It's very hard for me not to bring this to every game day. Super-tense, tons of angst, completely modern.
I'm still not sure that the "Part-Time Contractor" part is a variant, but it takes the vagueness of:
the Suggestions For Better Play section wrote:
A player, when putting in a ROAD section that will also benefit another player's tract, may wish to negotiate with him to induce him to contribute a share of the cost of that section.
...which comes at the end of a set of rules that never mention that the players can exchange money at all, in any context - and takes it to the limit. Players can build for anyone, anywhere, based on whatever cash payment they can negotiate, during their BUILD action. That makes players into contractors and developers at the same time, changes the rhythm of the game completely, doesn't lengthen playtime (adds negotiation, but allows people to build in fewer turns), and creates another path to victory (specializing in contracting.)
I also ditch the stupid initial blind bid, and just allow everyone to draw their initial tracts at random (from a set of homemade chits), paying market value for them.
OK, this part is definitely a variant rule, but I play that tracts that are not zoned for buildings cannot have buildings built on them, ever. I find the normal rule (that you can build anything on an unzoned tract) silly and pointlessly game-lengthening. In that case, why would the market value be higher for a zoned tract than an unzoned one? The fact that a building would be reserved for the zoned tract isn't enough for me; for me, the extra factory, extra apartment building, and the four extra houses are just extras. Call it the "rural density" variant, and buy that incomplete copy.
Also - poker chips.
Highly interactive with a lot for everyone to think about on everyone else's turn - what you can build, how little you can get away with paying for it, and how much you're willing to spend at auction. There's also some good angst in deciding whether to choose to user your build to maximize what profit you can make from other players, rather than what you may personally need for your own tracts. Love it.
Interested in any comments from people who have tried it this way, or reasons that they wouldn't.