Between a Magic prerelease event and D&D, I only managed to play one board game yesterday – and that game was Suburbia, a relatively light game that Dave and Rich played with me. After quite a number of heavier games during the week, it was nice to relax with this game. It’s a game I would categorise at about the same level as Carcassonne and Alhambra; you always have an interesting decision to make on your turn, but the number of decisions is never overwhelming.
The basic play of the game is simple. On your turn, you buy a tile from those available, then place it in your city. Each tile will give benefits such as income, reputation or population. Most tiles also trigger other effects depending on where they’re placed or what other types of tiles are placed. As some tiles give you benefits when your opponents play tiles, you need to be paying attention to what your opponents are doing. Thankfully, there aren’t so many triggers that I’ve become overwhelmed.
More interest is added to the game through goals. Each goal gives you a population boost at the end of the game based on having the most or least of something. One goal per player is made public at the beginning of the game, and each player also has one secret goal (chosen from two) that only they can complete. If you tie for an award, neither player gets the award, so you have to be careful.
The goals in this particular game (which was Rich’s first) were particularly challenging: Least Income, Least Reputation, and Fewest Investments (x2 markers). The rewards were substantial, but was it worth the cost?
Income is quite important in the game, because without it you can’t buy things. (You can survive by placing lakes, but you lose a lot of turns that way). Reputation affects your Population at the end of each turn – a high reputation gives you a lot of bonus Population, and a low one will cost you population. As the winner of the game has the best population, it’s quite important!
My secret goal this game was to have the most Airports. I’ve seen games go by without any Airports being drawn at all, so I was quite pleased to gain a municipal airport very quickly into the game. My early plays were all about building up my income, although my reputation also grew modestly in the early game.
Rich and Dave struggled somewhat with their income and reputation. Dave went for some early residential developments, whilst Rich split between civil and commercial developments, with quite a few lakes.
As the game progressed, my income dropped but my reputation stayed positive, and I reaped the rewards of gaining a large population – at least compared to my friends! Rich and Dave actually ended up with a negative reputation for much of the game, and were definitely competing for worst reputation at game’s end. Each ended at -4 reputation as the game ended, which denied them the 20 population bonus! Both had better incomes than mine at the end – although I’d started strongly, my income had dropped as my city grew in size, and neither Dave nor Rich really competed there. No-one invested at all, which may have been a mistake. However, for players just learning the game, it tends to be an action you don’t think about.
Before we scored our goals, it was pretty certain that I’d won – I had a sizeable lead and it only got bigger with the only public goal completed, least income. We each completed our secret goals, with Rich requiring a large Public complex, while Dave needed the most Industrial districts. Dave and Rich actually tied for final score, and they were $1 away from each other on the tiebreaker.
Final Scores: Merric 104, Dave 54, Rich 54.