Many people attempt to compare these two games. In this post I will attempt to compare and contrast the two games and hopefully generate some good discussion.
1. I think the most common reason these two games are compared is due to a thematic similarity. Both games are about humans attempting to colonize dangerous and inhospitable environments.
2. Beyond themes, both games have a gigantic pool of cards. And the cards in both games have humans undertaking some fairly spectacular feats of science, engineering, and ingenuity.
3. Both games have a main board and separate player boards. Both games have engine and tableau building aspects.
4. Honestly that’s where the similarities end. The game play between both games is wildly different. Underwater Cities is a tense worker placement game where you need to be maximizing your 3 actions each round. Each era also has a production phase with a “feed your cities” aspect that reminds me vaguely of Agricola.
5. Terraforming Mars, on the other hand, presents a vast array of possibilities for you to comb through and build your engine. I never felt the same round by round pressure that you feel in Underwater Cities.
6. The question is then: Which one do you go with? My answer: Both! The two games play so fundamentally different that there is space in a collection for both games. And both games are spectacular.
Underwater Cities is a game for 1-4 players where you are tasked with developing an underwater nation over 10 rounds of gameplay. The game utilizes worker placement, hand management, engine (and tableau) building, and building placement on your personal player board.
Let’s dive right on in!
(+) The art in this game is evocative and well thought out. The main game board has a cool technology-themed look to it. The player boards look like blueprints of an underwater neighborhood. The art on the cards is fantastic.
(+) Component quality is very good to good. The most important components, the cards, are very high quality. They have that excellent “feel” to them that you just know it when you feel it. The player boards are nice thicker card board. A couple of mine have a very slight warp to them, but nothing even close to significant. I love the look and tactility of the city domes. They feel so satisfying to place down! The various buildings (little green, yellow, and white discs) are very nice quality but I wished they stacked a little bit better. The resource chits and workers are nice chunky cardboard that feel great to manipulate.
(-) By far the worst component in the box is the player aid sheet. These are essentially a piece of glossy paper with information printed one side. Once you have the sheet on the table it’s fine, but if you aren’t careful with your games this could definitely be an issue.
(+) Honestly I was expecting the components to be really quite awful, based mostly on other reviews that I’ve heard about the game. But overall they are quite excellent.
(+) The rulebook is good. It has lots of great examples and the graphic design is well done. I actually enjoyed reading the book, and that’s usually a good sign.
(+) The combination of worker placement and card play is brilliant. When you send a worker to a spot you must also play a card from your hand. To complicate this there are three colors of worker placement spaces and three colors of cards. If you send a worker to a space and play a matching color card you get to take the bonus action on the card in addition to the worker placement action.
(+) This system creates some really intense decisions. Do you take that yellow action that you really need even though you don’t have a yellow card? Or do you go for a less optimal action but gain a bonus from a card in your hand?
(+) Building your underwater cities is really satisfying. You start with one lonely little city but you slowly begin to expand -as your engine grows the growth of your nation speeds up. By the end of the game you’ve developed an interesting collection of abilities and pieces to your tableau.
(+) The AI is really easy to handle, as it really isn’t AI. Each round the other player blocks 3 or 4 worker spots. This can be absolutely devastating or it might not bother you at all. It just depends on what you are trying to accomplish that round.
(+) There is a lot of tension in the game as it only lasts 10 rounds. You need to try to maximize every single thing that you can in order to succeed. I have yet to win in the single player mode.
I’m very impressed with #Underwater Cities. There is a ton of depth to this game and I’ve barely scratched the surface. The interlocking systems are so clever and the pressure to accomplish as much as you can each round creates interesting and tough decisions. I highly recommend this game!
After an incredibly busy and stressful week at the pharmacy I finally sat down and told Phil what game(s) I would pick for my giveaway.
I started off knowing that I wanted to add #Terraforming Mars: Prelude, which is around $15 on Amazon. This left me with $45 to get the main prize. And let me tell you, there are about 8 billion games at that price point.
In the end I decided to go with a game that I would want to play mostly by myself, thinking that if I want to get a game to play with a group then I could spend my own money. In the end I picked #Underwater Cities. This game looks incredible and the engine building and city building looks amazing.
By Calvin Wong Pulsar 2849
From the designer of Last Will and Underwater Cities comes Pulsar 2849, an engine building game of space exploration, energy harvesting, and dice drafting.
If, like me, you're one of those players who likes to have load...
[Grifters: Nexus, Grifters, Underwater Cities, Last Will, Pulsar 2849, Wordsy]