Cory Suter
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Orlando
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Stop reading: Go Kickstart. (Or just plain buy it if the game is in stores)

City of Iron is a joy to play--Well rounded, deep, and a crazy amalgamation of a ton of game play genres. I was lucky enough to be selected as a play tester for City of Iron and my honest thoughts are as follows:

I will spare the back story of the game and say only that you compete as one of Four different city-states, each with their own talents, to explore and pioneer your way to be the envy of all economic powerhouses. You can focus on military strength, resource diversification, and exploration, all geared towards giving you the income necessary to build your workforce to ultimately load up your city.

How does the game work? Well if you took deck building, auctions/bidding, resource management, actions on cards and tossed them into a salad, you would have City of Iron. And a side salad.

Everyone starts with roughly the same two decks--One citizen, one military. You start with one card in your hand, but more will come through your actions.

Everyone gets a list of actions that they can choose from to do one of on their turn (Draw, play a card, tax for a coin, attack, build, store a building, etc.) Do this three times and it is the end of a round. When this comes, you get income, discard certain unused cards (designated on the board), buy new cards to add to your hand/deck, and score if applicable (more on that in a second). Your towns only have so much space so you have to explore the world around you in order to keep growing. Places like The Isle of Worms and the Edge of the World make you want to set off for adventure.

The actions during your turns in the round are the basis of the game. You have to plan your 3 turns, sometimes up to 6, in order to be efficient and affective. Don't be surprised if someone takes your top build choice. Which leads me to the auction/bidding. At the beginning of a round, the people who went last during the last round get to bid first. If you really want the crystals in the last round, bid your dough to go first. Sometimes it is advantageous to go last (especially for military reasons) and the game is cleverly designed to let you bid to go last as well.

So card management, bidding, deck building---What else? How about resource management?! OK! The game is built around an absolutely gorgeous board (prototype at least). Buy some buildings to get the resources (or take over a town with military), and you get resources. As you add more and different types, the players are competing to have the most. Everything from turnips, to Banthas, to demons in a bottle are used to get income in between rounds and Victory points during scoring rounds. Have the 1st or 2nd most, and you get points. The harder it is to get the good, the more points. As if income alone wasn't enough, you also get to manage science tokens, which are used to build buildings and buy different cards for your deck. However, only the resource tracks matter for points.

Which leads me to the scoring rounds. They come every couple of rounds and signal that more expensive buildings are coming. They also provide a nice science for everyone at the end of scoring too. After the third round, you score a few additional items like most distance traveled, most buildings built, most cards bought, most towns conquered, etc. It really adds that last bit of competition over everything that you do.

If all of this "management" scares you, you frighten easy. The game is ABSOLUTELY intuitive after reading the rules. About one scoring round worth of play and you can back up and play a whole game with no problems. The rule book is very well written (and I think it will have all sorts of examples and maybe a player aid sheet). I cannot speak to the final copy, but this game can be played by anyone, not just table gamers.

So how does the game look? Three words: Ooo La La! The style is very must like Empires of the Void--A watercolor pencil art style. It works so well and draws the player into the theme even more than the game play already does. And here is the kicker - I got a play test copy with unfinished art. I cannot wait to see more and it really makes the game look more like a City of Gold.

Is it perfect? No, but what game is? After a few plays I got a little board just buying buildings. My first military play was a total loser (luckily some rule changes were made and I figured the game out a little more). I also downplayed the role of science (Here is a tip: Get some). The strategy and depth of this game was staring at my dense face the entire time. Being able to chain your turns and have the foresight to plan ahead while being flexible is key. It actually adds to the enjoyment of the game. The theme is so engrossing that I wanted to play like an Ameritrash game, but once I started planning, the game opened up.

The last "problem" is that experienced players have a small leg up on newbies due to knowing how long rounds last and what cards may come up to build. One play through though and anyone will get the hang of it. Heck, one play through and they will beg to play again!

This game is a keeper. Ryan and Red Raven Games have a lot of good stuff coming from their brains and you would be remiss in not getting this game.

Overall, this play testing experience was one of a kind and I was honored to give my thoughts. Thanks to Ryan, Red Raven Games, and of course, the Hogmen for providing me with a ton of conquered towns.
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Wyckyd
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Thanks for the review. I was just wondering how long your average game lasted. The kickstarter page says 90 minutes, but BGG has it at 120. Which one comes closer?
 
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Cory Suter
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I knew I forgot something!

The official word is about 1/2 hour per Player. An experienced group is about 20 to 30 per player. Our two player games were about 45 mins to an hour depending on analysis paralysis. As a side note AP can happen in this game but it isn't anything that other games would normally have.
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