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Designer Diary: Time to Square Off in City Square Off

Ted Cheatham
United States
West Virginia
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Board Game: City Square Off
I am pleased to announce that my latest game, City Square Off, will be published by Gamewright in April 2011. I am extremely excited both about this game and about working with Gamewright again!

How did this game come about? Let's turn the clock way back, all the way to 2004/2005 when I had three different game designs in progress that all used the same basic pieces: One game was about roller coaster parks, another about metropolitan development, and the third an economic bidding game. Funny thing, though, City Square Off was not one of those three games!

To create all of those shapes, I had used graph paper to design them, then cut them out. As best as I can remember, one afternoon I was working on the roller coaster game, in which players acquired various rides of different shapes and built them into a theme park with lakes and forests. I was working on the building rules and how players needed to maintain paths to various rides. While trying to determine the rules and the size of the board, the idea for City Square Off just hit me. I immediately made up a prototype and began to playtest the design, realizing quickly that I had come up with a very elegant tile-placement game.

W Eric Martin wrote:
Sorry to butt in here, but in his enthusiasm to talk about the game's history, Ted neglected to explain how to play the game, so here's a summary of play to get you grounded on what follows:

Each player starts with a set of 21 city tiles and a 9x9 playing area that has a six-block cityscape starter tile in the middle of it. Game play takes place simultaneously, with one player turning over a shape card – each showing a Tetris-style arrangement of squares that matches one of the city tiles – and both players then adding the matching tile to their cities.

Tiles must be placed with at least one edge adjacent to the starter tile or another tile in play. If a player would be forced to go outside the 9x9 city grid, that player loses; if both players would lose on the same turn, then the player with the largest contiguous group of open spaces is dubbed master city planner and wins the game. Okay, back to Ted's story... —WEM
Board Game: City Square Off

Oddly enough, there has been only one real change since the original prototype. The starting buildings were initially all the same shape, and now they are shaped differently to prevent the rare potential for a tie. (I had never had a tie with identical start pieces in any of the playtest sessions.) What makes that change exciting to me is that this game can scale well to multiple players. Even though the box comes as a head-to-head two-player game, with additional sets this game will easily play with 6-8 players.

So what began in graph paper at one of my daughter's soccer practices will soon have a life after six years of the submission/development process. City Square Off is a simple, elegant placement game lasting 15-20 minutes, and I think rather addicting. When you add Gamewright's terrific production value, you have, in my opinion, a great family game that all ages can enjoy!

Ted Cheatham
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Subscribe sub options Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:56 am
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