In my review of Urban Sprawl, I noted that one of the items that I found to be most problematic, the high impact Metropolis deck cards, is one of the items that are most easily corrected for simply by not including the contract cards that are most likely to cause massive swings in victory points. The cards I find most problematic are:
University (4 permits, Education 5, 2 VP payout, Each player gains 4 VP for each RES and CIV they own)
Marina (4 permits, Ignore zoning restrictions, For each 1-lot RES they control, players must pay you $4 or 4 VP)
Port (4 permits, Transportation 7, 4 VP payout, Each player gains 4 VP and $4 for each IND they control)
Temple (2 permits), 1 VP payout, For each RES they control, players must pay you $4 or 4 VP)
The simplest solution to dealing with these cards is to simply not include them in the game. This is easily resolved by simply making it so the Metropolis deck has its normal array of 15 cards on top, a random 7 below that, and then 11 more after that. Doing it this way has the added bonus of making it so you are more likely to see any given card and thus there will be a somewhat lower level of variance in the game. On the downside you are removing three VP payout cards from the game, decreasing the value of the 4 VP, 1 VP, and 2 VP rows even further.
An equally viable alternative, particularly if you have a group that is open to house rules, is to simply halve the effects of these cards. This still makes them valuable, but doesn’t make them as game warping as they are now. $2 per building (for the Marina and Temple) is much easier to deal with and plan around then $4 is and it makes it so it is a much more reasonable choice to not take them and either not build on your turn or discard some permit cards to have an additional financial cushion. The University and Port are still strong, maybe a little bit too strong, but aren’t game winners by themselves. This also has the benefit of not reducing the number of VP payout cards in the deck, as noted above, keeping the original distribution intact.
If your biggest problem is the swinginess of the Metropolis deck cards, then one of these two solutions will probably resolve the problem for you. There are a few other buildings (The Historical Monument and the Nuclear Plant, for example) that can have very big payouts but they require either very specific circumstances or lots of forward planning to carry out, and thus are much less problematic. Of course, removing these cards does not resolve the other problematic bits of chaos from the game, but it does lessen it somewhat, which may be enough for some.
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