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Subject: Urbania: A brief description of gameplay and review (Now with PICS!) rss

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Patrick Moran
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Hi, all! This game's page is quiet (as of 8/22/12) so I thought I'd add some comments on the game to tide you over until the real reviewers show up.

Overview and set-up:

In Urbania, you'll be collecting cards with different colored hardhat symbols and coins in order to play sets of like-colored cards to renew building spaces to gain victory points or to hire/bribe Specialists. You can also draw and play Project Cards which give you your own secret, unique way of scoring even more victory points at the end of the game.

The main playing area of the board is a 7 X 7 grid of property spaces. At the start of the game, each space will get a property tile placed facedown to show its underdeveloped side. There are 6 red, green, beige, brown, silver-ish, and pink tiles and 7 blue buildings. 5 of the center tiles of the board are then flipped to their renewed side.

The remaining 44 spaces of the board are divided into 4 equal sized sections.

There's also a value track with spaces marked 0 to 8. These spaces are used to track the current value of each building color as well as the current cost of the color's corresponding Specialist.

6 cards picturing the Specialist for each color are placed near the board, and a colored disk for each is placed on the 1 of the value track.

A small cube for each building color (except blue) is placed on the 0 of the track. Every time a building is renewed, the matching cube is advanced one space along the value track. Since we flipped 4 buildings to the renewed side as part of the set up, some of these cubes will be be advanced before play begins.

There's a face-down deck of resource cards with 2-3 symbols on them (a mix of coins and hardhats) each card being a single color corresponding to one of the building colors. Some of the coins and hardhats are rainbow colored indicating that they're wild. Five are placed face up next to the draw deck a' la "Ticket to Ride".

Another smaller deck of Projects (secret goals) are placed near the resource cards.

And, of course there's a victory point track from 0 to 50 (there are cards to be given to the player when they go over 50 or 100 pts).

Gameplay:

On each player's turn, they have to take 2 actions. There are 4 possible actions and they can mix 'n' match the actions in any order.

1. Draw cards: The player can draw any two resource OR project cards. If the first is drawn from the five face up cards, it's refreshed from the draw pile before a second card is drawn. There is no hand limit.

2. Renew a building: Each of the underdeveloped building tiles has a number next to a hardhat icon which indicates how many icons need to be played to renew the building as well as a number indicating how many victory points the player gets for the renewal. All the hardhats played from the player's hand must be the same color of the building (or a wild card). Blue buildings are special in that the icon on their underdeveloped side is rainbow colored which means that any color can be used (as long as they're all the same). Some building has a small icon which lets the player draw a resource card upon renewal.

The renewed building must be orthogonally adjacent to an already renewed building so players have to start at one of the spaces next to the 5 that were renewed during set up. Next, the small cube of the matching color is advanced along the value track (except for blue which has no cube or Specialist).

If you play a card that has both hardhats and coins, you can place the card face-up in front of you to indicate that the coins haven't been spent yet. The coins can later be spent that turn (if you have another action) or on later turns.

3. Hire a Specialist: Pay cards with coin icons of the matching color or wild coins from your hand or from face-up cards in front of you to take a Specialist and place it in front of you (even from another player). The cost of the Specialist is wherever the colored disk is on the value track. Every time a Specialist is hired, the disk is moved up one space so at the start of the game it's 1 coin, then 2 coins if someone hires them from you, 3 coins to hire them back, etc.

Thought they're the same color and they're on the same value track, the disks and cubes track two different things. The disks track the cost of the Specialist and the cubes track the number of buildings of that color that have been renewed.

At the end of your turn, you get victory points for each Specialist that you have in front of you. So if you hire the brown specialist for 1 coin (moving the disk up to 2) and there have been 3 brown buildings renewed up to that point, you'll get 3 victory points.

4. Play a project card: Playing a project card from your hand costs 10% of your current score. Played project cards are placed face-down in front of the player. There's a limit of three per player and once played, they can not be changed.

Good time to explain what on these project cards especially since there's a buttload of points to be gained with them! Some Project cards have a picture of one or two of the Specialists and a number. These are worth the cost of the specialist(s) times that number. So if you have the Project card picturing the brown specialist and "5" and the brown disk is on the 4, the card gives you 20pts. You do NOT have to have the Specialist in front of you to score the points.

