the better if that game has nice art, accessible rules, and manages to pack a lot of gameplay into a relatively small box. Well, Architectura from designer Pavel Atamanchuk manages to hit on all those criteria, packing some really solid gameplay into its modestly-sized box!
Gameosity received a review copy of Architectura
The truth is that the great artwork of Architectura barely hides a fairly abstract game. While the box and art promise some vaguely fantasy-ish competitive architectural competition, your goal is to manipulate the tableau such that your cards are worth as much as possible, while devaluing the cards of your opponents as effectively as you can…like some sort of fantasy real estate competition. And in that way, Architectura can be a kinda cutthroat experience, as players shank each other’s real estate investments, hacking away at the value of the cards you’ve so strategically positioned. But on the other hand, smart card placement can vastly increase the value of your own cards, so it’s all all about clever placement and timing.
Each turn, you will play one card from your hand into the city grid. There are as many rows (streets) as players, and up to 8 columns (blocks) per row. Cards are placed from left to right, but can be added to any available rows. Every card in Architectura has a starting value which might be a static number or it might be variable, such as being equal to the number column it’s in or being relative to a nearby card. Upon being played, the new card’s starting value is compared to its neighbor on the left (if any). Depending on the difference, a few things might happenr:
- If the new card is twice the value of its neighbor, its neighbor is destroyed (flipped face-down, worth no points, can be built over)
- If the new card is higher value (but not double), the neighbor’s value is lowered (rotate the card 90 degrees to its next lowest value, if possible)
- If equal, neither card is affected
- If the new card is of lower value, it’s value increases (rotate 90 degrees higher)
However, once values are compared and possibly adjusted, any special effect text on the new card takes place. These effects vary pretty widely, from letting you rotate other cards to destroying cards outright to letting you make additional plays. These special effects can powerfully manipulate the tableau in really unexpected ways, adding a layer of strategy to Architectura beyond ‘play low cards next to high cards and high cards next to low cards’.
Adding some longevity to Architectura are the advanced cards, which pepper each player’s starting deck with a smattering of unique cards. To play with the advanced rules, players agree on how many advanced buildings to add, and then swap out some of the base cards with their unique counterparts. This makes every color play differently and causes some divergence in strategy, something that the game greatly benefits from.
Overall, we were really impressed with Architectura. While things do get a bit chaotic at 4, it’s complexity and play time make it a fantastic 2 player ‘lunchtime’ game, and the only thing that stops us from considering it a fantastically portable title is the physical space the cards take up. But anywhere you’ve got the table real estate, you won’t regret spending it on Architectura!