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An Oldie But Goodie - Suburbia Thoughts After 2 Plays

Premium User
Review

So I don't know if anyone will actually care about this - particularly since #Suburbia came out in 2012 and whoever was going to play it probably already did by now. Though I suppose with #Suburbia: Collector's Edition being a fairly recent thing, some of you might be interested. But I've told both and I'd give my thoughts on it after I gave it a go. 

As a huge fan of games like Sim City growing up and now of course Cities Skylines, I've always been interested in #Suburbia to try and get some of those same feels just in a board game. I've heard it's probably the best implementation of a game like Sim City that there is, so when I was finally able to pick it up in a math trade, I was hyped. Since I received it, I played it both solo and at 2 player and just wanted to share some thoughts.

The Components

Nothing too special here, just loads of cardboard hexagonal tiles. It does come with a nice wooden first player marker in the shape of a skyscraper. The boards are modular, though I'm not exactly sure why. And of course with my copy being used, it's a little beat up around the edges but it still looks great! I'm not good enough to take pictures with my posts :P so you'll just have to look up the art for yourselves, but it's nothing special. I've heard the Collector's Edition has much better art and a nice insert to fit everything not only to store but for easier play. I saw a video Rahdo posted of it where it also appeared to have a neat looking tower for holding the tiles which I will admit would have been a great edition.

The Rulebook

This game is fairly simple and the rulebook definitely makes it easy to follow. They give some pretty clear examples for how the tiles play off each other and the order of the how you should look at things. There is a supplemental rulebook that lists all the different tiles for your reference just so you know what may come up in the game.

Gameplay

So the way the game works is you have 3 stacks of a set number of tiles depending on player count. Stacks are A, B, and C (creative I know). You start off by setting up your suburb with the basic tiles. Remaining basic tiles are always available to purchase and add to your suburb if you so choose. As long as they're still available that is..

You fill up the market with the first 7 tiles from the A stack. Each tile has a set base value printed on it and on the market track an added cost ranging from $0-10. When it's your turn, you buy a tile from either the market or the basic tiles and place it in your suburb. Most tiles have an immediate effect that will either increase/decrease your income or reputation. Many tiles also award adjacency bonuses which are checked after immediate effects. Then you have to check for your previously placed tiles adjacency bonuses, plus any other tile bonuses in either your own or your opponents suburbs. All bonuses will award you further increases/decreases of income or reputation or in some cases, give you straight cash or population. You may also play a tile as a lake. To do this, you take the tile, paying only the added cost from the market track, flip it over and place it in your suburb. Lakes grant you $2 per adjacent tile. When you place a basic tile, you must additionally remove a tile from the market, paying only it's additional cost, so that you can adjust the market. As you'd expect, the market tiles slide down and therefore get cheaper as the game goes on.

If you don't want to place any tile, you also have access to 3 multiplier tokens. Instead of taking a tile, you place one of these on an existing tile in your display, paying the base cost for it again. It will double the effect for that tile for the remainder of the game, but they can't move so you have to use them wisely. As with the basic tiles, you have to get rid of one tile from the market. We didn't use these tokens at all so I'm not sure how much they add.

After you place your tile (it's a lot faster than my explanation trust me lol) you collect your income per your income track along with bumping your population according to your reputation track. These can be both positive gains or negative losses and range from -5 to 15. The goal is to get the most population by the end of the game. The game end is trigger by a certain tile shuffled into the C stack.

I should also mention, on the main board there are red lines between numbers on the population track. Should you ever cross these red lines, and you by all means should but not too quickly, you are required to drop your income and reputation tracks by one. The cost of having a bigger suburb I guess. And finally there are goal tiles. Both public goals equal to the number of players and private goals. Public goals can be won by anyone - in the case of a tie no one gets anything - and private goals can only be won by whoever has that tile. These are pretty standard things like most numbr of commercial buildings in your suburb or highest income.

Solo Game

Still awake? Good lol. The rulebook gives rules for 2 separate solo variants. One is strictly a solo setup beat your score type where you don't use the end of game goal tiles. You set up for a 2 player game. The only real differences are after you've purchased your tile, you must also discard a second tile from the market and when you pass a red line, you drop your income and reputation by 2 each instead of 1.

The second variant includes an AI player, "Dale." You play as both yourself and Dale and have to select his tiles based on some math-y stuff to basically get him the most optimal play. For this set up, you put fewer tiles in the market and Dale gets a discount on the tiles he purchases. The scoring was listed as the same for both variants therefore I saw no reason to have the added upkeep of a bot player, so I opted for the solo only variant.

Boy do I wish I played with Dale instead. I found it extremely difficult to gain any kind of meaningful income throughout the game and even if I did, I would end up passing a red line and being forced to drop it. I didn't realize that certain tiles also gave benefits based on your opponent's tiles which is where Dale would have been most useful. I barely scored more than half of the first threshold for scoring. Meaning that to get to the next level I would have needed 60 points. I scored a whopping 35. It was wonderful haha. I'm going to have to give this another try with the Dale variant for sure because I think this could be a great game solo.

