20th Century is a 2010 title by Czech Games Edition's Vladimír Suchý, the successful designer of titles like Last Will and Shipyard. It features empire building aspects combined with resource management, tile placement, and even auctions. It's been called everything from SimCity to Power Grid meets Carcassonne on steroids, as players must use commerce and science to urbanize their country. But equally important to building an economy is the need for scientific research and ensuring environmental quality by avoiding ecological disasters such as those which can result from excessive garbage or pollution. Are you ready to return to the twentieth century and take on the challenges provided by this solid bidding and building game which deserves more attention than it has received until now?

I've scoured the personal comments and skimmed through some reviews and other articles, and carefully organized some key quotations to bring you the important things you need to know and what other people think about 20th Century. The parts in bold express my own conclusions, which are then expanded upon and substantiated by the citations that follow, to give you a feel of what most people are saying on each point. Perhaps you could call this a kind of "consensus of opinion", somewhat biased because I'm the one who gets to pick the quotes to include, but overall a well-rounded and fairly objective viewpoint. So here you have it, an at-a-glance overview of some of the majority opinions that you need to know about this game.

NB: For more reviews like this, see this list.

1. The basic concept of the game is to develop your city while avoiding pollution.
“A points scoring game in which players try to build a town without generating too much pollution.” - Robert Bracey
“Aim to build a garbage free town.” – Jonathan Badger
“This is a multi-part auction game in which you're bidding on land tiles (which provide resources but also pollution), technology (special abilities, one-shot or ongoing), and disaster avoidance (MAJOR pollution if you fail). Your land tiles give you income to win future auctions as well as points-income, and sometimes recycling to get rid of your pollution. Pollution is worth major negatives at the end of the game, so getting the science resource to win the disaster avoidance auction is key.” - Doug Faust
“Auction game with nice city building.” – Simon Mueller

2. This theme is generally well appreciated and successfully integrated.
“The theme (waste and environmental status) is worked well in to the game.” - Gerard Boom
“Good green theme if you want to feel good playing a game about improving the environment.” – Walt Mulder
“The theme is well integrated in the game. A build-your-economy-kind-of-game with a twist: pollution.” - Hans Christian Kirketerp
“Being a bit of a "greenie", I loved the theme of course.” - Steve Duff
“The theme is strongly pro-ecology with low pollution, garbage recycling and good living conditions being winning strategies.” – Lapsus

3. The main mechanics are tile-laying, auctions, and resource management.
“A challenging game with auction mechanisms, tile placement and resource management.” - Joshua Gottesman
“This is a tile-laying, civ-building-themed, worker-placement game all about auctions.” – snoozefest
“A tile-laying auction game with two currencies: money and science points.” - John Squires
“This game has two things I like - auction & tile laying.” - Mark Applegate
“Really intriguing auction / tile placement game where you balance building cities and industrial zones, while having to get rid of the pollution they create.” - Spin Doctor
“Combines auctions with tile laying to make a really interesting game.” - Brian Moore

4. The primary interaction lies in the auction mechanic, which is the heart of the game.
“I love the auction mechanic for the disasters and think that the whole game works really nicely.” - Lloyd B
“The gameplay is solid, if you like bidding, which is where the interaction lies.” - Jeroen van der Valk
“The auction parts are the main game and there are some hard decisions to make.” - Mikael Ölmestig
“It reminded me of a Wallace game but without the mind bending super trickiness. I liked the tactile and non-combative nature of the interaction.” – Andrew Rae
“Nice, tight auction game. What is actually an intriguing balancing act is disguised as a very simplistic game.” - Neil Cook

5. Resource management is also a very important element of game-play.
“The sort of resource juggling goodness we've come to expect from CGE, with lots of ways to build your city and manage garbage.” - Brian Modreski
“Very clever resource management game! Expand your land and earn resources and VP - while keeping pollution at a minimum.” - Mik Svellov

6. All these mechanics come together very well.
“I can honestly not say why I like this so much. It might be the modern theme with both its good and bad sides, but probably it is more for the game itself.” - Mikael Ölmestig
“Pleasant little mixture of puzzling, auction, and civ building.” - Alex Munger
“Wow, what a pleasant surprise 20th Century was! It combines tile placement, resource management and 2 different types of auctions into one 90 minute game.” - Patrick McNamara
“Combining several different auction mechanics into a tile lying game with some minor civ type elements works fairly well.” - KAS
“One of the best games I've played this year. I like the mash-up feel of the mechanics, tile-laying, bidding, resource management...it all works so well together. The catastrophe auction is an awesome idea well implemented.” - Eric Rampson
“Nothing overly new, but it all comes together very well.” – candoo
“A nice solid euro with variable goals and multiple things to consider. A combination of tile laying, auctions and resource utilisation that I really enjoyed.” – Jackson Pope
“It had some nice elements combining auction, tile laying, and a tiny bit of resource management.” - Gregarius

