On Wednesday evening Mike, Andy S and I played Suburbia a recent Essen release from Ted Alspach, a designer perhaps best known for designing and publishing a vast multitude of Age of Steam expansions.
Like Age of Steam, Suburbia involves cardboard hexagons, a track for income, wooden pieces and is a game that is good.
Anyway…. In Suburbia everyone is in control of a borough of one City, and the aim of the game is to make your borough the bestest (sic) in the City, with bestest defined as being the most populous. To make your borough the most populous you need to place building tiles which improve the reputation of your borough, so people will flock to it. However in order to afford tiles which will improve your reputation, you’ll need some industry or commercial tiles which will generate income but sometimes come at the expense of reputation e.g. no one wants a landfill site next door.
The gameplay itself is relatively simple, take a tile, and place it adjacent to your existing tiles. This may generate a one-off windfall in income or population, and may then affect your income or reputation. What’s quite nice about the game is that the tiles you place can not only affect the tiles you have in your borough but may affect everyone else’s borough. For example If I build a Freeway next to a residential tile, and next to a Commercial tile, it will damage my reputation for being next to houses, but increase my income for being next to Commercial buildings. And if I build a farm, every time someone (including me) builds a restaurant – my income rises. Or if I build a Hotel, every time someone except me builds a residential area it improves my income.
So improving your income generates cash, which you can then spend on tiles which will add population either through one-offs or by improving your reputation. Layed on top of this are goals. If you achieve a goal, and no-one else does you’ll gain a population bonus. Each person has a secret goal, plus there is one known goal per player in the game. In our game, I went for the win by building an affluent city with a high reputation – plenty of Commercial buildings, nice place to live and an International Airport – basically Solihull if you want a West Midlands analogy. My population by the end was soaring each turn. Andy S built Bilston, some cheap housing and lots of heavy industry, some growth and income but ultimately let down by poor town planning. I’m not sure what Mike built. A hodgepodge of lakes, and civic buildings with negative reputation throughout much of the game. Unfortunately for me, Mikesville generated a lot of cash, and was also consistent with most of the goals, earning him a massive boost in points by the end of the game for the win.
I really didn’t help myself with by accidently building a residential area, gifting a 20pt goal to Mike (which was coincidentally the winning margin), but hey ho, live and learn.