What a day. Going back to work after a long weekend is always a struggle. On the up side, I get together with my game group on Tuesdays. We usually coordinate through a Facebook event and have about three hours of time to play. I know how many people are coming, I know what our primary game is, and I always have a backup game and some filler. I also watch a how to play video (link it in the event) and, if it’s my game, read through all the rules.
This week was different. I’ve been so busy there was no coordination, I didn’t know who was coming, and to top it off, we are going to start playing AD&D and wanted to spend some time on character generation (of which I was also wholly unprepared). Wanting to be flexible I grabbed two games before heading to work this morning. The first game I brought was Spyfall, which didn’t see the table tonight. I had picked it because of it’s variable player count, and, while not easy to master, it’s very easy to teach. The other game I grabbed was Between Two Cities by Stonemaier Games and, as you can guess from the title of this post, is what we ended up playing tonight. It earned it’s place also because of it’s player count, but more than that was the simultaneous player actions. The box said about 25 minutes per game. I figured our group, who gets distracted easily, could maybe crank it out in 50 minutes and we could move onto AD&D.
The normal flow of our night is as follows: About half the group gets off at 4pm, then starts slowly arriving at the hosts house between 4:20 and 5:30. Often it is 6:00 before we start playing, we play one game, sometimes will squeeze in a 2nd play, then we say it’s getting late and pack it in for the night. About an hour later we leave for our respective house, after getting distracted by our own words.
Tonight was an anomaly. I wasn’t prepared to teach the game, but as usual I was the first to arrive. I quickly ready the rules, set up the game play area, and explained the game (except the scoring) to people as they arrived. After everyone was there I walked them though how cities will score and how that reads on the player aid card. There were still some questions about scoring, but we just jumped into the game anyway.
In Between Two Cities, each player is a well-known city planner who has been asked to redesign two cities. Since it’s a large project you get two partners. One partner will help you with each city. What the looks like on the table is each player builds a city in the space between them self and the person on their right. They do the same with the person on their left.
The game plays over three rounds, and in each round you draw a hand of tiles, pick two tiles to keep, and pass the rest left or right, depending on the round. After everyone has selected their tiles, you reveal your tiles and then work with your partners to place one of your tiles in each of your cities, while your partners will place one of their tiles in each of their cities. Each placement step adds two tiles to your city. By the end of the game, you’ll have build a four tile by four tile city on each side of you. If you passed more than one card after your last selection, you repeat the selection and placement steps with your new hand of tiles. If not, you discard the remaining tile.
After all three rounds, each team will score their cities. I’ll talk about scoring in a supplemental post soon, but what I find interesting is that each player only gets to count the score of their lowest city. The keeps someone from putting all the best tiles in one city and drafting garbage for the other. Balance of your cities is key.
The first play was about 35 minutes. We were all familiar with drafting strategies and things moved along fairly quickly. We built out cities, scored them and everyone was fairly close to each other, but a clear winner was determined. It wasn’t me, it was my partner. The game was very well received and we played again. This time we played in 20 minutes. We actually played a game in less time then we were told it would take us. All the cities scored much higher then the first time, the details I will go into in my supplement tomorrow. This time I was the winner!
A third game was offered and all agreed. Strategies were refined, scores crawled even higher, and I won again. I love it when a plan comes together. There were no real epiphanies in the third game. The epiphany came about three hours later when I finally got home. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow in my supplement. For now it is past my bed time.