The Design and Care of a Tile-Based City Builder

Tile-based city building games are among my favorites. That’s in large part due to the creativity that they introduce. I mean, I’m one of the generation that grew up with SimCity (1989), obliviously building until the sun began to flood into my college dorm room, suggesting that it was time to be off to bed. I love being able to put together the puzzle pieces of a city, and a good tile-based city builder lets you do that.

City TycoonThe General Shape of the Game

When I’m talking about tile-based city builders, I’m specifically limiting my consideration to game designs that meet several criteria:

  1. Obviously, they allow you to build cities out of tiles: usually square tiles, but occasionally hexes.
  2. Often, you’ll have your own city that you’re working on … but quite a few games instead have you contributing to to a joint city.
  3. The tiles that you place are complete and coherent buildings, businesses, residences, or other structures within a city. They’re not just parts of a whole.

There are probably hundreds of tile-based city games that I could have picked from in writing this article. I opted for the ones that I know the best, because I’ve played them. I’ve mostly focused on recent ones. My complete list for this article includes: Acquire (1964), Alhambra (2003), Between Two Cities (2015), Big City (1999)Carcassonne: The City (2004), Chinatown (1999), City Tycoon (2011), Key to the City: London (2016), Quadropolis (2016), Saint Malo (2012), Suburbia (2012), and Urbania (2012). Obviously I could have picked others (and I may expand this article in the future).  Continue reading

New to Me: Fall 2012

I’ve continued to be largely incommunicado in recent weeks, and that’s been due to illness. Before the 2nd I hadn’t even played any games in a couple of weeks, which will tell you how sick I’ve been. As a result, my newest “new to me” column is about a month later than usual.

This one talks about the games that I played in October, November, and December that I’d never played before.

The Great

Timeline (2011). I was surprised to discover that I’d only started playing this in fall because it’s already become a regular part of my game nights. The concept is simple: each player is dealt a handful of discoveries, events, or inventions. One at a time you have to place these in a timeline in their correct order. So it’s a trivia game, which I usually hate, but somehow this one really works. Maybe because the guessing seems simple enough. You just have to figure out where a card goes relative to the others. The result is surprisingly thoughtful and fun and … dare I say it … educational. Its really quick gameplay helps a lot too.

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