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Neotopia presents as a kind of civ or city building game. It's set in the year 2055 and the theme is of the players as entrepreneurs building a self-sustaining city where all the parts synergise. That's the theory at least. Don't expect to get wrapped up in it because in practice Neotopia is an abstract pattern building game where the 2-4 players are placing out tiles to score from patterns they make that match those on their cards.

Neotopia is designed by Orlando Sá and André Santos, with art by Tiago Lobo Pimentel. It's played on a board divided into three regions, with the four different colours of tile produced by the 'factories' that separate the three regions. Game play is super easy: on your turn you get to take three actions. In fact there are only two different actions, so you'll do one of them at least twice: you can pick up a 'project card', either from the face-up display or face-down draw pile, and you can place a tile from a factory to either of the regions to which it is adjacent. When you place a tile it has to be adjacent to a tile already in place in that region. When your tile placement results in a pattern that corresponds to what's shown on one of your project cards, you score for that card.

Aside from bonus tiles to be harvested, that's pretty much the entire game. Players are each associated with one of the four colours and there's an end-game scoring bonus for the largest contiguous group of tiles in your colour. You score in all three regions but the kicker is that you score triple points for your lowest scoring region. They weren't kidding when the scene-setting referred to the city's synergies: you're hugely incentivised to closely balance your scores in all three regions; a player that neglects one region is unlikely to win.

Neotopia plays quickly. The majority of our plays at Board's Eye View have run to no more than 30-40 minutes. We found it worked especially well as a two or three-player game. The speed and ease of play makes it a great choice as a 'gateway' game to introduce to those new to modern board games. And, in that, it helps too that MEBO Games and Arcane Wonders have done such a great job with the game's production, with Neotopia's attractive plastic tiles. And the publishers have been inclusive too: tho' colours are important in the game, the tiles also sport distinguishing patterns for the benefit of colour-blind players.

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