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Subject: City of Iron: Why does it shine? rss

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Joel Hansen
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10 years ago, I becoming addicted to scouring boardgamegeek.com, acquiring, teaching and playing games.
Sadly, I think these are in order of the amount of time I spend on those activities.

And I am blessed to have a friend, neighbor and co-worker who buys literally almost every game that I might want to own.
The exceptions are games that take longer than 2 hours, or that I have diy pnp'd.

So, my collection has become made up of those games and the few that are such bright shining games that I must own a copy for my own family.
This includes games like Ticket to Ride, Race for the Galaxy, Dominion, Heroscape, Tichu, Small World, and Keyflower.

City of Iron joined these ranks during the last six months.

Why does it shine so brightly?

A. It rewards long term planning and tactical flexibility.

You definitely build toward long term goals in this game. Whether it is because of your unique powers or because you want to try something different this time, you need to have a plan in your head so that you optimize your actions. Then cards come up, or other players do something that surprises you or take options away from you and you have to adjust your plans.

Similar to one of my favorite games, Race for the Galaxy, there is clearly a planning phase and an action phase. City of Iron is definitely less random during the planning phase, because all the cards are out in the card row during this planning phase.

It is a great moment when players simultaneously reveal which military or citizen cards they are going to purchase, and you know whether some or all of your plans will be possible, or whether you should pay out to try to get the turn order you need to ensure you have a good round.



B. It plays well with three.

Many people have said it before me, but I will say it again. Three player games need to have a special kind of balance. It is important that I do not have to let one player catch up to me while I spend my energy competing the leader. City of Iron is not the kind of game where the "conflict" hurts the players so much that the third player who is not in conflict sails to victory.

The only way to sail to victory in this tight economic game would be to play against other players who allow you to dominate all of the market tracks, thus having a great income, and getting more victory points at the same time. It is up to each player to consider how to carve out a good sized-portion of income and victory points those markets offer.

C. It scratches the civilization building itch.

I'm not sure whether it helps others to weigh in on a topic that many others have talked about, but for me, owning this game means I don't need to buy Through the Ages. I will still play through the ages once or twice a year, but it is longer, and more confrontational, and longer.

The confrontation in this game is strong, but not painful. You are competing for buildings in the card-row. You are hoping to explore or conquer areas before others do. You can even capture towns the other players have already conquered. Compared with the Wars in Through the Ages, stealing potential future victory points is not nearly as painful as actually taking them off of the score-track.

It scratches the civ-building itch not just in comparison to Through the Ages. Just like at the end of many good Euros, you look down at the area in front of you with a bit of pride over what you put together. You explored new territories or conquered well defended towns, and cornered the market on certain resources. You feel like you accomplished something.

D. City of Iron is beautiful.

I just spent a weekend playing games with 60 people, and thought there were some great games being played there, City of Iron drew such great compliments from people. Just looking at it on the table made people want to sit down and play it. There were some other beautiful games being played. Legends of Andor, Eight Minute Empire Legends, Neolithic Ops, and even Animal Upon Animal drew people because of their aesthetic appeal.

But the landscapes are gorgeous. I can't think of another game that has icons that are this visually stunning. The Crystals and Srika and Silk and Salt etc all have different colors to be sure, but it feels disrespectful to call them icons. They are paintings that just happen to be effective as icons.



E. It passes the wife test.

After falling head-over heels for the game and backing the expansion kickstarter to get a copy, I was nervous. What if my wife doesn't like it?

It passed the wife test. After a learning game with some friends at a gamer's retreat, she asked to play it again.
Then, she won on her second play by one point(It was our first two-player game).

City of Iron gets two thumbs up from both me and my lifelong gaming partner!



F. It keeps getting played.

I started off the review talking about it rising to the top of the games in our collections. My good friend and I experienced something that is similar to what has happened with other classics for us. IT became the game of an era.

When we buy games, we want to find ones that will get played the way Settlers got played in 2001 for us. The games in my collection that have close to that much play are Ticket to Ride, Race for the Galaxy (because I forced my friends to play enough to learn the iconography), Power Grid, Glory to Rome, Sleuth, Mu, 7 Wonders, Dominion,
and now City of Iron.

When we finished our first learning game, we not only thought, "I'd really like to play that again." We did play it again. and again.

I have yet to teach a single person whose response was, "Meh, I've played a lot of games. It was fine."

The response has universally been "Wow!"


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Grant Holzhauer
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Building the perfect game collection for our growing family
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Who knew Euro games could be thematic?
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I got this one yesterday, set it up, and taught my wife how to play. I'm hoping we have the time/energy to dive in tonight. I can say, though, that she told me she's excited to play.
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Joel Hansen
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It might seem silly that I had to check. But I just checked. This is my first review. I don't know why it took me so long.
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Simon Quinn
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Great review - this is one of my favourite (and most eye-catching) Euros
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