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Subject: Comparing Suburbia vs. Among the Stars rss

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Bryan K
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Comparing Suburbia and Among the Stars

On the surface these games seem very alike and seem to be mentioned together a lot. So, I thought a review like this could help people see the similarities and differences of the two.

Similarities: Both games are based on building a layout of locations in front of you where you will compete to build your layout better and more efficiently than your competition. In both games, you'll need to constantly evaluate how to best spend the limited financially resources you have to maximize victory points. In both, you are primarily concerned with building your own location layout, while primarily affecting the other players by what you leave available. You'll do so while competing to obtain certain objective goals that will provide a victory point bonus at the end.

Main Differences:
Suburbia
Engine Building - Suburbia adds an engine building element to your building layout. You are building locations that will increase your income and/or reputation. A proper engine will start building income early, then switch to building reputation to bring in population (Victory Points). Income and Reputation are kept track on a +/- and are collected at the end of the turn. Sort of like a net income/reputation rate that is totaled up by all your locations.
Hidden Objectives- Each player has a hidden objective that only they can score at the end of the game.
Plan Ahead – You have a slightly greater ability to plan ahead in Suburbia because all players are choosing from seven available tiles. Three of those tiles will definitely be available on your next turn, and will likely be the 3 most expensive left most ones. As each player buys a location another tile becomes available. Therefore, you can see what will likely be available on your next turn to think ahead. In both games you can lay out your locations in hopes of getting a certain location to put in the middle of them all.
SimCity Theme- The city building theme feels just like the old 16 Bit SimCity I use to play. These theme might be more universal to people who are not science fiction fans.

Among the Stars-
Variable Player Powers – The base game comes with 8 Alien Races that have a special ability that helps you "break" the rules of the game to your advantage. Some get more money and some have special power reactors. All feel very balanced and allow you to play a different strategy.
Conflict Cards – With the base game a set of cards is included to increase player interactivity. The idea is you compare a location type (diplomatic, administration, recreation, business, or military) If you have more of a chosen player you can steal points from them. Expansions come with other interactive card types (relocation, infestation, taxation)

Tactical – As meaning, you need to make immediate decisions based on the cards you get through card drafting. You won't see the other player's hand of cards until it rotates into your hand. In a 4 player game you will 2 of your cards again, but there is minimal telling which will be available. In a 6 player game, you will not see your cards again. This also creates less downtime since each player is playing simultaneously in the base game. Timing becomes more important as Ambassadors are added.

Sci-Fi Theme- The Sci-Fi theme comes out strong with beautiful art and cool clear energy cubes. Might appeal to a crowd who would find the city building bland.

More Expansions – Among the Stars has 3 expansions: Ambassadors, Promos 1, and Promos 2. Ambassadors adds a level of complexity by having ambassador characters of each race you can invite to stay at your station. Each ambassador gives you an ability. The Expansions also allow you to play with up to 6 people instead of 4. They also give you more choices of location types, conflict types, and starting player powers.

Which one should I get?
Personally, both feel different enough to keep both in my collection. In comparing base games, Suburbia feels slightly heavier of a game that demands more thought process in maintaining income and reputation tracks. With adding expansions you can get more complexity with Ambassadors and Conflict. Suburbia has an expansion which adds more scoring methods and some neat tiles: Redevelopment Planner! While playing Suburbia, the downtime depends on people thinking a bit longer on each turn. Including expansions in both, Among the Stars has more variety of ways to play: adding conflict, different alien powers, and locations. Also, everyone plays at the same time so there is less downtime. The tiles might be slightly more interactive in ATS: mainly green diplomacy tiles have you giving points, taking money, etc. It is probably easier to teach and feels faster playing, but is lighter.

If you've played both, what are your thoughts?
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Brent Mair
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I've played Suburbia a few times and Among the Stars once. I have enjoyed both games and I"m quite interested in playing Suburbia dozens more times. I'd like to play Among the Stars again for sure. I really like games where things are built or created and both of these games give me that feeling. I really enjoy drafting but it was the small turnoff for me regarding Among the Stars, while other members of my group were concerned about the endgame scoring, which is a bit more work than in Suburbia. I see the Among the Stars endgame scoring as a feature, since it gives you another scoring vector.

Love Suburbia.

Really enjoyed my one play of Among the Stars and I hope for more.
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Joel Berg von Linde
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You forget one major difference: In AtS, round 4 feels pretty similar to round 1. Its the same pool of cards you see as the game develops. On the other hand, Suburbia has a progression in the tiles, since you go through three different stacks of tiles, A, B and C, varying in cost and ability.
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Bryan K
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Spielguy wrote:
..members of my group were concerned about the endgame scoring, which is a bit more work than in Suburbia. I see the Among the Stars endgame scoring as a feature, since it gives you another scoring vector.


This is a good point, my last game of ATS. I came from close to last to first because I had the most delayed scoring tiles. I used the calculator on my phone to add up 44 points which is almost one full trip around the score board.

joelpetersen wrote:
You forget one major difference: In AtS, round 4 feels pretty similar to round 1. Its the same pool of cards you see as the game develops. On the other hand, Suburbia has a progression in the tiles, since you go through three different stacks of tiles, A, B and C, varying in cost and ability.


Another fair point, the bigger/expensive tiles come out at the end of Suburbia. The cost of tiles does not increase over time in ATS since your income is the same: every year you start with 10 credits.
 
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Burke Martin
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Are there reprints coming?
 
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JDub
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Ted Alspach
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the reprint should be out sometime in Aug 2014.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/16250814#16250814
 
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