- Publisher: Bézier Games
- Designers: Ted Alspach
- Artists: Klemens Franz, Ollin Timm
- Players: 1-4
- Ages: 8+
- Playing Time: 90 min.
- Languages: English
- MSRP $29.99
- Reviewed by: Mary Dimercurio Prasad
- Game Played: Review Copy
- Number of Plays: 1 x 4 player, 1 x 2 player, also played it as a prototype with 5 players
Your borough has decided that it’s time to incorporate: What does that mean for you, as the city planner? Well, a lot more paperwork, that’s for sure, but it also gives you great new possibilities for your little town: Define borders that are unique and provide you with all new benefits. Build more than a dozen new, powerful buildings to optimize your income and reputation. Take advantage of new Bonuses (to increase your income) and Challenges (to boost your reputation) by achieving mid-game goals. (From the rulebook.)
Note: Since this is an expansion to Suburbia, familiarity with the base game is assumed.
This new expansion by the original designer of Suburbia adds four new components: Border tiles, new building tiles (10 new A tiles, 10-B, and 6-C), new goals, and bonuses and challenges. Because of these additions, a new “Stacks Board” has also been added, with some changes to the starting setups. The number of tiles in the A, B, and C stacks have been slightly adjusted from the base game setup, plus a Bonus tile will be added face up to the B stack and a Challenge tile will be added face up to the C stack.
There are ten Bonus tiles, of which only one will be used per game. The Bonus tile (randomly selected) is on display at the top of the B stack so players may plan accordingly before it takes effect. As soon as the A stack has run out and the first tile from the B stack is needed, the Bonus tile activates. Bonus tiles give 2 to 4 income to each player who meets the criteria on the tile. Examples: if a player has at least two lakes he gets +3 income, or if a player has at least three residential tiles (green) then she gets +4 income.
There are also ten Challenge tiles. They work the same as Bonus tiles except one is on display at the top of the C stack and takes effect when the first tile from the C stack is needed. Challenge tiles provide 2 to 4 reputation to each player who meets the criteria on the tile. Examples: if a player has at least $45 she gets +3 reputation, or if a player has at least 2 Border tiles he gets +4 reputation.
Five new Goal tiles have been added to the game, to be mixed in with the goals from the base game. For example, if a player has the fewest face up border tiles, he gets +10 population (victory points), or if a player has the most Office tiles (i.e. tiles with briefcase icons on them) then she gets +15 population.
Twelve Border tiles have been added. Three will be available (face up) to players at any one time during the game. Similar to taking a Basic tile, if you build a Border tile on your turn, you must discard a tile from the Real Estate Market at the end of your turn in the usual way. The Border tiles are zigzagged on top to fit around four hexes in a row (the other sides are just straight; no hexes can be added to those sides). The backside of the Border tiles is a lake tile. It works like the hex versions but gives $4 (rather than $2) per adjacent non-lake hex. Border tiles range in price from $6 to $18. Examples: +2 reputation (a one time bump when placed) as well as +2 income for each adjacent yellow or green hex tile, or +1 income when placed as well as +5 population for each adjacent gray hex tile. Investment Markers (doublers) may be places on Border tiles.
There are also a couple rule additions for the Dale the Bot variant.
For the full rules, see the files section for Suburbia Inc at Board Game Geek.
Overall, I liked the new additions a lot. At times I wish I could rip the Border tile into something I could use more effectively but that’s probably due to my lack of foresight (next game!). The new Redistricting Office building tile is pretty awesome – although it can be somewhat costly. It costs $6 per player (including you) but allows you to take 5 population from every other player (reducing theirs by 5 and increasing yours by 5 for each opponent). I managed to use my Investment Marker on it during the last round of my 4-player game – such joy was never seen from my fellow players! Well, at least I was joyful.
If you plan appropriately, the new Border tiles can really give you a boost. Watch out for the Radioactive Waste Site though – it’s a population killer (-7 population for anything placed next to it), but it’s an extra 5 income! Just be sure to build it on the outskirts of town where it will do the least damage.
The new Bonus/Challenge tiles basically give players another two in-game goals to meet and benefit from. There’s no majority either – all players who meet the criteria reap the benefits! Yay!
Suburbia Inc works very well with the base game, nicely enhancing game play. The production is high quality (as is the original). The rules are straightforward and very well written. Every question we had was answered without even once having to visit to the ‘Geek. About the only thing I don’t like about the game is its fiddly-ness (really the same as the base game) – for example, having to count up and figure out all the tile interactions can be a bit tedious. Or maybe I should say Ted-ious! HA!
Opinions from other Opinionated Gamers:
Matt Carlson: I played with the expansion before truly playing the original game. After spending time with the base game on my iPad, I’m hoping to be able to play with some of the ideas found in the expansion. The bonus/challenge tiles will give a bit of a new twist (and perhaps more importantly, force players to compete over specific resources – making a more interactive game) but I really just like how the border tiles add some challenging forward planning elements. They give yet another, yet still familiar, strategy option for the game. The variability in the different bonus/challenge/border tiles also require slightly different strategies in every game.
Mark Jackson: I need to make some things clear before I write out my thoughts:
- I was a playtester for both the base game & the expansion.
- I received a review copy of the expansion (but not the base game – whassup with that, Alspach?!)
- I’ve played the production copy of the expansion 6 times.
The first commandment of a good expansion is “Do No Harm.” (Hmm, not unlike the Hippocratic Oath that our grand poobah, Dr. Yu, took lo those many years ago.) It should not mess up a perfectly good game by making it too fiddly, too long or too difficult to explain.
By these measures, Suburbia Inc. is a rousing success. It builds on the mechanics of the original game in creative ways (Borders, some of the new tile powers) and offers some new mid-game bonuses that can steer the game in interesting directions.
Possibly the nicest side benefit to the expansion is how it adds more goals to the mix… which makes it less likely for exact opposite goals (example: “most lakes” and “fewest lakes”) to be present in the same game.
A more intentional element of the design is how borders, rewards & challenges are all helpful… but not essential. You can win without doing any of them – depending, of course, on what your fellow players are doing.
Ratings Summary from the Opinionated Gamers:
I love it! Mark Jackson, Craig Massey
I like it: Mary Prasad, John P
Not for me…