Updated: Oct 24, 2020
In Slyville, players are collecting goods and trading them in to fulfil contracts that are worth varying numbers of 'Influence Points' (ie: victory points). The winner is the first player to secure 100 points worth of deals. The game take 3–5 players, although, curiously, only four of the five guild characters are shown on the box cover.
Each round, players collect a resource for free in any district in which their henchman is in position. They also play cards (face down) to districts to bid to buy that district's goods; at the end of each round, the player with the highest cumulative value of cards in each district wins that district's goods. Cards can also be played to fulfil the big or small contract displayed on the topmost tile in a district.
If this all sounds quite genteel, think again. Slyville isn't a sedate trading game; it's a cutthroat competition where you will be playing cards to bump each other's henchmen, outbid your rivals in the blind auctions, and snatch the deal tiles by fulfilling the contract just ahead of an opponent. Every player has in their arsenal a Sabotage card that can be used to remove any card from the location at which it is played; so you will almost certainly find occasions when opponents use one of their card plays to screw you over and frustrate your carefully laid plans.
Timing is everything in Slyville so you need to be conscious of the order in which district cards will be resolved in that round. There's no point placing a card out in a district for which you want to claim a contract if that district resolves before the district at which you hope to gain goods needed to complete the deal.
To throw a further spanner in most player's plans, in each round one player will be the 'Prince's Favourite'. As such, they will have the advantage of prior knowledge of the random 'Prince's Decree' (event card) that will negate a specified type of card at the district in which it is placed. This offers ample scope for bluff, deceit and feints, so that part of the skill in Slyville is in securing the best advantage when it's your turn to benefit from privileged information. The Prince's Favourite is also given the power to resolve ties. These can occur quite often in the game (for example, two or more players bidding the same amount or placing Sabotage cards in the same district). Players can cajole the Prince's Favourite to try to persuade them to rule in their favour but they cannot give them goods to bribe them. Late in the game, this can result in the Prince's Favourite proving to be the kingmaker (ie: choosing the game's winner). It was the one element that some of our review team felt was overpowered.
We've had great fun playing the prototype of Slyville shown here on Board's Eye View. It plays quickly, so that, even with the full complement of five players, you can expect to complete a game in less than an hour. Slyville is designed by Dominika Gerasimiak, Justyna Leszczynska, Marek Daniluk and Meteusz Romach, with art by Tomasz Larek and Przemyslaw Gul. Hexy Studio is due to publish the game later this year, so watch this space. It's not up there yet but you'll soon be able to pre-order the game from their website at https://hexy.store. They'll be demoing and selling it at Internationale Spieltage SPIEL (Essen) in October.