Tabletop Tuesday: Suburbia

Today’s board game is another favourite among my friends and family: Suburbia. Designed by Ted Alspach and published by Bezier Games, Suburbia is a medium weight tile placement game for 1 to 4 players with a city building theme. 

I’ve never tried it solo, but Suburbia works well with 2 to 4 players, and everyone we’ve played with has wanted to play it again. It’s a game that is relatively simple to learn, but winning requires a fair amount of planning and those plans can – intentionally or unintentionally – be upset by the other players. 

Suburbia Player Board

Photograph by Abigail Holden.

How it works

Although Suburbia includes quite a lot of game pieces, the instructions are clear and the tiles are well-designed and easy to identify, so set up is not as daunting as it could be. The goal of the game is to develop a town that generates a profit, which in turn will allow you to expand and attract more people than the other players’ towns. 

You’ll build up your town by purchasing and placing hex-shaped tiles of different types: residential, commercial, industrial, and civic. On your turn, you’ll usually purchase a tile from the central real estate market and place it in your town immediately. Costs of tiles vary by how powerful it is, as well as its position in the market. Tiles shift after one is purchased, reducing their price for the next player. 

Strategic city planning

Careful selection and clever placement of your tiles is usually a recipe for success in Suburbia. Most tiles interact with other tiles in some way, whether it’s a negative modifier because you placed a noisy freeway next to a retirement village, or a positive modifier from adding a school to your town. Effects can be based on adjacent tiles, or simply by having certain types of tiles somewhere in your town, or they can even be affected by tiles your opponents have in their towns. 

While all this may seem overwhelming, the tiles are generally very clear and use easily identifiable icons that make it relatively easy to calculate all the effects of placing a tile. 

Suburbia Market

Photograph by Abigail Holden.

Aside from increasing your population through tile placement (you don’t want to grow too quickly, however, as this puts a strain on your resources and actually decreases your profits), there are several public goals and your one private goal to work towards. These goals include things like having the most industrial tiles in your town, or the lowest income at the end of the game. Completing these goals gives a significant population boost at the end of the game, so working towards one or more of these, or perhaps attempting to prevent someone else from claiming a goal, is an important strategy to consider. 

Conclusion

Not two games of Suburbia are the same, as there are more tiles than are needed for a single game. This also means that a strategy that worked well in one game may not work in the next. The game looks good, with simple but attractive art and clear icons and text. Easy to learn but just complex enough to keep things interesting, Suburbia is a game that is sure to please. 

Need more Suburbia? 

Suburbia has two expansions, 5★, which adds an option for a fifth player, as well as more tiles, and Suburbia Inc., which adds new tiles and challenges for players. And if you really love the game, a rather magnificent collector’s edition was Kickstarted earlier this year and should be available at retail towards the end of the year. 

Gamer, geek, LEGO fanatic. I also love Pathfinder RPG, The Sims, cross stitching, crochet, and sci-fi and fantasy movies, games & books. And animals.

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