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Build to make your view of the city match your aspirations.
Secretly plan the shape of this city from its primary view on your side. Then take turns building it to meet your plan, and/or thwart your opponent. This is a game of correctly anticipating other players' hidden agendas.
A quick family game to play over and over again. It challenges you to achieve your secret goals and second-guess your opponent's actions, as you build competing views of a city.
I encountered this game at Mind Games 2003 hosted by Mensa. This one the seal along with four other games (TransAmerica, Octiles, Blokus, and Fire & Ice. The game has wooden blocks and each person has to make their own buildings from these blocks. They are scored on skylines they make (based on where they are sitting). Simple game and we have played this many times again and again. Its a solid game.
Veterans of the award-winning Manhattan might take a quick look at Cityscape and surmise that it's 'Manhattan-in-wood.' However, this game is quite different.
First, let me say that I concur with Alan How's excellent review from Counter magazine, and particularly his conclusions. I own and love Manhattan and Capitol, and I'm still happy I picked up a copy of Cityscape. Whereas those older cousins add a little mystery to the game through cards, Cityscape does it via hidden victory solutions, thereby keeping the winning conditions and the play options constant throughout the game.
The absence of cards to drive construction frees each player to consider all possibilities, and yet the hidden solutions (the 4 dice) prevent players from deducing optimum moves (which in its worst form can degrade to the ol' analysis paralysis). There's a lot of 'best guess' to this game.
But that isn't to say that there aren't strategies and tactics to be mastered. Studying the oppositions' placement of blocks can reveal patterns that may tip off their solutions, while clever sequencing of one's own blocks may delay opponents' discerning of your solution, and may even lead them to making moves beneficial to one's own strategy.
This ia an excellent strategy game for both families and strategy gamers, and the wooden blocks and fine wooden gameboard make it visually appealing (It attracts the curious, and that's a good thing.)
The 4x4 grid, from your side, offers four rows for buildings. You will only see a building in any row if your view is not blocked by one of equal or greater height. Start by secretly assigning a plan for each row: To see up to four buildings in that row, to see at least two buildings of equal height (side view), or to have the row contain a building at least as tall as any other on the grid.
Each turn, play a building block (in one of five heights) from the supply on a vacant space or atop other blocks. When all are placed, score a row only if your plan for it worked out. Highest score wins. As you'll soon realize, this game is truly devious.
One of the joys of Essen is finding new games that weren't covered on the extensive internet help, as this is now so well coordinated that you can nearly plan your route through the halls. I came across the games from Pin (a company based in Thailand) on my last day at the fair, with money burning a hole in my pocket and a desire to try one more game. The games from Pin are all wooden and so expect to pay heavier postage for these. Pleasingly rules are supplied in English, Spanish, French and German. The first one that I tried is Cityscape, which reminded me of Quarto because of the 4 by 4 wooden grid and the polished wooden pieces that are played on it.
However, this is quite different. Each person gets a wooden rack, Scrabble sized, but enclosed on three sides so that you can fit four small dice in the slot. Each die is placed so you can see one face, and lined up so that it corresponds to a row of the grid. The enclosed rack is made so that your opponents cannot see your dice. With four players, each person will be playing on perpendicular rows to their nearest opponents. There are 25 building blocks (5 in each of 5 heights) that are played on the wooden board -- a solid affair in a light coloured wood to contrast with the darker wood of the building blocks. Each larger block is an exact multiplier of the shortest block, so putting a level 2 block and level 3 block achieves the same height as a level 1 and level 4 block.
The dice indicate the goal that each player is trying to reach. A '1' showing, means that when looking horizontally along the player must be able to see only one building. A '2' indicates that the player wants exactly 2 buildings visible. And so on. A '5' is obviously different as there are only 4 places in each row and this indicates that the player wants to have at least two buildings of the same height, though you do not have to be able to see to them in order to score if a higher building is blocking them. A '6' means that you want the highest (or joint highest) building to be in this row.
Having secretly made their selections for each row, each player plays one of the wooden building blocks on the board. When these have all been placed, the game round is over and scoring takes place by comparing each person's dice with the outcome on the board. Successful 1s to 4s score 10 to 40 points respectively, while successful 5s and 6s score 10 points per building.
The game is light, but enjoyable and players can play a number of rounds or to a pre-set score. There seems to be little control and, in the games I've played so far, an early emphasis on the higher building blocks. People playing for the first time think that it may be nigh on impossible to match a secret goal to the outcome. My experience is the reverse and more often than not the smaller goals can be reached. The clever aspect to the game is when to decide to go for the 3 and 4 point targets as these are the most difficult to achieve, as you need three or four blocks correctly aligned to reach your target. But with each round lasting only 10 minutes or so, the game is over quickly and you are onto another round. Nice bits, pleasant game, pleased I got it.