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Urban Sprawl Video Review

22 September 2012 6 Comments

 

Urban Sprawl is a game for 2-4 players. Urban Sprawl abstractly models the growth of a town into a thriving city into a teeming metropolis.

Players assume the roles of entrepreneur, tycoon and politician — each helping in the development of a hypothetical “Anywhere, USA.” Wealth and Prestige will be earned and spent throughout the game. Buildings will rise only to later be demolished for better and larger fare.

Throughout the game players will gather valuable Permits. These will result in either a wealthy Investment or the foundation of a new building Contract. Players will strive to become dominant in one or more building Zones in order to acquire beneficial political offices.

All of this eventually leads to the end game – a vibrant metropolis that is revered around the world – when the player with the most Prestige will be crowned the winner.

Game Play:
The grid of streets on the board provides the framework for building the small town. The buildings will be placed within the grid and identified with control markers (wooden cubes) to show each player’s contribution to the growing urban area. Each building’s value is determined by the cumulative Wealth and Prestige values of the block in which is it constructed.

At the start of a player’s turn he may discard one or more Building Permit cards from hand as “Investments,” gaining Wealth in doing so. Next that player gets 6 “Action Points” (APs) with which to spend on any of the the following activities:

• Acquiring new Building Permit cards from those available to choose;
• Constructing new buildings from those currently available;
• Acquiring a “Favor” — a Building Contract that only that player can build.

Each activity carries with it a variable cost in APs, depending on where the chosen card lies on the board.

Once a player has spent his APs it’s time for a quick reset phase in readiness for the next player’s turn. It is during this phase that events can occur, elections can be held for the various political offices, and players receive payouts in Wealth and Prestige. Wealth payouts provide funding for new buildings while Prestige payouts provide victory points.

Generally, players will be trying to build in areas that provide better payouts. Players are also looking to construct more buildings of a particular “zone” – Government, Residential, Industrial or Commercial – in order to help them win an election, as the politicians each confer a special ability to the player holding the office. Many of the buildings also provide a one-time bonus as they are built, and players can benefit from construction in the right neighborhoods.

Throughout the game, the values of the buildings will generally increase as the town grows into a city and then a large metropolis. Neighborhoods that were once valuable can become run down and new city centers spring up as the urban areas sprawl out across the grid.

When the game ends, players will conduct a final scoring of each Prestige row, earn points based on accumulated Wealth, and score bonus points for political offices held — after which the player with the highest Prestige total wins the game.

~  GMT

Joel Eddy
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6 Comments »

  • Geof Gambill said:

    Hi Joel. Nice summation of the game and the balancing act between strategy and tactics. I lke the theme of this one as well. One of the things I like to do is keep the cards of the buildings I’ve built as I play so I can look back and think, “Wow! I built the high school, and a factory and a restraunt, and this apartment complex and the truck stop” etc. it makes the game much less abstract for me and increases my enjoyment quite a bit. My only complaint is thata this should necer be played with two.

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  • Joel Eddy (author) said:

    Never? Bah! My favorite way to play this is with two!

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  • Geof Gambill said:

    No way Joel. The offices can swing until one player holds three or four, and then you have a serious problem.

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  • Joel Eddy (author) said:

    That seems like bad play imo. The whole key is playing for the next office… or the two after that :)

    Also, I had one game where I was down and out most of the late game, and came back to lose by less than 10 points. Likely, I would have one if I had another turn.

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  • Geof Gambill said:

    I hear you Joel, but if your opponent builds a commercial building, lets say, in the most valuable block on the board, you will most likely not be able to unseat that board position until one f the cards letting you place or move a cash/prestige disk comes up. There is also a fifty percent chance they will see and seize that card before you even get a chance at the card, so you may still be out of luck or, worse, have that used to make another of your opponents buildings the most valuable in a category which wll set them up for the next election. Am I missing something here? It’s possible of course :)

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  • Joel Eddy (author) said:

    I have never really seen someone get completely locked out of something like that for a large chunk of the game. That two dollars can definitely hurt, but you can work around most anything easily enough.

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