20 May 2021
The big city is full of corruption, and sometimes, it’s the only way to get ahead. That, or just skip over everyone in front of you. High Rise is a city building game that has a certain Monopoly feel about it, without all the negative randomness. Players move their mogul around a board, performing the action on the location they land on. They have to gather materials, either by picking or choosing from a bag of resources. These resources are then used to build skyscrapers by matching the required elements with those on the blueprints for the decade you’re in. You can then place your new skyscraper on the board in the area you’re taking the build action from, or anywhere else, by taking corruption. Once you own a slot on the board, others can land there, and you’ll get to take the action of the slot again as the landlord.
To build the biggest skyscrapers, players need to gain bonuses through extra cards, or matching ultraplastics (a wildcard material) on the blueprint. Every floor counts when building up your high rise city – as there’s bonuses for having the biggest tower in each neighbourhood, as well as naturally scoring more points through these.
The worker placement element is most interesting. Borrowing a mechanic from Knizia classic Tutankhamen, players can move as far around the board as they like on their turn, and the player at the back of the pack gets to go next. This means nearly everything is opened up to players immediately, and planning becomes tricky. You might think you can hop along to the next ‘free build’ site, but you can guarantee that it’ll be vacant on your go – instead you’ll settle for taking some corruption. Also, because you’re always going first form the back, there’s no opportunity to ‘wait out’ other players – you’ve just got to make the next best choice. You’re often skipping opportunities that seem so tantalising to get to the action you simply need.
High Rise is simply beautiful. With art by Kwanchai Moriya and graphic design by Heiko Güther the board comes together and simply sings of a real metropolis that creates beauty despite it being driven by greed. The components in the game are lush productions, and even the spaces to place your buildings in their standees is slightly indented, reducing a certain amount of accidental godzilla-elbow around the table.
High Rise is a marvel of interesting choices and indirect but very effective player interaction. Taking the slots on the board others were hoping to is satisfying, and there are few negative actions to take – only sub-optimal. It’s also, despite its long set up time, a pretty quick game to teach. A great deal of this is down to the very amusing and tongue in cheek approach that the rulebook brings to proceedings. If you’re ready to be a property mogul, and you don’t mind who you lead over to get there, High Rise is the building game for you.
Christopher John Eggett
PLAY IT? YES
High Rise is the ‘gamers Monopoly’ you’ve been looking for. With an elegant blend of worker placement and satisfyingly large buildings, it’s got everything you wanted from Monopoly, without going to jail. Well, not until the end of the game anyway…
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED Quadropolis…
If you’re looking for a step up from the frustratingly fun city-scuffles of Quadropolis, then High Rise is a good centrepiece for your next mogul meet-up.
Designer: Gil Hova
Publisher: Formal Ferret Games
Time: 90-180 minutes
This article originally appeared in issue 47 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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