What’s it about?
‘La Citta’ is about building cities and migration of citizens. It’s played in 6 years (rounds) in which cities are build, expanded and citizens migrate. After 6 years, the leader is defined by points, mostly earned by the amount of citizens in your cities at that point.
How does it work?
‘La Citta’ is played on a large customizable board with triangles (showing the environment) and hexes (being the possible locations of cities and city expansions). All triangles are placed on the board and every player places 2 starting cities on the board. Furthermore every player receives an amount of gold coins.
The game itself is played in 6 years (rounds). Each year consists of 8 phases. The first four phases are a preparation for the main phase 5. The ‘start player’ marker is passed, income is generated, extra citizens are placed in the cities and the ‘Voice of the people’-cards (more on that later) are turned.
The actual game is in phase 5 where each player will do 5 actions. This can go from the construction of buildings (thus expanding your city and generating more influence in one or two areas), over the foundation of a new city to the playing of special action cards.
All this is judged in the final phases. In phase 6 the ‘Voice of the people’ cards are revealed. These cards show which of the three areas (health, culture, education) will be used to determine citizen migration. Every two cities, two or less hexes apart, are subject to citizen migration. The city with the most influence (i.e. with the most ‘arcs’ of the applicable area on the buildings), receives a citizen from the other player.
In the final phase, it is verified that all citizens, including the ones that just migrated, can be fed. This is verified using the farms, built in the cities. If your citizens can not be fed, you not only lose the citizens, but also the buildings they occupy. You will also have one less action to take in the next year.
At the end of the sixth year, points are awarded for citizens and cities with buildings for each of the three influence areas. Points can be lost if you were unable to feed all citizens in the last round. Winner is (s)he who has the most points.
Where is the fun?
‘La Citta’ appears to be a difficult game when you go through the rules but once you start to play it, it is fairly simple. However, this can not be said of the tactics involved in the game. Like every euro-game, there is so much to do in so little time. Also, as the game progresses, the board gets crowded and more and more cities are competing which each other. Mostly it is bad to lose citizens to other cities but sometimes it can be interesting since a city of your opponent can receive so many citizens, that he will be unable to feed them.
The game is on a constant balance. Expansion means more power in the influence areas, but also that you need more citizens to occupy the buildings thus more farms and more possibilities for conflict with other cities.
A minor flaw, or better ‘unpleasantness’ can be found in the ‘Voice of the people’ cards. Four cards are drawn of which one card is revealed. Since the migration of citizens is heavily dependant on these three remaining concealed cards, you need to either gamble for what the outcome will be or use one of the special action cards to have a peek at two or three cards.
The other problem I had with the game is that if citizens are lost and buildings become unoccupied, these buildings are lost, making the city weaker and even more vulnerable to citizen migration in the next turn. Perhaps realistic but not always pleasant.
Why should I like this?
- Heavy euro-game
- Lots of player interaction
- Nice looking components
- Great mechanism allowing for a lot of different tactics
Why shouldn’t I like this?
- This game can be a brain-burner
- Luck-dependency of the ‘Voice of the people’
- Aggressive game play
- Difficult to catch up when a city is losing citizens.
‘La Citta’ is a great game with lots of interaction and lots of possibilities. The game play can be aggressive since your main goal is to steal citizens from other players. If you are a fan of games like ‘Euphrat & Tigris’ and ‘El Grande’, I would consider purchasing ‘La Citta’ (Although it does not reach the high levels of both mentioned games) but still would recommend to play it before you buy it. Stay clear of it if you are looking for a lighter game.