Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Suburbia [Board Game Review]

Remember the computer game SimCity? Remember trying to build up your city and become a megalopolis? Or, if you're like me, remember building up your city only to unleash disaster after disaster on it? What if there were a board game that captured the city-building of SimCity? What if you could build a city and interact with the cities of other players? Good news, board game geeks, there is a game like that, and it is called Suburbia - a wonderful game released in 2012 by Ted Alspach and Bezier Games.

Suburbia is a game for 1-4 players (with 2 solo variants available) and should take roughly 90 minutes to play. In terms of complexity, this is definitely a step above games like Acquire and Ticket to Ride. I would not recommend starting an inexperienced strategy gamer with Suburbia. It is a game that you need to build up to before giving it a go.

At its core, Suburbia is a tile placement game, with each tile being a hexagon representing a building or landmark for your city/suburb. On the right, you see your starting suburb, and you purchase additional tiles to add to the suburb. The catch? All tiles interact with each other in different ways. At the top of the purple board are numbers representing reputation (i.e. do people want to move to your suburb?) and income. Different tiles will increase or decrease reputation and income, and the interaction of the tiles in your suburb (and in some cases, your opponents' suburbs) can affect your reputation and income even more. For instance, for obvious reasons, building a landfill next to houses decreases your reputation; or building a farm in your town increases your income as other players build restaurants in their suburbs. As you progress more into the game, the tiles become more expensive and more complex in terms of interaction. On your turn, you purchase a tile, place it in your suburb, and resolve all effects of that tile, the tiles adjacent to it, the tiles in your suburb, and the tiles in the other players' suburbs. Then you collect your income and add/subtract your population based on your reputation. As always, this is not meant to replace the rule book (as you know by now), so be sure to read through it a couple of times before you play. I should also mention that at the beginning of the game, end-game bonus discs are revealed, and one is selected in secret. These goals award bonus population at the end of the game if you have the most/least _____. For instance, you can earn bonus points for having the worst reputation. That one is my favorite, because it means I get to make the worst suburb possible. Once the bonus points are added in, the person with the most points (i.e. population) is the winner.

So what do I think? I feel like a broken record, but this is another game that we enjoy. Each game will be different because you do not use every tile, so there is variability in what tiles appear. There are 20 goals as well, so there will be many different combinations of goals. Plus, it really does feel like you are building up your suburb. The tiles interact thematically as you would expect. Building parks cost money but improves the look (and reputation) of your city. Too many factories and no one wants to live there. We're really that this one is part of our collection. It's not a game for newbies, but if you're a serious gamer, you should definitely get Suburbia.