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City Tycoon

October 13th, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

There’s been a boatload of excellent city-builders as of late…”Cities: Skylines” and “We Built This City“, just to name a few.  I came across “City Tycoon” on Amazon and while the price seemed to be outside my usual buy range ($40 as of 10/6/15), I went ahead and splurged a little hoping that my love of the genre would accept it no matter how good or bad it ended up being.  Like “We Built This City”, players will be laying down tiles and contributing to a city and in the end, the player who does so the most strategically will win.  However, this game features drafting and resource generation (water, electricity, goods, etc.) that make the game a bit more complex than the aforementioned game.


City Tycoon: 2-5 Players, Ages 10+, Average Play Time = 75 Minutes

City Tycoon: 2-5 Players, Ages 10+, Average Play Time = 75 Minutes



The game includes 168 tiles, 85 resource cubes, 130 player markers (26 of each color), a scoreboard, money/coins, and the instructions.

Setup & Gameplay

The four starter city tiles are placed in the center of the table with the appropriate resource cubes being placed on each.  If there are only 2-3 players, then water tiles are added to block off development in particular directions.  The I, II, III, and IV district tiles are placed into their own stacks face-down.  The water and electric plants are placed in separate stacks in order with the 1’s on the top and 6’s on the bottom.  Each player gets a set of 25 markers, with one being placed on the “0” space on the scoreboard.  Another will be used for the player order track, the order of which is random in the first round.  The first player receives $20, the second $22, the third $24, and so on.

The game is played over four rounds.  Each round consists of five phases:

1. Player Order – Determine player order, which is poorest to richest (via their coins).  This phase is skipped on the very first round, as ordering is random.

2. New Tiles – Each player receives six tiles from the current round’s stack (I, II, III, or IV), starting with the I stack.  Each player chooses one to keep and passes the remaining tiles to the next player.  This drafting process continues until players have chosen six tiles.

3. Building – Players take turns building according to player order.  To do this, they choose a tile from their hand and do one of three things: a) build it/place it on the grid, b) discard it to build a water or electric plant from the supply (paying the cost), or c) discard it to earn five coins.  Tiles have varying icons, so it’s important to activate them upon placement when appropriate.

4. Supplying Districts – Players take turns supplying districts according to player order.  On a player’s turn, they choose one of their districts to supply with resources to get the benefit listed on the tile.  If water or electricity is transported through the city or another player’s tiles, then the active player pays two coins per tile to the appropriate party.  Goods do not have a transportation cost.

5. Cleanup – At the end of the first three rounds, all cubes are removed from all districts which were supplied.  Plants with a recycling symbol refill their cubes to their listed value.  Players then prepare for the next round.

At the end of the fourth round, players receive 1 VP for every $10 they have.  Whoever has the most victory points, wins!

Editor’s Note: The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you an idea as to how the game is played.


City Tycoon


The Review

Once I got a handle on the rules, I was able to fully gauge it’s learning curve.  It’s more complicated than “We Built This City“, but less complex than “Sunrise City” and “Suburbia“. This puts it into a position that I can appreciate, especially when I want something simple but not overly so.  Whereas “We Built This City” simplified scoring with a rock-paper-scissors mechanic based on their relative positions on the grid, “City Tycoon” challenges you to pay attention to each tile’s cost, resource requirement, and benefit.  It’s not just important to tile placement, but also when participating in the drafting process.  Don’t let the seventy-five minute play time fool you…”City Tycoon” isn’t really that difficult to play.  A lot of that time is simply reserved for thinking and planning.

Now onto the negatives.  My game arrived in a bit of disarray…the box insert was torn/ripped and some of the pieces were already punched out.  Part of me got the feeling that someone re-wrapped a used copy in plastic and sold it new…either that, or this was a manufacturing issue.  On top of that, there were no baggies to hold all of the tiles and little pieces that came with the game.  I had to resort to using extra baggies I acquired from my “Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game”.  For a game with as many small tokens as it has, it should have come with baggies.  A useful box insert might have been nice too.

The packaging (or lack thereof) was really my only complaint with “City Tycoon”.  The rules were laid out well, the game has a lot of replayability, the artwork is good, and the strategy elements will keep you engaged from start to finish.  Having to supply your tiles with power/water/goods in order to earn something is a nice touch and I like that some tiles give you an option between two different benefits.  It pays to be careful on your tile placement too, as paying to move resources through other players’ tiles will only serve to hurt you in the end.  The game also gives you choices in the plants you put down…one side being a renewable energy/water source while the other burns out after one round.  Lastly, I like how the game gives you more options with tiles you don’t want, like chucking them for a quick buck or the ability to build a power/water plant instead.

This game is worth the $40 I paid, though part of that is because I really enjoy playing games of the city-building genre.  I suppose that makes me a bit biased, but I have yet to see a human being who is not capable of being so despite their best intentions.  After all, our personal experiences and opinions are what makes all press reviews unique…otherwise, you’d just be reading the same thing over and over again.  Who wants that?  Anyway, if you can find a copy of this game (I recommend Amazon, link below) and you enjoy city builders, grab this one.

Final Verdict: 9/10

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