Card City

29 10 2012

Card City
Age: 12+
Players: 2-4 players
Duration: 15 to 45 minutes

Mrs Boxfart and I have been suffering with bouts of whatever name it is for what’s going around. In need of some entertainment after a day of lethargically doing nothing other than recharging the batteries (not literally; now that would be dull), we decided on playing something which involved minimal movement from the sofa.

Card City by Alban Biard appeared to fit the bill:

  • Small enough to fit on the coffee table
  • Plays with two
  • New one from Essen
  • Within easy reach
  • Short enough that we wouldn’t have to give up due to feeling bleugghhh

This is a game for 2 to 4 players who each take on the role of mayor. Each has to

“encourage the growth of the residential, commercial, industrial and cultural districts that make up your home, and to satisfy the demands of the city’s residents”

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Each player begins the game with 3 coins and a starting card, the city hall. There are various cards:
-Two types of development building: Commercial and Residential
-Two types of cultural buildings: City Hall and Leisure
-Two types of other buildings: Industrial and Parking

A set quantity of each of these cards are mixed to form the draw deck and the game begins.
A nice mechanic involves drawing twice the number of cards as players and the start player ‘offers’ two of these face-up to the next player. The remaining cards are shown half face-up and half face-down. If the player being offered takes the face up cards, the same process occurs for the next player. However if the player chooses the half up/down cards then it is the offering player who must take the cards.

I won’t go into all of the rules as these can be found here, but needless to say it’s not as simple as just laying cards out willy-nilly due to the construction restrictions, such as residential buildings being unable to be sited next to industrial ones.

Prior to an income phase there is a city expansion phase which, again subject to rules, allows your city to grow. In essence, commercial buildings earn you income throughout the game, residential earn you VIPs at the end of the game.

Close up of a city
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Our game
In our game this evening we found that for a small, short card game, there were a fair number of items to take into consideration and remember.
I seemed to struggle initially as just couldn’t get my hands on any residential or leisure buildings, whereas Mrs Boxfart couldn’t acquire Commercial or Industrial ones, but seemed to have no problem in gaining the near-useless Parking buildings. Nevertheless, we each made progress in our own cities.

In the end, Mrs Boxfart’s residential blocks scored multiple VIPs compared to my lacklustre 5! She had to lose 3pts (and I, 1pt) due to gaps in our 5×5 sized cities. However, my many and large Commercial districts left me with much income left over, and at 1pt for each 5 coins, I managed to win the game by 5 or so VIPs.

Summary
Despite its small size, there’s a lot of game held in the little box. There’s just enough interaction so it doesn’t feel completely solo in building your own cities. The playing time is great and there’s enough to remember in the rules with regards placement and development so you don’t just feel you’re playing a puzzle game. It played fine with two people with no changes to standard rules, however we felt that the drafting-type phase was better with 4.

We bought the game at Essen Spieltage 2012 and got a promo card which we have yet to play with. At €15 (about £13.50) we feel the game was priced just right for what it is and are certainly pleased with our purchase!

Ludibay shop Promo card
Ludibay shop Promo card

4 player game at hotel in Essen 2012
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