Friday , September 18 2020
Players build their cities while vying for resources.

Board Game Review: ‘City’ from Castle Games Inc.

city gameCITY by designer Ryan Smith from Castle Games Inc. takes some of the best principles of resource management games and assembles them into a quick-paced game that will entice hardcore gamers and casual family-fun seekers alike. The feel of this land-developing game reawakens memories of the classic 1990s video game SimCity, but this CITY is no sandbox: Someone is going to come out on top.

The box for CITY is delightfully weighty, filled with high-quality printed tiles and wooden blocks that make for an enduring game. Rather than being a singular board, the play-area for CITY is made up of modular grids of rugged mountains, forests, plains, and badlands that players will develop into a shining metropolis. Not only are these shuffled at the start, they are also rotated, making no game of CITY exactly like another.

On each turn, players may draw residential, industrial, and commercial tiles. As the map develops, players work toward populating the city with their own prosperous, hardworking citizens, connecting industrial tiles with residential ones, all arcing out from their home starting tokens. Physical connecting lines are drawn through “road” pieces, which make up the game’s groundwork strategy.

Each road goes along the edge of a tile, meaning that there is only so much room for players to use in drawing their maps. Players might be tempted to start in their own corners to maximize space between them, but as resources become available, they will naturally work to overlap, making for a potentially tangled mess. Optional “lake” tiles make for an even more convoluted game as players will have to dodge around them to get to burgeoning resources.

With the board constantly shifting, players will need to reevaluate their strategies for each change. Turns begin with collecting resources, drawing tiles, and developing, then repositioning citizens from residential zones for the next turn, which determines how many resources may be collected. Each resource is then useful for a different purpose, with Wheat allowing for more citizens, Wood enabling apartment towers for even more citizens, Ore to build office towers for bonus money-making in commercial zones, and Oil as a money-making powerhouse key for building more roads. Rather than winding down, CITY constantly accelerates as players get more and more resources to act with.

CITY game layoutYet resources are finite, and the game ends as they run out. At the end of a game of CITY, players look over their cityscape to determine victory points to name the winner. Victory points come from the number of citizens employed, towers built, and cash in hand, so players will have to have maximize all three to come out ahead.

CITY is a strategy board game for two to five players aged 12 and up. Games can last an hour or more, which is very speedy for typical resource-management games. Younger players might have problems keeping up with the strategizing, but they will certainly enjoy the fun of seeing the board develop and building skyscrapers as in a sandbox-style game. Older players, too, will enjoy seeing their handiwork as the city comes to life.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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