Board game roundup: A race to encourage players to build the best city
Cody K. Carlson
The race to build the best city is the theme behind Mad City, a game for one to six players. In the base game, each player draws nine tiles from a bag and places them face down. Using a sand timer, players flip their tiles over and attempt to create a city that is divided into zones — yellow, red and blue, representing residential, industrial and urban zones.
Each zone has its zone icon upon it, sometimes many on each tile. Players attempt to create the largest zones with the greatest number of icons upon them in order to score points. Players also attempt to build the longest road, the feature that often separates the zones. Additionally, the first player who is satisfied with his or her city may claim the wooden tree token that allows the player to score rarer green park zones.
When the sand timer runs out, players consult their player board for scoring instructions, then play more rounds until one player reaches 150 victory points. The standard game differs from the base game in that special scoring tokens are used to score each round, requiring players to be on their toes when constructing their cities.
Mad City is a decent tile placement game, though experienced gamers may find it overly simple. With its fun artwork and engaging real-time play mechanic that can lead to some wonderful competition, younger gamers should really take to it, however.
Mad City plays in about 30 minutes and is recommended for ages 8 and up.
Here I Stand
Here I Stand, from GMT Games, takes its title from the 1521 Diet of Worms, where according to tradition Martin Luther stated defiantly when asked to recant his beliefs, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”
Here I Stand is a grand strategic game that recreates the political, military and religious strife of early 16th century Europe, utilizing a card mechanic similar in many respects to GMT Games' Twilight Struggle and Washington's War. Two to six players take on the roles of France, the Hapsburgs, England, the Papacy, the Protestants and the Ottoman Empire.
The game is driven by the Event cards, and players may play most cards either for their point value or for their unique historical event. The game begins with the Protestant player playing the 95 Theses card, which must be played as an event. When players play event cards for their points, they may use the points to move, build or attack with armies, or they may explore or colonize the New World.
The English player may advance the marital status of Henry VIII. The Protestant player may attempt to translate the Bible into German, while the Papacy player may attempt to build St. Peter's Cathedral. The Protestant and Papacy player may both attempt to spread their influence in Germany by using debaters, special units based upon actual historical figures. Players may also engage in diplomacy where they may make alliances, declare war or make peace.
Here I Stand is undoubtedly a brilliant game that expertly mixes historical events and figures into thrilling play. However, its strengths are also its weaknesses. This is an incredibly complex game. The dense rule book is loaded with exceptions, variations and special rules. Though the game plays in only nine turns, each turn is broken down into several phases, and play can last somewhere in the five- to 10-hour range. Still, those who don't mind the complexity and length will be richly rewarded.
Here I Stand is recommended for ages 12 and up.
Pocket Battles: Confederacy vs. Union
Pocket Battles: Confederacy vs. Union is the latest Pocket Battles game from Z-Man Games. It is a system that has offered such epic battles as Celts vs. Romans, Macedonians vs. Persians and Elves vs. Orcs. This new title takes place during the American Civil War, as each player takes on the role of the armies of the North or the South.
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