Review – Cities Skylines Boardgame

It takes a village... or a city

Courtesy of the folks at publishers Kosmos Games, today I’m taking a look over Cities Skylines, the Board Game. After reviewing and very much enjoying the video game version of Cities back in 2017, I was really looking forward to passing over this physical edition, and it’s not let me down. If it’s something you like the look of, you can find a stockist with the help of Kosmos themselves, by heading over here

Different layouts provide different challenges. Create your own variation to mix things up a little

The Basics

  • Players: 1 – 4
  • Age: 10+
  • Play Time: 40 – 70 minutes
  • Style: Cooperative / Card / Token

The board game version of Cities Skylines Is a cooperative title, where you’ll work with up to three friends, or on your own, to build a thriving and above all happy city. Moving forward as one, you’ll look to build and balance your city, using the cards in your hand to build residential, commercial and industrial zones, as well as utilities and unique buildings.

With policies and benefits to balance items such as power, water, pollution, employment, pollution, traffic and crime. Above all, you’ll need to manage cash flow and citizen happiness as you move forward through various milestones, and unlocking more of each city landscape as you go.

Managing your available space early on is vital to your continued success, and you’ll need to ensure you have space to enable neighborhoods to reap the benefits which come from fire and police stations, parks and forestry and such. There’s only one city treasury shared between the players, and it’s a title which demands close and supportive gameplay overseen by the turns active player as indicated by the social media Skylines favourite, Chirper.

Zoning will be familar to anybody who’s playedits digital counterpart

This can be a fairly fast moving title, and within the first round I found things were already speeding up. The title doesn’t have convoluted mechanics, meaning that even for complete board gaming beginners it’s fairly easy to get to grips with. Players will have to spend a little time pondering on the strategy for their next moves, and as a collaborative game, talking through decisions with other players is vital. With one shared pool of resources and only the one city to build on you truly do all win or lose together.

Parent’s Eye View

Of course, as a board game instead of on consoles, this version of Cities Skylines won’t have an official age rating. While there’s no PEGI or ESRB legal requirement, the game advertises itself for children 10 and above. There’s no content in here which I find troublesome, and the age rating here simply comes down to learning a comprehensive rule set, which may not be suitable for younger players. As there’s no troubling content this is one which I’d rate as family fun, but would warn that there’s a lot of reading involved, and patience required for a game which may last one and a half hours.

On a side note, difficulty may be something that adults may worry about too. Not all board games are easy to get into, and some rule sets can be complex and confusing. Luckily, this is no Twilight Imperium, and Cities Skylines comes with an easy to follow rulebook, with instructions I’d picked up before my first run through. Going further, Kosmos Games helper app takes you on a step by step video walkthrough, providing explanations for each game step. This style of tutorials are always a pleasure to see and with the free app available for Apple and Android devices most people will be able to get in touch with it.

As well as utility buildings, Policy cards can greatly affect the mood of your city. You’ll need cash reserves in order to enact them though!

The Run Down

Visuals – Great: The printed tokens, boards and cards all feature well made visuals, with high quality printing. The title features a lot of recognisable elements from the game. Whether it’s Chirper the tweeting player token, or the various icons for pollution, rubbish and so on over on the administration board. As a fan of the video game version here, it’s really tied the two together nicely.

Build – Great: The game tokens and boards are sturdy, and the upstanding Skyline model feels nice and solid when put together. Card quality is good, and the whole set feels well put together. You’ll spend a fair amount of time before your first game popping tokens and it’s oen where I didn’t have much concern about tearing, and no concerns on bending as I did.

Storage – Good: The box itself feels solid, and there’s plenty of room inside to fit all of the game pieces without worrying about squishing anything. Kosmos also provide a number of poly bags for tokens and cards after popping them from the initial housing. The box itself is a square 30cm by 30cm outer which sits at 7cm deep. The normalised square profile and relatively small size means that it should fit into most gaming nooks. There’s enough space in the box that I feel this could have been shrunk down quite a bit more, making for easier overall storage.

Tokens are well crafted, both in terms of printing and weight

Replay – Great: This is a great one even if you’re just looking to kill an hour on your own. After testing both with group and solo play, I’ve really enjoyed both, and don’t feel that playing on your own loses too much. There is a decent selection of little game boards, and enough rule variations to keep things fresh if they start feeling a little stale.

Overall the Pixel Bandits City Happiness Level for Cities Skylines the Board Game is Grab It. This is a wonderfully put together game in its own right. With its links to the video game, they’ve made sure to make it simple enough to non-board gamers, but there’s a great amount of strategy in this one as well. While competitive is great, I am a big fan of collaborative gameplay, and the ability to play this one on your own is very welcome.

It’s one which I don’t think will spend too much time getting dusty under the stairs. While the rules are easy to understand, there’s definitely nuanced and strategic play to master here. Working together to balance the city cashflow, ensure you are setting up and achieving construction bonuses, and expanding your city as the milestones move forward, it’s definitely well suited to full party play. It’s very easy to fail on your first forays into city planning here. While I understood the rules, with a huge amount of love going to the Kosmos Helper App, it took me a few plays to get truly used to the strategy behind building.

If you loved the video game, the Cities Skylines Board Game has some nice touches and links to make you feel at home. The different zoning areas will be familiar, even if there are more rules to think about when building them. Balancing the different areas will be important to keeping your city happiness and employment index healthy, and those with game knowledge will get in touch with the system a little faster than those without. With that in mind though, if you’re a tabletop gamer just looking for a new strategic title for your library, not playing the game previously won’t really hamper your gameplay.

Cary your gameplay by adding various new advisors and assistants
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