Product: Urbania is a board game designed by Simone Luciani for 2–5 players, ages 10 and older. Players assume the roles of urban planners redeveloping dilapidated buildings throughout a city on the verge of collapse. The box contains a game board displaying the city, point track, and building and specialists value track; 49 colorful cardboard building markers represent factories, banks, hospitals, businesses, schools, parks and residences; more than 90 resource and project cards; and wooden markers for building and specialist values and player victory points.
Game play: Every turn, players are allowed to perform two actions out of a possible four: Draw resource or project cards, renew (develop) a property, hire specialists, or submit a project. Let's take each of these in turn.
Resource cards are what drive Urbania. Each card is color-coded to match a type of building and specialist (for example, red matches hospitals and the doctor specialist) and has construction helmets, coins or a combination of both on it. Resource cards are used to renew properties and hire specialists. Project cards are goals that give bonuses at the end of the game. It’s a good idea to draw both resource and project cards early on so you have something to work with as the game progresses.
To develop a property, a player chooses a building next to another building that has already been developed and plays one or more resource cards from his hand. The cards have to have a number of construction helmets equal to or greater than the number indicated on the property marker. They also have to be the right color. Every property renewed gives the renewing player victory points. Also, once a player has renewed a property, he moves the matching building value marker (e.g., the green marker for a renewed park) up one on the building value track. This is important when scoring specialists.
There are six specialists: CEO, banker, doctor, local businessman, school superintendent and parks director. To hire a specialist, a player pays from his resource cards a number of coins of the color matching the specialist. For instance, to hire the banker for the first time, it costs one gray coin. Players can hire an unclaimed specialist or hire a specialist away from another player. However, each time a specialist is hired, the matching value token is advanced on the specialist value track, thus making that specialist more expensive to hire. At the end of a player's turn, he scores points for any specialists he controls. The points total matches the current value of the corresponding building values. For example, if a player controls the CEO and banker, and three factories and two banks have been renewed, then the player scores an extra five points at the end of his turn.
Last, players can submit up to three projects, which give them a chance for bonus points at the end of the game.
Urbania's multiple facets require players to continually assess short-term gains versus long-term success, and players can't rely on simply developing properties to win. They must use project cards and specialists, and more often than not, bold play garners the greatest rewards.
Marketing: There is a lot of strategy and thinking involved with Urbania. Although the box says 10 years and up, I think kids 12 and up would probably have a better handle on the finer points. Also, the building markers are small, and younger kids (even at 10) tend to make a mess of things.
Not a game for casual board gamers, Urbania could be a good choice for those who enjoy Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride and are looking for the next game to add to their library. Stock Urbania with other games that promote strategic thinking, such as Lords of Vegas, Aeroplanes, Gangster and Nuns on the Run.
Publisher: Mayfair Games
Stock number: 4124
Availability: Alliance Game Distributors