A fan of new Knizia games
Julian, Tina, Janet, Debbie and Doug tackled this new Gold Sieber/Rio Grande release. The rules were explained by Doug, but not very well as Debbie seized the rulebook and seemed to digest them in about 5 minutes. This was a new game to Debbie, Tina and Julian.
The game opened with the initial sprinkling of businesses and residential areas, with Debbie distinguishing herself by catching us on various rules errors having learned the game five minutes earlier. Julian committed himself and built the City Hall, thus opening the game up to all the special buildings. As Doug was playing immediately before Julian, he was praying that nobody would start the streetcar line up before he did as he had the ideal location for a shopping centre. Nobody did, so Doug started the line abutting one of his planned shopping centre lots. Trouble was, although there was the required business, residence and streetcar placed, there was no special building to allow the shopping centre placement, and the lot cards for those potential sites had been claimed. Doug had to be patient...
The five player game certainly felt chaotic, and the lot draw piles seemed to disappear much too quickly to allow any special planning. Both factories and one park appeared quite early in the game to hinder several players, and it appeared to be very much a case of "get what you could".
Janet eventually placed a Post Office on one of the lots next to Doug's proposed shopping centre, and sure enough it was placed on the very next turn to give Doug the lead. What Doug hadn't noticed was that Debbie was planning exactly the same move, and used Doug's shopping centre as a special building to place a shopping centre of her own, to regain the lead. A couple of turns later, a triple residence by Debbie gave her the game.
Doug's rating: 5 - it doesn't work with five players, too random, too chaotic, minimum planning due to the draw piles disappearing so quickly. Perhaps the trading variant would improve the five player game, so perhaps that should be tried. However, the rating is 7 with four players, and 8 with two or three players. Still one of my favorite games from this year, but not a five player game.