Urbania – Re-development Can Be Fun
“Mayfair Games” has released a new game entitled, “Urbania,” which challenges players to renovate commercial buildings and residential areas in a sprawling metropolis. This is done by not only assigning workers to perform the labor, but also by spending money on specialists who can make things happen even faster.
“Urbania” comes with 49 building tiles, including 13 residential buildings, 60 resource cards, 31 project cards, 6 specialist cards, 8 victory point cards, 4 player-aid cards, as well as various markers, a game board and some very well written rules.
The building value markers, player markers and specialist markers are placed toward the top of the game board and are used to keep track of scoring, building development and specialist usage. Additionally, each player receives 5 resource cards, with the remainder used for the 5-card resource pool and resource draw pile. Players also receive one player-aid card to help remind them of their options on each turn. The project cards are also shuffled and set aside to form a draw pile, while the specialist cards and victory point cards are also kept nearby.
The object of the game is to draw resource cards that will help re-develop the buildings, hire specialists to assist you along the way and select specific projects that will help provide more success (in the form of victory points). When a certain number of buildings have been renovated, or the specialists’ value reaches a high point, the game ends and scores are compared based on victory points earned from building renovations, controlling one or more specialists and successful completion of up to 3 special projects submitted during the game.
On each turn a player has the option to complete 2 of 4 actions, “draw” cards to accumulate needed resources or obtain a project, “renew” by choosing a building to renovate and paying the resources to get it done, “hire” a specialist, or “submit” a special project card, which may payoff at the end of the game, if the projects can be completed. Any of the 4 actions can be done more than once, as long as just 2 actions are performed. The game continues with players alternating turns, until the end phase. After one final turn, players add their special project scores, if any, to the scoring track, and the player with the highest victory point total wins the game.
After playing “Urbania” among our staff, we again arranged a focus group over at the local game store. This time we had 5 players available, which was perfect, since the game was intended for 2-5 players. The players’ ages ranged from 17-25, and there were two young women among the five. Our goal was to play two full games within a 2-hour window, and then get comments from the group.
We took about 15 minutes to explain the game and set things up with the group. We stayed available to answer questions, since we had played the game several times already. The players quickly grasped the basic concepts of “Urbania” and game flow was smooth, with far fewer questions than we expected. We successfully got in two games in just under two hours.
The one common complaint was about the card colors. It was very difficult to distinguish one building color from another, which was critical in matching the right resource card with the right building and building marker. After some confusion during the first game, we suggested that players concentrate on the shape of the building tile (each was different), rather than the colors, especially since the shapes were clearly shown on the resource cards. This helped things as play continued.
Despite the card and tile color complaints, the players really loved the game. They felt “Urbania” was very “current” in its theme, and a nice switch from battling dragons and casting spells. They found the combination of renovation, specialists and projects allowed for some very strategic game play along the way. In the second game in particular, it first appeared that a player had won in a landslide, until the victory points from another player’s 3 special projects were totaled and a new winner declared.
Overall, the staff at Toys Bulletin and the focus group came away very impressed with “Urbania.” This is one of those games that seems to improve every time you play it. New wrinkles and options seemed to pop up out of nowhere when playing subsequent games, and gaining more experience. “Urbania” will clearly make a great addition to your game collection. It is suggested for ages 10 years old and up, retails for $35.00 and can be purchased at Amazon.com.
-- RJ Cullen