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Subject: SimSuburbs? YES!!! rss

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Ron Olivier, Sr.
United States
North Smithfield
Rhode Island
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While I enjoy new games immensely, and always try to find the best points about each game, it isn't often that I find a game that REALLY knocks my socks off. "Suburbia" is a game that presses all the right buttons. Though I’d consider it a medium-light strategy game, it’s one of the better games in that class, on par with such games as Ticket to Ride: Markiln and Airplanes: Europe.

Gameplay

The heart of this game is drafting tiles from the market and placing them in your suburb where they will be the most beneficial, growing your income, reputation, and population. Each tile has a price, and the marketplace adds on a surcharge that begins at $10 for new tiles, and decreases as tiles remain unsold. Waiting for a tile means you can get it cheaper, but can be risky if other players want it (or at least know that YOU want it). You can also use any tile in the marketplace as a `Lake', by turning it over and paying only the surcharge value.

There are four main categories of tiles - residential, civic, industrial, and commercial - and many different tiles within those categories. (For example, residential tiles include Suburbs, Apartments, Mobile Home parks, Homeowner Associations, etc.) They also are separated into A, B, and C groups. The `A' tiles enter the market in the early game, they're cheap and somewhat basic. Then the `B' tiles come in, and finally `C' towards the end of the game - these being the most expensive and powerful. This gives the game a natural flow. Where (and even WHEN) you place a tile really matters. Placing a Freeway next to a residential area? Not good! Place it next to a commercial area? GOOD!! The tiles usually make "real-world" sense, meaning that tiles like `Landfill' will get your town some income, but trying to build next to it won't be an easy sell.

In addition to the victory condition of having the biggest population at the end of the game, there are also public and private goals. These goals are pretty straightforward, such as `Most residential tiles', `Least Money', `Most Lakes', etc. One public goal per player is revealed at the beginning of the game, and players compete for these openly. Each person also has a private goal that only he knows, and gains the bonus if he attains it. The bonuses with these public and private goals are additional population, and can make a world of difference in your final score!

While there's no `conflict' with other players (i.e. trashing their neighborhood), there is plenty of indirect interaction. Buying a fast food restaurant in your suburb can have a negative impact on their fancy restaurant. Or if they've already built all the restaurants, you can share in their fortune by building a farm or a slaughterhouse that supplies them with food! Very sly, indeed! University: $15 ...turning the University into a Lake before your opponent can get his hands on it: Priceless!!!

Components
The game is well-made and attractive, and there are PLENTY of extra tiles (both property tiles and Goals tiles). It’s a beautiful thing to watch these multi-colored cities grow. The tiles are large enough so that they they’re pretty easy to read. The main scoreboard is the only ‘ugly’ piece, but it’s highly functional. Each player’s individual scoring strip is easy to access and understand.

Pros
1. Reminiscent of the old SimCity video games, which I used to love.
2. Individual tiles make sense thematically.
3. Open goals increases the competition for certain tiles, while hidden goals lets you try to work your strategy ‘Under the Radar’
4. For the most part, the game is extremely balanced. A couple of tiles are pretty powerful, but not so much that getting them increase your chances of victory.
5. Some tiles continue to gain points after your initial placement, giving you bonuses when you – or in some cases ANYONE – places certain other tiles.

Cons
1. You never know which tiles are in the game, so tiles that give bonuses/penalties based on other tiles are unpredictable.

Conclusion
"Suburbia" is a BIG hit at my house, and rightfully so. It is a rare find, one of those near-perfect games that come along far too infrequently. The play time (60 to 90 minutes) is just right…it leaves you wanting more while still feeling that you’ve accomplished something.

This is one of those games that makes you plan and strategize, then react to whatever tiles come up. Though it’s not a ‘brain-burner’, it does keep you thinking. It plays very well with 2 to 4 players, though I prefer the strategy with 4 (you often have to decide to pay a high surcharge for a tile or you KNOW someone else will buy it before your next turn).

I rank this one in my `elite' class. Believe the hype...I'm glad I did!!!
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Brandon Holmes
Canada
Caledonia
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If you buy the expansion please let us know your thoughts on that as well. Great review.
 
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Mike Urban
United States
Los Angeles
California
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rantinronrevue wrote:


Cons
1. You never know which tiles are in the game, so tiles that give bonuses/penalties based on other tiles are unpredictable.


Some would argue that this is not a 'con' but contributes to replayability.
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Peder Bergenwall
Sweden
Örebro
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Ostadan wrote:
rantinronrevue wrote:


Cons
1. You never know which tiles are in the game, so tiles that give bonuses/penalties based on other tiles are unpredictable.


Some would argue that this is not a 'con' but contributes to replayability.


This reminds me of the argument for/against Nations and the fact that not every card is used in that game.

Great review, can't wait to get my copy to the table!
 
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Shane Walsh
Australia
Adelaide
South Australia
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Two games in our gaming experience has been outstanding and come this Friday night I suspect it will get another run ...
 
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Ron Olivier, Sr.
United States
North Smithfield
Rhode Island
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Ostadan wrote:
rantinronrevue wrote:


Cons
1. You never know which tiles are in the game, so tiles that give bonuses/penalties based on other tiles are unpredictable.


Some would argue that this is not a 'con' but contributes to replayability.


Just to clarify myself a bit... I DO appreciate the many extra tiles that are included, and agree that it makes every game so much different. I wouldn't want to change that. On the other hand, there IS the frustration of buying a farm very early in a game where no restaurants end up in play. Either way, it's a great game!!!
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Brad Whiteman
United States
Middletown
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rantinronrevue wrote:

Just to clarify myself a bit... I DO appreciate the many extra tiles that are included, and agree that it makes every game so much different. I wouldn't want to change that. On the other hand, there IS the frustration of buying a farm very early in a game where no restaurants end up in play. Either way, it's a great game!!!


For the base game its not that big of the deal because of the variety; however, I do consider it a potential con when it comes to expansions. While I really liked the first expansion if the second does not include tiles that references the key words from the base set it will badly through off probability of being able to build an engine or the potential to have a dead goal because no tiles appear for it. Already have had a most Airports goal be a 4 way tie because none showed up.
 
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Volsted Gridban

Richmond
Virginia
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rantinronrevue wrote:
1. Reminiscent of the old SimCity video games, which I used to love.


I noticed earlier that the tile colors mimic the SimCity zoning colors from the earlier SimCity games: Green for residential, blue for commercial, and yellow for industrial.
 
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