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Subject: Suburbia as a 2 player game rss

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Sharon Khan
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Shefford
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This review is part of my series of reviews of how multiplayer games work with just 2 players. For the full list see: My 2 player game reviews.

Rules - how are they different in a 2 player game?

The number of tiles in each stack scales with the different number of players, so the stacks are smaller with 2 than with 3, which are smaller than those with 4. That's the only difference in a 2 player game.

How is the game different with 2?

There are two main differences, both resulting from the zero-sum nature of the game with just 2 players.

The first is the importance of the central shared goals. With 4 players you'd expect to score maybe 1 of them each, and if you want to ignore one, you can, as it's quite likely that two of the other players will compete, so it won't go cheaply. In a 2 player game every time you give up on a goal, you are basically handing those points to your opponent - so you need to have a very good reason to do so! This means that the ones with minimum number of a type of building often result in no buildings of that colour being built in a 2 player game, as neither side is willing to break the deadlock. Similarly ones for most of something are usually hotly contested, with buildings of the appropriate colour/type being bought almost instantly as soon as they appear. This has a secondary effect of income being much more important, as to fight effectively for the goals, you really need to be in a position to buy the tiles.

The second aspect of the game that is different is the way the two players interact when competing for tiles. As the game tends to be much more based on the goals in the centre, there isn't so much variance in the value of the tiles between the two players as with 4 players. A few tiles may be vastly more valuable to one player or other, but the majority are either useless to both, or very valuable to both, and so the market gets stuck more regularly, with tiles at the top being bought as they appear, and all lower tiles just being taken as lakes, or from core buildings, as neither player is interested in them. In a 4 player game I don't see this so much, as generally every tile in the row is of interest to somebody, and strategies between players tend to differ more.

The other main difference with the 2 player game is the lack of downtime. Although I don't find Suburbia generally a slow game, there are players who get stuck with AP on their turns, trying desperately to work out the values of the different tiles, in all the different places they could go - and as there's very little planning you can do until it gets close to your turn, there are times when it can feel a bit sluggish, especially if the slow player is sitting to your left. With 2 players this is much less of an issue, as even if the other player does spend a bit of time thinking, there is much more you can plan with just one player taking ahead of you, rather than three.

The last difference with more players is the way the multiplayer interaction works, sometimes causing less desirable situations than the zero-sum 2 player game. For instance, if two players ignore the same goal early on, the remaining two players are almost forced to fight for it, or just hand the points to the other player - sometimes this can be awkward, particularly if that goal conflicts with your personal one. There can also be mild kingmaker issues at end-game when taking tiles, particularly for hotly contested goals - not an issue every time, but it's a situation that always has the potential for bad-feeling.

Verdict

I love this game both 2 player and multiplayer. It has a subtly different feel with 2, but the basic gameplay is unchanged, and there are some advantages to the more zero-sum 2 player version.

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Ron
Austria
Vienna
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Great review, Sharon!

I like this game even more as a two player than as a multiplayer (and my wife likes it too). I'm looking forward to the expansion! meeple
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Todd
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Warren
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A very nice review, I do agree that the game if far different with 2 than with 3 or 4.

I do think the game is big fun with 2

The end game does come down to the goals with two players, so much so some games end with an obvious winner.
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Holger Hannemann
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Upper Heyford
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Fantastic assessment Sharon! Have some GG.
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Very useful, thank you!
 
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David Etherton
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Carlsbad
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I wonder how the game would work in 2p if you removed all the public goals, and drew from a specific subset of the goals (for example, don't put "most whatever" and "least whatever" in the pool together) for each player's private goal. To balance out the luck factor (some goals are worth more than others) maybe even choose goals that have the same point values, and/or have "draw three keep two".

(I'm sure this aren't new suggestions, but the goals come up a lot as complaints from people who haven't liked the game as much).

-Dave
 
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Todd
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Warren
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etherton wrote:
I wonder how the game would work in 2p if you removed all the public goals, and drew from a specific subset of the goals (for example, don't put "most whatever" and "least whatever" in the pool together) for each player's private goal. To balance out the luck factor (some goals are worth more than others) maybe even choose goals that have the same point values, and/or have "draw three keep two".

(I'm sure this aren't new suggestions, but the goals come up a lot as complaints from people who haven't liked the game as much).

-Dave


I agree, those goals can irritate some players and could simply be avoided to keep those players playing.
 
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Nathan
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Great, I really enjoyed my first game of this with 4 players but now I will have to get it for my own family now I know it is good for 2 players! Dunno why I tipped this, it will cost me real money now!

Joking, kind of, thanks for the review Sharon.
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