Monday, February 10, 2014
Utopia is a brainteaser puzzle from Popular Playthings. The instructions describe Utopia as "the city of the future and the ultimate way to test your city planning skills."
Utopia comes with 16 skyscrapers, 1 game board, 50 challenge cards, and instructions. There are 4 skyscrapers in 4 colors, each color with a different height. The skyscrapers are sturdy and fun to play with!
The object of the game is to place all 16 buildings on the game board using the clues presented on each challenge card. The answers are on the backs of the cards.
There are two phases of play. Cards 1-25 cover phase one. This challenge phase adheres to the rules of Sudoku, so that each row and each column of the game board must contain 4 different height buildings.
Utopia works the same way most puzzle games do...pick a challenge card, set up the board, and study the clues until you figure out an answer. The first several cards of the phase one challenges can be solved using only the rules of Sudoku. But then it starts getting tricky! The clues provided on the challenge cards hinge on the idea of viewpoint. So how many buildings can you see when you look down a row or a column. Look at the above photo...see the big green skyscraper in the bottom right? If you looked up that column from below, you would only be able to see that one skyscraper. All the scrapers behind it get hidden from view. So you will see a small white arrow on the game card with a number one in it pointing up that column. Get it?
Here's a completed phase one challenge. As you move along in phase one, less clues are presented. Many later challenges don't even have any starting buildings for you to place! But the Sudoku rules make phase one SO much easier than phase two. My 10 year old could solve many of the phase one challenges, but found phase two rather confusing.
On to phase two. You can see the white arrows have now been replaced with red arrows and we have left the Sudoku rules behind. Phase two allows buildings of the same height to be in the same rows or columns. So the red arrows tell you how many buildings you can see with the same height! So a red arrow with a 4 in it means all the buildings in that row are exactly the same!
The first couple challenges in phase two aren't too bad, but then they throw in a mix of white and red arrows and I think my mind just might explode! Phase two is definitely for more advanced puzzle solvers. I managed to get through about half of phase two before I needed a serious break!
Which included peanut M&M's as replacement buildings!
Here's a completed phase two challenge. You can see how buildings of the same height are allowed together here.
So if I have confused you trying to describe the game play, don't worry. The instruction booklet for Utopia is quite clear with very nice diagrams to help you along!
While I was playing, I kept track of some tips and solving strategies that I thought I'd share with you too.
Phase One Tips and Strategies:
* use the rules of Sudoku to place the buildings first...you'll fill most of the board quite easily this way
* a white arrow with a 1 in it means you should place a green building at the start of the row or column
* a white arrow with a 4 in it means you should place the buildings in this order; blue, orange, yellow, green (or smallest to largest)
* a 1 and a 2 at opposite end of a row or column means there is a green skyscraper next to the 1 (on the one end) and a yellow skyscraper next to the 2 (on the other end)
* a 2 and 3 at opposite ends of a row or column means that the green skyscraper will be 2 places away from the 2 end (or 3 places away from the 3 end)
* (are you completely confused now? I think pictures would probably have been better...I'll have to do that later.)
Phase Two Tips and Strategies:
* don't get tripped up thinking that a red arrow with a 3 in it means that those 3 same buildings must be adjacent to each other...there might be a shorter one hiding in the middle!
* a white arrow with a 4 in it still means the same thing as in phase one
* a white arrow with a 1 in it does NOT necessarily mean that a green tower should come first!!!
Do you have any tips or tricks for Utopia? I'd really like to hear some for phase two!
You can buy Utopia at Amazon or at Popular Playthings (or you favorite game shop!)
And if you like this city style game, check out my post about City Square Off. It's a 2 player puzzle game with city building!