Review: Construction Zone – building in cards

Construction Zone - packaging

On site is a madhouse. And you are part of it. Everywhere prowl workers are rattling with excavators and a crane arm sweeps over your head from time to time. Yet all this has clearly defined rules and looking from a distance, these all people and machines working also looks a bit like a symphony..

A properly tune with your feelings is also intention of card game, which is one of four news coming from publishin. The company comes from Latvia, as we mentioned last time, when article dealing with the card game Food Chain (review) came out. It pleasantly surprised us (except its rules) and the more we were curious about the next game.

Even this one was published in and is based on the idea coming from head of . Illustrations were committed again by Gints Rudzitis, who prepared the pictures of animals in the Food Chain. Graphic design was finished by Aldis Rocens to have the list of names complete.

Construction Zone - game is ready

Construction Zone has more in common with its animal brother. Mainly it is a box of rigid cardboard, which, however, has a dimension of conventional card games. So exactly big to parallelly stack two decks of cards in. And they are there, hidden under one thin sheet with the rules. Does it mean, that the game will have a simple rules? And will it not be at the expense of their explanation as last time?

Inside is 105 cards and you are able to divide them into two groups. Twenty-one of them are wearing a drawing of buildings, you are trying to finish during a game. And then there’s the rest – 87 cards of resources, that will help you with construction.

But you did not know by then, that this great deck can be divided according to icons in the corners to two smaller packages. One represents basic building resources and contains only one symbol. All other with multiple images belong to the advanced category. Exceptions to this rule are crane cards and workers. They are wearing only one image and belong still to a group alongside with advanced cards. And that means, that they will not begin play in your hand.

Construction Zone - game is ready

At the beginning of the game, you have these cards split down into three packages. Due to the fact, that during the match all resource cards get grouped, it is upleasant necessity to shuffle them really thoroughly at start of each game. But do not let that discourage your, as we go into the next part of our training.

Buildings are mixed all together and create three decks, each containing seven cards. This guarantees variability throughout each match due to its random sequence for each batch. Along with the buildings, also cards of advanced resources belong to table. Not just crane, but also cards with more icons in their corners. Each gets its own deck on the table, where you can buy it.

All other basic material cards are shuffled into one package. As we already said, shuffling plays a very important role, so pay close attention to it, as it will influence your experience. Each player is dealt four cards from the resulting deck. Another four are then visibly layed open beside the pile as an offer from where they can be picked up by players during their turn.

Construction Zone - game in progress

Now we can start playing. Players take turns. Each begins with selecting two cards of four available, and you can add them to your existing cards in hand. Remaining two events are no longer mandatory, but players can take them, when they see fit.

First step to a successful construction is better and more powerful machines. Therefore, you can at any time exchange two cards from your hand for any advanced resource availalbe on the table. Paid pair is thrown away on the discard pile, which over time creates a new drawing deck, when the card runs out. And yes, the shuffling is once again exhausting and long to split similar cards from each other. Advanced cards can be picked up in your hand and could be immediately used for building.

This is followed by third and final phase of player’s turn, which allows them to build more than one building. Offer is always clearly established with trio of visible construction cards on those three thin decks you prepared at the beginning.

Construction Zone - cards

Each building has clearly defined price, you have to pay for it with resources. This is done simply by throwing away number of cards (= raw materials) and take erected building for yourself (= place on the table). Although some are tougher or easier to construct, ultimately there is no difference among them, mainly in final scoring, where only their number is decisive. Therefore is worth of your time to build especially simpler ones and leave those more difficult for your opponents. But sometimes, you have no choice.

An interesting twist is, that even if you discard advanced resource card, it travels to the same discard deck. This means, that once you shuffle it, it contains more valuable cards among the classic offer. However, you’ll be able to take them simply for free, no exchange necessary this time. This makes the game faster in the second half of gametime, but it also causes more focus on luck.

Clash in construction ends, when one player reaches a predetermined number of buildings. This constructor is immediately winner of the game. No counting points or any other twists could alter the situation.

Construction Zone - game in progress

Construction Zone is quite a disappointment for us. Compared with Food Chain, it has more simple and comprehensible rules. But this is the only battle, it can win. In all other respects its by one magnitude worse, although it is a card game again.

There is simply no elegance in its gameplay and a sense of something to be done. It’s all about just about collecting cards, that you actually ultimately again replace with another card. And you could not strategize or do anything more to influence it all.

Players can steal each others cards from construction deck, but there is not joy of it. Even when there is advanced card in the menu. Everyone knows, that it’s just a coincidence and luck. And that does not have much to do with entertainment. At least in Construction Zone presentation. And the same suits also for building cards, which have no value and their different difficulty is just annoying.

Construction Zone - cards

Luck is everywhere. Mixed deck offers you materials, you do not need. And time is precious in this game, as each match is really swift. You have resources in your hand, which you cannot utilize. And then in the middle suddenly advanced cards start to appear in the menu. And if you’re unlucky, you will lose them all to your rivals. And this all is not saved even by austere graphics.

The only saviour is great idea of mixing advanced cards into discard of those basic ones. This makes second part of game really different. But also more luck dependent, than the first half. So where is the joy of planning? You need more luck, than in Ludo over here.

We did want to like the game. We really did. But there is no way of doing that. Construction Zone is a game, that will have difficulties to find an audience. It is completely random and one interesting idea is to draw advanced resources with basic ones. Otherwise, it is tedious experience, which you should probably prefer to avoid.

DesignerOliver Sihiveer
ArtistGints Rudzītis
PublisherBrain Games
Year Published2012
# of Players2 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4 players
Recommended with 3 players
(2 voters)
Playing Time20
Mfg Suggested Ages8 and up
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(2 voters)
CategoryCard Game, City Building, Industry / Manufacturing
MechanicHand Management, Set Collection
Primary NameConstruction Zone

Infos courtesy of More Infos.

Review: Construction Zone – building in cards
Final word
Construction Zone is based on principle, which is only one of basic stepping stones in other games. We are talking about collecting cards from common offer and paying with them for raised buildings. Or you can trade them in for more advanced building tools, which can help you to better and seemingly more valuable buildings. But they are all worth the same in the end, although they were more difficult to build than others. Winner is determined by number of completed structures and its simply work of luck. Game cannot be saved even with good idea of shuffling advanced cards back into drawing deck, so you do not have to pay for them anymore in the future. Construction Zone lacks the most important thing – amotphere and charge, which forces you to play it. Exchanging cards is simply not enough..
Reader Rating0 Votes
small box
clear rules
interesting way of mixing advanced cards into basic deck
game has no atmosphere
simple exchange of cards is no fun
minimal ways to influence game
and luck once again (there is nothing else to it)
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