Since discovering Carcassonne many years ago, I have kept my eye out for new tile-laying tabletop experiences to investigate. To go with that, I have long enjoyed the idea of city-building as a theme for gaming.
Now Bezier Games and designer Ted Alspach have provided me with a way to enjoy both things in a game that is simple to play and teach while being one of the more enjoyable games I've played this year.
The game is Suburbia.
In that game, 1 to 4 players are taking charge of creating suburbs for the same metropolitan city. The goal of the game is to balance buildings that will increase income with those that will attract people to that player's burb.
There are 100 tiles divided into groupings of residential, industrial, commercial and civic structures. Each will have benefits and some will have drawbacks. Some will give a one-shot increase to the player's population. Others will give a lasting change to the player's income and/or reputation, which will change that player's resource collection and population at the end of each turn.
Properties appear on a real estate market piece. The two pieces to be up on the board the longest are free for the purchasing and only cost whatever is noted on the building tile. The other five available properties have increases of +2 to +10 depending on how long those pieces have been up for grabs. Each turn a player selects a tile and that tile is replaced by all of the existing tiles sliding to the right to fill that gap. Then a new tile is taken off the stack and added to the end.
Each tile is marked as belonging to stacks A, B or C. A certain number of each are placed in each of those 3 piles depending on the number of players. A “1 more round” tile is placed in the final C stack and that is how players know the game is about to end.
Each tile also has a lake on the flip side of each building. That lake is a way to provide income to a suburb that is needing an influx of cash.
At the beginning of the game, each player receives 2 of 20 goal tiles that will reward points for achieving certain things at the end of the game. The player discards one and keeps one and keeps the tile face down so no other player knows the goal. Depending on the number of players, there will be 2-4 public goals that will also reward points at the end of the game.
There is a board that is used to score population, which is what determines the game's winner. As the population grows past certain numbers, the income and reputation will decrease as some residents react to the increasing size of the suburb.
Suburbia plays in 60 to 90 minutes depending on the newness of the players and the number participating. But the game flow is so smooth and intuitive, that it will like much less time than that has expired during the experience.
The game is perfect for gamers because of the replayability and the options presented on each turn, yet it will also please the more casual player because the game has simple rules and realistic theme. I recommend it for both groups.
The components are very strong and the incons on the game pieces are easy to distinguish and learn. The rulebook is only 4 pages and then there are 4 more pages giving a quick overview of what each tile does.
In a few months, the first expansion for this game, Suburbia Inc., will be released. This is what the publisher has to say about the first addition: “In Suburbia Inc, you get to develop your city in new directions: Define borders that are unique and provide you with all-new benefits; build more than a dozen new, powerful buildings to optimize your income and reputation; and take advantage of new Bonuses (to increase your income) and Challenges (to boost your reputation) by achieving mid-game goals.”
To learn more about the game visit: www.beziergames.com.