Posted Saturday, 16-Apr-2016
A strong and healthy community is one made of different groups of people working together to make the whole greater than the sum of their parts. According to Suburbia, the same is true of a small city.
Released in 2012 by Bezier Games, makers of One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, and Subdivision, Suburbia is a medium weight tile laying game that will run most groups about 90 minutes. It plays 1-4, though the solo mode necessitates running a “bot”, humorously named Dale in the rulebook.
In Suburbia, players all start with the same 3-tile suburb; it’s a small simple town consisting of some homes, a government building, and a factory. Over the course of the game, players will add everything from landfills to stadiums, airports to mints, and fast food restaurants to skyscrapers in an attempt to attract the most people to live in their city.
Each tile belongs to a type, and more often than not contains bonuses or penalties based on nearby hexes. Building Housing Projects next to anything but industry will decrease the reputation of your little town, while the landfill can only be placed penalty-free next to a neutral lake! On the other hand, your citizens will love you if the sports Stadium is near the residential areas and your income will soar the more airports are built, even if it’s one of your opponents building them!
You can’t simply take your pick of hexes however, as each game only uses a subset of the included tiles. Getting a good airport early can pay off if there are more in the stack, or just cost you a lot of money if more don’t show up. Additionally, tiles come out sequentially on a real estate market that provides a way for old tiles to get cheaper the more they are passed over. Deciding whether to overpay for a tile to prevent your opponent from getting it can make for difficult decisions, and you’ll find the tempo of each game changing based on which tiles you see.
In addition to population, players must track their Income and Reputation. At the end of each turn, players earn (or pay!) their income and gain (or lose!) population based on their reputation.
As your population grows and grows, you will pass checkpoints that require you to lose income and reputation as a form of upkeep. This means that players who shoot ahead in population too quickly can find themselves unable to keep their income up to purchase high-value tiles late in the game. There is a tense risk vs reward aspect to your decisions all the way through the game.
While more complicated than other popular tile-laying games like Carcasonne, Suburbia is a tense and meaty affair. It’s a game with excellent replayability even before you add either of its two excellent expansions: Suburbia Inc and Suburbia 5*.
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