Gameplay at 2

Here we go! My fiancée loves watching me play Cities Skylines on the Xbox so I thought she would love this game and love it she did! It was a pretty back and forth game with me jumping out to an early lead, her catching up and flying ahead, then me getting a big population boost towards the end to overtake her. She had an awesome money engine going and could have bought just about any tile she wanted the whole game. My private goal was to have the least income so I was perfectly okay with letting her beat me there. Little did I know, her private goal was to have the most income (go figure) so that was basically a wash. She won one of the public goals, most reputatio, and had a ton of money to convert into population (every $5 is 1 population at the end of the game). What really killed her was miscounting how many commercial buildings I had built. We each had 5, tying the second public goal, so neither of us got anything from that. I won in a nailbiter 91-88.

Theme

In my opinion, the theme really works. For the longest time, my suburb was just heavy industry and freeways and I kept having to drop down the population track. And that totally makes sense. Certain tiles, like the parking lot, generate money for commercial and municipal buildings adjacent to them which again makes sense thematically. It really felt like you were building up a suburb and trying to get people to live there.

Final Thoughts

I'm really glad I finally got this game. I'm a little bummed that they came out with the Collector's Edition shortly before I did if only because it looks a lot nicer than my version. That being said, we agreed that the upgraded components weren't totally necessary as the game is perfectly fine as it stands. My fiancée really enjoyed the puzzle of it all and didn't seem to mind so much when I took a tile she had her eye on. Just a quick "uggghhh" then she moved on haha. That's a huge plus for me as she seems to rarely like anything new, so it was refreshing that she got some genuine enjoyment out of this one. I think it's become a must keep for my collection.

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2 months ago

is it an oldie already?!

(or am I getting old :D)

Premium User2 months ago

I think 8 years now..that's like 50 in the board game world

2 months ago

"I thought you said this was a snackbuilder"  

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Two Player Board Games For Serious Gamers • Two Can Play That

Premium User2 months ago

That's so cute hahaha

2 months ago

is it an oldie already?!

(or am I getting old :D)

Premium User2 months ago

The more I look at this game the more I think I should pick it up and sell my copy of #Cities: Skylines - The Board Game which really doesn't do it for me.

I love my city building games on PC so this one might just be worth a serious look to get some of that goodness in cardboard format.

Thanks for the review!

Premium User2 months ago

Welcome! Based only on the little I've seen of #Cities: Skylines - The Board Game, and I'll admit that is VERY little lol, I agree -  sell it! The only problem with this one is it's hugely expensive right now. I'm not entirely sure why that would be but the cheapest you can find it new online is like $100. Even for the collectors edition too. It's definitely not worth that for me.

Premium User2 months ago

Yeah, no rush, I have plenty to play and if I've learned anything there will be a reprint or someone else will remake the game mechanisms if a reprint isn't coming.

Premium User2 months ago

That's a strong possibilty. But yeah I hear you there..so many other games to be played.

Supporter2 months ago

Did you say you play cities skylines on the Xbox? Blasphemy!

Premium User2 months ago

Well so...I have a mac otherwise I would definitely play on PC.. lol

Supporter2 months ago

I've had my eye on this one for quite a while. Seems quite good. Thanks for your review, it was a good read. 

Premium User2 months ago

Thanks for reading it! It was better than I expected it to be! And that's despite it being on my wishlist for awhile now too. Just never had to opportunity to pick up a copy.

Supporter2 months ago

I enjoy it but it does fall a little too much into the "multiplayer solitaire" territory for me to really love it.

On my Top Games by Personal Value list it ranks at number 16 out of 80 ranked games. Personal value being determined by a complex formula that factors in Rating, number of Plays, and Cost of the game, with weighting favoring overall Rating. So I've certianly gotten my money's worth out of it.

Premium User2 months ago

Really? That's kind of surprising to me because with the tiles from the other suburbs being able to have an effect on you, I didn't find it too much like multiplayer solitaire at all. Well at least compared to other games I've played that were. And believe me I've played quite a few haha.

This value list has me intrigued. I'd love to see the full list!

Supporter2 months ago

I've tried to make the personal value list a topic here a few times months back but the website didn't like me posting spread sheet tables into a topic. Never got it to go through. Maybe I will give it another shot...

Owner2 months ago

I can try and figure out what went wrong. Can you send me a message or an email with what you're trying to post so I can test it out?

Premium User2 months ago

Huh...I'd guess would be able to help there if it's possible anyway

Owner2 months ago

Thanks for tagging me.

2 months ago

I've only played a few times IRL, but a bunch on the app.

I really like the balancing act between growth and quality of life, and the various goals. Sometimes you want your city to be a dump. :)

Premium User2 months ago

I've heard the app is really good too and makes a lot of people never want to play the real game. Do you feel the same way?

And yes absolutely sometimes you want it to be a dump haha. But not too much of a dump

2 months ago

No, if I had it in cardboard, I'd definitely play. Can't own them all, though. :)

Premium User2 months ago

That's good to hear as a new owner of the game haha. But yeah it's especially difficult to find right now for a decent price.

2 months ago

Awesome! It sounds like you'll get to play this more in the future with your fiancee.

Premium User2 months ago

Yeah that's the plan! It's a little rare she likes the games I want to play these days. Most are too heavy for her to find fun. This only has a 2.77 weight rating on BGG so not too light but think-y enough to get into.

2 months ago

Yay! Hopefully it also makes her want to try more games :)

Premium User2 months ago

I sure hope so! I just have to find the right balance again and try my hardest not to seem too eager to play all the time haha

2 months ago

Yep, can't burn her out on games

Premium User2 months ago

Well I could but that's not ideal. I'm just glad she liked this one

2 months ago

great runthrough. I'd like to play this someday