The game: Copenhagen by Asger Harding Granerud and Daniel Skjold Pedersen, published by Queen Games in 2019.
I loaned a review copy from Lautapelit.fi, the publisher of the Scandinavian edition of the game.
Elevator pitch: Tetris-like tile laying powered with rummy-style card play and clever use of special powers.
What’s in the box? A big box has lots of cardboard polyomino tiles, player boards and cards. Everything looks quite pretty; the colors are a bit pale, but the artwork still looks nice and friendly. All the components are functional and do their job well. Bonus points for scoring meeples shaped like the Little Mermaid statue.
What do you do in the game? The goal of the game is to either reach 12 points for instant win or to have the most points when the card triggering the end of the game emerges from the deck. You score points by completing rows and columns on your player board by placing polyomino tiles.
On your turn, you either draw two cards from the table or play cards from your hand to place a polyomino tile. The colour and the number of the cards you play determine which tile you can place: play three blue cards, and you can place a three-square blue polyomino.
The tiles are placed in your building facade from the bottom up. Each new tile must be on the bottom of the facade or on top of another tile. When you complete a row, you score one point and a complete column is two points, and if the row or column has only window squares, that’s double points.
There are also coat of arms symbols in the grid and next to certain rows and columns. If you cover a symbol or fill a row or column next to the symbol, you get a bonus action. For a bonus action, you either take a new bonus power tile or place a one-square window tile to your grid – that’s the only way to get one-square tiles.
Bonus actions let you break the rules: draw more cards, draw and place on a same turn, or to place tiles cheaper. The powers are one use only, but as a bonus action, you can flip all your power tiles face up so you can reuse them. Efficient use of these power tiles is key to success in this game, which reminds me of Oregon.
Lucky or skillful? Luck is involved, as is usual when cards are involved in the game, but thanks to the power tiles and other skill elements involved, the more skilled player will win more often.
Abstract or thematic? There’s nothing in the game that really ties it to this specific theme; the game play is very abstract, and the theme is just decoration. It would be really easy to switch the theme to something else or to remove it completely, and the game would still make sense and be easy to play. On the other hand, I could see this sold in tourist shops in Copenhagen.
Solitaire or interactive? There’s little direct interaction. The worst things your opponent can do is to take the cards you would’ve wanted to take and to win the game before you have a chance. Even when you lose, you can get a sense of accomplishment for building a nice facade, so all in all, Copenhagen is a peaceful game.
Players: 2–4. All player counts are good.
Who can play? The publisher age recommendation is 8+. I think this is a good, fairly short family game, well suitable for families.
What’s to like: The game looks calm and peaceful, and plays well: the game play is easy, fluid and offers enough chances to be clever, thanks to the power tiles. Choosing which ones to take and how to best use them is an interesting challenge.
What’s not to like: The game’s a bit bland and abstract, and if you like interaction, you won’t find it here. The box is a bit big and the setup takes a while especially with two players, considering the length of the actual game. A filler in a big box, essentially.
My verdict: I was happy to loan the game from Lautapelit.fi, but I don’t mind having to return it. I think it is a solid game, but on the other hand it does not excite me in a way I expect from games in my own collection. I’m happy to play it if someone else wants to, but unlikely to suggest it myself. That’s the definition of “Indifferent” verdict for me.
However, I would recommend this game to anyone looking for friendly, easy-going family game that plays in under an hour. If you don’t require a strong theme, want something that’s kind of clever but not very taxing and that’s easy to teach to someone who’s not heavily into games, Copenhagen is well worth a look.
On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, Copenhagen gets Indifferent from me.