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Subject: Review of Capital rss

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Petri Savola
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When I went to Essen game fair this year, Capital was one of the games I wanted to try and perhaps buy, because city building is one of my favorite themes. We tried the game out as a 3 player game and I liked it. Rules were simple, gameplay was smooth and the game was visually appealing so I decided to purchase the game right away. Later we played the game twice at the hotel and now I'm looking forward to playing it again in the next gaming evening. This is usually a signal of a good game...

Summary

Capital is a quick and nice tile laying game for 2-4 players. The players are building their own district of the city of Warsaw by drafting tiles during 6 epochs of the game.

Box contents


The game contains a board, which has a scoring track from 0-50 and room for all of the tiles. The board reminds me of the board of Saint Petersburg. You also get a mermaid figurine for tracking the score and over 100 tiles (16 for each epoch) and coins which are made of thick cardboard. In my opinion the look and feel of the tiles is good and the graphical design is functional.

Note that players have to remember their color on the scoring track, because the mermaid figurine is the only colored component in the game. Some other games have an additional marker for this purpose.



The box also contains a plastic insert, which has 7 slots for all the tiles and 1 slot for money. This way you can sort tiles of each epoch to separate stacks before you pack the game back to the box and the slots are actually tight enough so the cardboard pieces will stay where you put them even if you carry the box upside down.

There are only 36 coins. So far we haven't ran out of money in the game, but it would be more convenient if the game would have had a bit more coins so the players don't have to change coins so often, but this is only a minor thing.

Rules

The rulebook contains 12 pages, but most of it is actually individual explanation for each of the special buildings in the game and additional background information for the popular buildings and history of Warsaw. The actual rules are only 4 pages long and very streamlined.

One of the great things of this game is that the rules are very simple, easy to explain and easy to understand. However, one of my main concerns about the game is also about the rules, because I didn't like how the milestone conditions can conflict with the simultaneous tile placement.

Gameplay

On each of the 6 epochs, you start with 4 tiles and on each turn you pick one of the tiles and either discard it for 3 money or pay it and place it on your district and pass the remaining tiles to your opponent (just like 7 Wonders). You may either expand the district (limited to a 4x3 grid) or overbuild an old tile by paying the cost difference.

At the end of epoch 3 there's World War I and each player loses a tile of his choice and at the end of epoch 4 there's World War II and then all players lose two tiles.

At the end of each epoch, before income, you check condition of the milestone building and whoever fulfills the condition best, gets the tile. Afterwards you obtain victory points and money from your district:

* One of the park areas gives points for each adjacent residental area according to a table in the player aid
* All of the commercial areas give 1 money for each adjacent residental area
* All of the industrial areas give the money printed on them and you lose 1 point for each residental area which is adjacent to an industrial area
* All of the purple areas give the points printed on them
* Each transport symbol gives 2 points provided that your district has at least 2 transport symbols and if your transport symbols are adjacent, you lose the benefit from all but 1 of the connected symbols
* Special buildings give income according to their text



Example of income: With this kind of district you would gain 7 points from the park (5 adjacent residental areas), 11 money from the 5 commercial areas, 7 money from the indsutrial tiles, 4 points from purple buildings and 6 points from transport symbols. Additionally, you can convert 4 money to 2 points or 2 points to 6 money with Warsaw-Vienna Railway if you wish.

The scoring phase is simple, but offers a very nice optimization problem, because you may want to build various combos and it's not always obvious which tile is the best for maximizing the income on current and future rounds. Rotation of tiles is allowed and overbuilding also offers many interesting choices when drafting tiles. You may also try to deny good tiles from your opponents, but at the same time you want to pick something which is good for your own district.

My thoughts

It's a wonderful game, which offers many interesting decisions and it's to play. Flow of the game is very fast because most actions can be done simultaneously. Thanks to the clear graphical design it's usually easy to see what's happening not only in your own district, but also what the opponents are doing and what kind of engines they are trying to build.

The box suggests that the game can be played in 45-60 minutes and I agree with that. The game can be played in an hour, even with rules explanation. Player count doesn't really affect duration of the game.

There are 5 milestone tiles in the game and each of them has a condition. The tiles are double sided, so there are 32 different combinations, which is nice because the available milestones affect the possible game strategies. However, it would've been very nice if the game had another set of 5 milestones for even more replayability.

I would've also liked to see more milestones which give benefits for players who are doing poorly. Now many of them seem to give benefits for the player who is doing well anyway, but instead they could've been some kind of catch up mechanism if your game doesn't start very well for a reason or another.

Also, the first tiebreaker for the winning condition of milestones is money. Money is quite volatile resource in this game and the condition is especially on the first rounds often tied, which means that quite often it may feel like some of the milestones are handed out quite randomly.

Finally, I'm a bit worried that residental area + commercial area in the same tile on round 1 is a bit too much better than the other tiles regardless of your strategy. Therefore if you're lucky on the first draw, you will get a small advantage. Hopefully I will be proven to be wrong when I play the game more.

Even with all these small shortcomings, Capital is definitely a great game, which I enjoy playing and I recommend it to anybody who's looking for a light-medium weight tile placement game. It's currently my favorite city building game and the Warsaw theme is well integrated. Thank you for making such a nice game, I will be enjoying it for many years to come.

Review in a nutshell

Complexity: Low, game is easy to explain in under 5 minutes.

Luck factor: Quite low, there's a bit of luck involved with tile draws, but the placement requires a lot of skill. Once you know all the tiles in the game, it also reduces the luck factor a bit, because then you can try to plan ahead more.

Interaction: Quite low, players are competing for the same milestones and you may draft a tile which your opponent would want, but there are no other ways of interaction.

Theme: Good, Warsaw theme is well integrated and the rulebook contains a lot of fluff.

Replayability: Good, there are many different milestone combinations and several different strategies to try out.

Overall rating:
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