Suburbia – where the suburbs met utopia.
Pet Shop Boys “Suburbia” (1986)
Suburbia is essentially Sim City, the board game. I’d heard a few people say that before I had played it, and thought it was said with a slightly dismissive tone. But, wait a minute:
SIM CITY – which is totally awesome! AS A BOARD GAME!! How much cooler could that possibly get?
Lost in the high street, where the dogs run …
My first game was played at our local hostelry, The Village Inn which is, indeed, in the high street (well, main street) and definitely in the suburbs – so thematically, we were right on the money. We were two pretty experienced gamers, an enthusiastic medium experience gamer and a newcomer to designer games. For three of us, this was our first taste of this particular game, so the potential for getting lost was significant, to say the least!
I only wanted something else to do but hang around
Let me say at the outset that the game is a delight. It is pretty straightforward to learn and although we all had a few “So, I can take this tile, and … ?” moments – we were all pretty much up to speed most of the time. The scoring is probably the most complex part of the game, but it is worked in such a clever way that it adds to the interaction between players. So, players may have to decide whether to build an office block in their own suburb, which gains extra points in their own commercial zone; but also enriches the player opposite, with his empire of office supplies stores! But as the game doesn’t require a huge amount of brainpower, there’s plenty left for witty in-game commentary. For example, my own aforementioned suburb which cornered the market in office supplies early in the game, was quickly dubbed “Staple City”.
Mother’s got a hairdo to be done
She says they’re too old for toys
I ended up with a pretty comprehensive victory, but actually, the fun part of the game was not in the winning. Like Sim City, just building up your city, checking off goals and making it a nice place to live is a satisfying – and fun – exercise in itself. It’s like playing Lego – it satisfies that same urge to build, and create. And it is made even more fun with the addition of other players.
Simple fun in a quick and engaging package – and even better than Sim City!