Other Project cards have a picture of a building type and a number. You get that many points for every renewed building of that type.

The rest of the cards have a diagram of the board with sections shaded in and a number. Each renewed building in the shaded section gives you that many points.


The last turn is triggered when either three of the Specialists disks reach the value 5 or when 9 of any one the boards four 11 space sections is renewed. Once the trigger occurs and it gets back to the first player who has the First Player token, one final turn is taken.


Final Thoughts:


I really enjoy this game and bought it immediately after finishing the demo at GenCon. It plays in under an hour for four people and there seems to be enough strategizing to keep it interesting and enough randomness in the card draws to keep it from being a mind-burning math game.

There's the agonizing decision of when to play Project cards and which ones: Do you hold off before playing that "All renewed tiles in the upper right score 4pts" to see if people are working their way up there or do you play it very early to avoid the 10% penalty committing yourself to renewing that section yourself? And playing a project with an Specialist can be a gamble too. If no one hires the Specialist, their value will never go up so you may waste turns renewing its color's buildings to increase it's VP bonus to hopefully get a buying war going or do you just accept that that card will only be worth 6pts.

And should you just race around the board trying to hit all the valuable buildings (which range from 4VP to 15VP) and try to win this way?


There are two drawbacks to the game (the first of which was pointed out by just about every player I saw demoing it):

The colors: Each building type is a different shape, but the differences among the gray/metallic/goldish, the beige, and the brown buildings are just not that clear. Each color has its own symbol (dollar sign for the banks, book for the libraries, gears for the industrial etc.) but once the building have been renewed, it's tricky to quickly assess the board to see how many of each type has been renewed and how many are left since the renewed side look even more alike than the underdeveloped side. The "9 of 11 in a section end game trigger" can quickly sneak up on you for this reason.

Bookkeeping: Remembering to advance the cube every time a building is renewed (but not for the blue ones) and not the disk (which are on the same track) isn't rocket surgery, but if one suspects that it was forgotten, it's more time consuming than it should be to recalculate because of the color issue.

I'm thinking that I'll go to GoodWill and see if I can pick up a copy of Monopoly for its houses, paint the houses the various building colors and then place them on the renewed buildings. Maybe even print out a value track like "Eclipse" where numbers are revealed with the removal of a marker when the marker is placed onto the board. Hmmmm...


I gave it an 8 and will be trying to get this game to my table as soon as possible!
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Kevin Shillinglaw
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Re: Urbania: A brief description of gameplay and review
Very nice review/explanation. This game is now on my radar!
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MS-06 Zaku II
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Re: Urbania: A brief description of gameplay and review
Sounds like it is City-building of Ticket To Ride.... am I correct?

Hmm....
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Patrick Moran
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Re: Urbania: A brief description of gameplay and review
ah3Dog wrote:
Sounds like it is City-building of Ticket To Ride.... am I correct?

Hmm....


There are definite similarities: The card draw mechanic, playing matching sets of colored cards to claim a varying amount of points on the board, and secret goals that are scored at the end of the game.

If you removed TtR's penalty for failing to achieve the goals, allowed for the other players' routes to help you in your goals, added "owning stock in a particular color's train so that you get bonuses", and reduced the play time by about 30min, then they'd be REALLY similar!

This might actually be a good sell for Urbania!
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Stephen Slotten
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Re: Urbania: A brief description of gameplay and review
I also bought the game after a demo at Gencon. Great review!
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Brian Brokaw
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Could anyone comment on game duration? Could this be a lunch hour game with 5?
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Stephen Slotten
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brokasaphasia wrote:
Could anyone comment on game duration? Could this be a lunch hour game with 5?


Yes I believe so. I think it will be cutting it close though. Any player suffering from analysis paralysis will make the game go long. If all players know what they're doing and plan their turn while others are playing then this game plays very quickly.
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Donald Dennis
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ah3Dog wrote:
Sounds like it is City-building of Ticket To Ride.... am I correct?

Hmm....


Seems like a cross between that and Lords of Vegas... or not maybe I'm dreaming.
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Kevin Shillinglaw
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Just wanted to update here and say that I've picked up my own copy and I'm very much looking forward to playing it!
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Jake Waltier
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Seems a lot like Blue Moon City, but with color control rather than crystal collecting.
 
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