I’ve had this game for quite some time now, and it always amazes me how addicted I get after pulling it out and playing again. One game turns into two, two games turn into five; and before I know it, it’s 3:00 in the morning, and I still want to play more.
Suburbia by Biezer Games is one of those games that makes me giddy as a gamer… and jealous as a game designer. It’s the perfect match-up of theme and mechanics. In terms of theme, who can resist a city-building game that manages to feel enough like the old Sim City computer games, AND puts you in competition with your friends? The components are top-notch. The artwork is great. Even small details like the roads on the tiles lining up perfectly to form “city blocks” show how much love and attention went into this game.
In terms of mechanics, there’s one word that best describes this game: tight. The economy is insanely well-designed; it’s no surprise Suburbia was a Mensa select winner.
Essentially, you purchase properties (hex tiles) to build a city. Different tiles confer different bonuses to your city’s economic engine – which has two somewhat opposing poles: Income, and Reputation. Income gives you more money each turn (which lets you buy better tiles). Reputation increases your city’s population (which is how you win the game – your “population” is the victory points in Suburbia). However, grow too quickly in population, and you’ll be docked a point of Income and Reputation – slowing down your growth and your buying power.
But it doesn’t just have great mechanics for mechanics’ sake. They play well with the theme, too. For example, if you build a factory next to some suburbs, your Reputation will go down. After all, people don’t much care for living next to a smelly industrial zone.
The game’s sliding “market” is another perfect example of theme-mechanic symbiosis. It’s a pretty good representation of a sliding real estate economy, and it also serves to weigh your choice as a player. Basically, the longer a property is available to buy, the cheaper it gets. Whereas, the first time a tile is flipped over and available to purchase, you’ve got to pay a premium. “Which property do I buy?” isn’t so simple when you have to consider paying an extra 10 coins – and you also have to consider that when it comes around to your opponent’s turn, that same property will be significantly cheaper. It’s as much a game of building the best city as it is preventing your opponents from building their best city.
Throw in the expansions, and Suburbia has tremendous replay value. I’d recommend getting Suburbia, Inc. first, and then adding in Suburbia Five-Stars if you want even more. Like I said, it doesn’t take long to form an addiction to the game. Suburbia always has a way of sneaking back into my regular rotation.
Until next time, gang. Keep it plucky,