7. The game-play is quite smooth, despite the initial impression of complexity created by the many elements that make up the game.
“As with the designer's Shipyard, it looks complex, but actually flows smoothly.” - Drew1365
“Nice thematic game that's very heavy on the auctions and valuing what will fit well with what you have and need in your area. It's very easy to follow what's going on here.” - Lindsay Scholle
“There's quite a bit going on here, but the game plays pretty smoothly -- excellent job, for the most part, on board layout and design.” – snoozefest
“While the phases in League of Six felt disjointed and Shipyard was overwrought, 20th Century comes together nicely.” - Joerg Schaefer

8. The successful blend of different elements has led to many favourable comparisons with other popular games.
“Carcassonne on steroids plus some bidding and managing your city and trash.” - Marcin Krupiński
“Bidding mechanic with a kind of Carcassonne building one.” - Roberto Bueno
“Much like Power Grid, only instead of competing on the same map, each player is building their own.” – David Jones
“For me this occupies a similar niche as Power Grid, a game I adore.” - Dave Lartigue
“Power Grid meets Carcassonne and Through The Ages.” - Soren Vejrum
“A good civ-light game. Imagine Carcassonne if you had to auction for the tiles while dealing with technologies and disasters.” - Douglas Damron
“I like the basic premise of the game and the (attempted) mixture of Carcassonne and run-of-the-mill Euro/Economic game.” - Henrik Schunk

9. In true euro style, there are multiple strategic paths to victory.
“The variable scoring methods means that you can't simply find one winning strategy.” – Lloyd B
“Great game with multiple paths to victory.” - Oliver Harrison
“I really liked this game. There are a lot of things to think about and decisions to make. There are different paths to victory.” - Randy Wilburn
“A very pleasant surprise for me, 20th Century is challenging, balanced, quick, fun and allows for numerous winning strategies. ” - Terry Egan
“Variable scoring conditions makes for changes in game play each time.” - Louise McCully

10. The components are also quite satisfactory.
“The components are quite good, the board is cleverly produced with reminders in the right places, and building your land with tiles is something that I always enjoy.” - Jeroen van der Valk
“The artwork is great and rich in details.” - Marcin Krupiński
“Nice solid and crisp components.” - Gerard Boom
“Good components.” – Gary Jackson
“Very nice graphics.” - Jonathan Badger
“The components are quite pretty, although arguably a bit too pretty given the subject matter, but they all work well enough.” - Richard Dewsbery

11. Many consider 20th Century to be one of the better games from 2010, and even somewhat of a pleasant and unexpected surprise.
“My top game of 2010!” - Kris Wolff
“I think this is the most underrated game of the past few years.” - Randy Wilburn
“Last year, in Essen, I passed on this game thinking that it was another typical mixed mechanics euro. After my first play, I think that this is one of the better eurogames from 2010.” - Cristian Cano
“One of those titles that doesn't look like much but surprises when actually applied.” - Quinn Munnerlyn
“Okay, this one flew totally under the radar for me at Essen 2010. Wasn´t even interested at looking at the game, but am I ever glad I played this one.” - candoo
“I don't know where all the negative vibes have come from on this game. It's quite quick and it's quite fun. A pretty good combo to me.” - John Bandettini

12. Some final kudos:
“First played this at BGG con and found it to be super fun.” - Lee Wiegand
“A great game - fast and interactive.” - David G. Cox Esq.
“This is a great game. It’s easy to learn and a challenge to win.” – Jason C
“Bidding, building, economics. Strategic planning: Great!” – Pasvik
“A winner for any one liking euro-optimization and game planning and auctioning.” - candoo

The bottom line: what you need to know

20th Century is an smooth and satisfying bidding game that combines elements of simple resource management with empire building aspects. With its currencies of gold and science, it requires players to perform an interesting balancing act between resources, disasters, and garbage, while exploring multiple paths to victory. While good with 3 or 4 players, it's arguably best with the full complement of 5 players. It has been criticized by some for requiring some bookkeeping and number-crunching, or appearing somewhat ordinary, but most people agree that the combination of elements works well and makes for a very solid and satisfying package with a strong theme.

If you’re looking for a solid medium weight euro, and enjoy mechanics like auctions, tile-laying, and resource management, and find the general idea of a city-building theme appealing, then 20th Century fits the bill pretty well!

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Cyrus Kirby
United States
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An excellent and informative summary! Thank you!
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Adam O'Brien
United States
North Carolina
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Even Cleverer Overtext
Every time someone activates this overtext, it takes a year off my life. Hover often please!
Definitely one of my favorites of 2010.
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A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
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Why aren't you PLAYING a game?
I enjoyed my one play of this game, but it didn't rise to the requested MSRP for the game.
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