Game Buzz: Suburbia

Another game that has some good buzz going into Spiel (which is happening this week) is

image by BGG user Mavericius

Suburbia is a new city-building game designed by Ted Alspach and published by his company Bezier Games.  It’s a 1-4 player game for ages 8 and up that takes 90 minutes to play.  In Suburbia, you’re building a small town into a major metropolis, and attempting to grow your population as high as you possibly can.  I’ve been hearing good things about it for a while now, so let’s take a look.

The game comes with a population board; three triangular boards (for stacks, the real estate market, and the supply); 4 borough boards; 8 suburb tiles; 8 heavy factories; 8 community parks; one “one more round” tile; 32 A tiles; 36 B tiles; 32 C tiles; 20 goal tiles; 4 player aids; a start player marker; 126 coins in denominations of $1, $5, and $10 (million, that is); 4 reputation cubes; 4 population squares; 12 investment markers; and 4 income cylinders.  Each player starts with 0 income, 1 reputation, and 2 population, as well as $15.  The top 7 tiles of the A stack are laid out at the bottom edge of the real estate market, and each player gets one suburb, one community park, and one heavy factory for their borough board.  They also get 2 random goals, from which they will choose one at random to keep, discarding the other from the game.  One common goal per player is dealt face up.

On your turn, 1) you take and place a tile or place an investment marker in your borough; 2) collect or pay money; 3) adjust population based on your reputation; and 4) add a new tile to the real estate market.

1a. TAKE A TILE FROM THE REAL ESTATE MARKET: Pay the real estate market cost of the tile you want (printed on the market board) plus the cost on the tile.  The tile is placed adjacent to one of the tiles in the player’s borough.  This will cause some effects to be triggered, such as increasing your income or reputation.

1b. TAKE A BASIC TILE: You can choose, instead, to take a basic tile (suburb, community park, heavy factory).  If you do, you only pay the cost of the tile.  You then discard any tile from the real estate market.

1c. TAKE A TILE AS A LAKE: Pay the real estate market price of a tile, but not the cost on the tile.  You’ll play the tile face down as a lake, taking $2 per adjacent building tile.

1d. PLACE AN INVESTMENT MARKER: Pay the cost of the tile in your borough (yes, again), and place an Investment marker there.  This doubles the effect of the tile, and remains in place for the rest of the game.  You will have to discard a tile from the real estate market.

2. COLLECT OR PAY MONEY: If your income is positive, collect that money.  If you income is negative, pay that money.  If you don’t have enough money to pay, you’ll move your population marker back one space per dollar you owe.

3. ADJUST POPULATION: Increase or decrease your population by the amount where your reputation cube is located.  As your population increases and crosses a red line, your income and reputation and income are each reduced by one.  Income and reputation can never go below -5.

4. ADD A NEW TILE TO THE REAL ESTATE MARKET: Slide remaining tiles in the market to the right and draw a new one from the current stack.

When the “one more round” marker is flipped over, one more full round is played after the current round is completed.  Population is increased based on accomplished goals and money is converted to population (red lines are ignored).  The player with the highest population wins.

This game seems very simple and easy to play.  I have no idea how all the tiles will work together, but it seems like you can get some good combos happening.  There’s no tile manifest, but it looks like there are some things you can do to mess with others.  Otherwise, this might be very much a solitaire game, so that’s good.

I haven’t really played any games by Alspach, other than Ultimate Werewolf (which, to be fair, he didn’t actually design, just refined).  But he usually seems to have a good sense of whimsy and humor in his games.  This one, however, seems to be more of a serious Euro effort.  The theme seems a little thin, but then, it doesn’t need to be fantastic.  The mechanisms seem solid enough, but only playing the game will really help me to know what’s going on.

So that’s Suburbia.  I’ll be looking forward to hearing how it’s received at Spiel this week.  Thanks for reading!

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