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City Builder: Ancient World

Designed by Andrei Filip and published by Inside Up Games, City Builder: Ancient World is a versatile tile-laying game where players are trying to earn the points for their individual city tableaus. It's versatile because it can be played as either a competitive or cooperative game for up to four players, as well as a solitaire.

Players always have a hand of three tiles and they are laying one tile each turn with the aim of forming discrete districts. If a completed (closed off) district contains at least two building types and a blank building, then you can take a settler that matches one of the colours of the building type and place it on the blank building. For districts that form the appropriate rectangle shape, you have the option of taking one of the three displayed monument tiles. Each of these has their own special scoring effect but to take one your rectangle will need to incorporate the prerequisite building types.

There's no direct player interaction over your tile-laying in the competitive game but players share boards containing the settlers available for their selection. You can only take a settler from the end of the rows adjacent to you, and you'll want to keep a weather eye on your neighbours' progress along the rows because the settlers are worth more the farther along you are on the row when you take them, and also the row is frozen when the penultimate piece is taken... From our plays at Board's Eye View, scores usually proved to be quite tight, so being able to nab higher scoring settlers can be decisive, along with judicious use of those monument overlays. Tho' the mechanics are very different, the shared boards reminded us of the shared tableaus in Between Two Cities (Stonemaier Games).

City Builder is easy to learn and plays quickly. Tho' we liked the art from Andrew Dorland, our one gripe with the game was that it was often difficult to make out key details on the rather busy tiles. You need to be able to make out all of the buildings and it's crucial that you distinguish the roads that will border all of the districts that you create, whether you're playing competitively, cooperatively or solo. Making out all the details can be quite hard if you're playing in dim light. City Builder: Ancient World then is a game to be enjoyed with bright modern lighting.

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