Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Let's get it started... Let's get Kickstarted in here!

I don't care for marketing, and I don't usually shill for products, but I think it's appropriate to make a post about a game that's currently on Kickstarter. It's not a TMG game, but I am developing a different game - Captains of Industry - from the same designer, which TMG is publishing next year.

The game in question is City Hall. I got a chance to play City Hall at BGGcon last week, and while I'd say it's a bit lighter than Captains of Industry, I'd also say it's a great, solid, polished design. I have pledged for a copy, and I would like to see the campaign fund so that I will eventually get it! Here's a little bit about the game:

City Hall is like Goa: On your turn you select an action, and somebody is going to take that action. There is a once-around bid of Influence (one of the games two currencies), and then you may choose to either accept (one of) the highest bid(s), collecting the influence from that player and allowing them to take the action, or you can pay that amount of influence to the bank and take the action yourself.

For starters, let me remind everyone that Goa is a great game, and that this mechanism worked very well in it. But in City Hall it plays out much differently...

Like in Goa, you often want to be selling off the action you choose and collecting Influence, not paying Influence to the bank: that's your income. A player who always chooses the action they want and then pays the bank for it will run into trouble because they will be Influence-poor. However, in City Hall there's no guarantee that another player will choose the action you are interested in - or more importantly, there's no guarantee that the other players will choose actions in the order you want them to happen - so sometimes it's better to choose the action you want after all, and be prepared to pay for it, just to make sure your plans aren't ruined! In some ways this amps up the mechanism from Goa a little bit.

Of course, the rest of the game is nothing like Goa - just that main mechanism. In Goa you're collecting various resources in order to upgrade tracks as efficiently as possible... in City Hall you are trying to garner enough votes to become Mayor by increasing two different tracks: Population and Approval Rating. Your standing on each of those tracks will be multiplied together at the end of the game to determine your score, so it is important to advance both of them.

The way that you advance on those tracks involves buying land spaces and building Houses, Offices, Factories, and Parks. Each of those can gain "stars" based on their location relative to other buildings:

  • Houses like to be next to other Houses, Offices, and Parks, but hate being next to Factories. 
  • Factories like being next to Offices, but don't care about Houses. 
  • Offices like being next to Houses and Parks... etc. 
One of the actions creates a mini-scoring round in which players score Population (increase their marker on the Population track) for "star" majority. The more/better they've contributed to the city, the more population they bring in. Parks are interesting as well because they allow you to advance on the other track, your Approval Rating. The more parks you've built (and the more stuff built next to your parks), the more Approval you gain.

The other way to advance Approval Rating is by paying money during one of the other available actions (Campaigning). Money is used for that purpose, as well as buying land, and there's another action that allows you to exchange Money for Influence and vice versa.

City Hall felt like a tight wrestling match with players fighting to advance on both the Population track and the Approval Rating track. But that's not all there is too it - there are also a handful of bonus rewards, each of which are handed out at the end of the game. These reward things like Most Money, Most Influence, Most Houses on the board, Most Factories, Most Land purchased, things like that. The points available from those are not insignificant, so keeping them in mind is definitely worthwhile.

I really enjoyed my play of City Hall, and I sincerely hope Michael reaches his funding goal on Kickstarter so that I can get my copy and play it some more! So take a look, and even if it's not your thing, consider sharing it with your gaming friends. There's about a week left to pledge, and a long way to the finish line.

1 comment:

Seth Jaffee said...

This project is at about 50% funding and has about 30 hours to go. If you're reading this, then get the word out - there are so few Kickstarter games that really interest me... I'd like to see this one succeed!