This review is for an expansion for Suburbia. If you haven’t already, you can read the review for the base game here.
A while ago we reviewed the popular board game Suburbia from Bezier Games. We quickly fell in love with this game (giving it a 5 star review) and it has often made it to our gaming table. Since that time, I have been eagerly awaiting the Suburbia Inc expansion that I was able to demo at Gen Con 2013.
When it comes to game expansions, my usual preference is for them to enhance the game, not make it more complicated. I want my game expansions to seamlessly fit in with the base game and not be so fiddly that I feel like I’m learning a second game. Does Suburbia Inc fit the bill? Read on to find out!
Suburbia Inc adds some new game play elements to integrate with your base Suburbia Game (if you haven’t read our review of Suburbia, you can do so here). There are four new game play elements you add to your game. You can add these expansions in piece meal, or do it all at once (my preferred method). The four new parts are:
New Building Tiles: 26 new building tiles come with Suburbia Inc for all three phases of the game. There are actually some clever new tiles included here. One is the Redevelopment Planner that basically will act as a placeholder for future tiles. Another is the Redistricting office which will steal population from your fellow players and pass them to you. The new tiles all add a bit of diversity to the base game and I enjoyed playing with them.
Bonus and Challenges: Bonus and Challenge tiles offer mid game boots for players that can meet their requirements. A Bonus tile is placed on top of the “B” stack and when it comes time to draw a tile from that stack, each player checks to see if they meet the requirements on the tile (the tile is face up during the game, so players know what they need). If they are successful, they will get an immediate income boost (+2 to +4). The challenge tiles work the same way but are placed on the “C” stack and boost a player’s reputation.
Border Tiles: The board tiles are probably the most different of all the expansions in Suburbia Inc. These area straight tiles that can hold 4 hex tiles on one side and nothing on the other three sides. They work just like the regular hex tiles, but are usually much more powerful. The borders also have lakes on the back, but are worth $4 per adjacent hex instead of the usual $2. Three border tiles will be face up at any given time to choose from (replaced when one is purchased).
New Goals: Five new goal tiles are added. These work in elements of the expansion.
Game Experience with the Expansion:
After spending some time with Suburbia Inc, I’m happy to report that the game will play pretty much of the same way once you’ve added in the expansion. The new building tiles (and the goal tiles) can be dumped right in with the previous choices with minimal effort. I should note that for players that like to use a lot of tile synergies (airports, restaurants, etc.); the expansion tiles will dilute the overall pool of tiles. So the rulebook recommends removing a base game tile for each expansions tile you add. I actually like the diversity of the tiles more than I worry about synergies, so I just dump them all together and let fate decide what I can build.
The bonus and challenge tiles are probably my favorite part of the new expansion. They add a nice little mid-game boost if you are lucky enough to meet their requirements. I also like having a short-term goal to work towards during the game. My goal tile always feels more like an overall long term strategy, that it’s kind of fun to have something else to work on during the game. Sometimes it does feel like the Bonus tiles get here too quickly as we burn through the “A” stack, but that just ups the challenge a little in the game.
The 13 different tiles that come with Suburbia Inc add a good amount of diversity to the game and are quite clever. I already mentioned the Redevelopment Planner and the nasty Redistricting Office, but my favorite has to be the County Assessor. That tile gets you $2 for each of your other tiles and is a great way to get a constant influx of cash. You are basically getting a $2 discount on every tile you buy. Overall I love the new tiles in the expansion and think that they integrate very well.
Finally, I get to the boarder tiles. I’m not quite sure what to make about them. They work perfectly fine in the game. They do some neat things and fit in well with the game play. The problem is my city no longer looks like a nicely formed group of hexes. I used to take pleasure in my sexy looking city of hexes. Now, when I add the border tile, it tends to ugly up my city as it locks in one of the hexes. Honestly, this is just my anal retentiveness annoying me, and I can’t really think of a better way they could have made this. I like playing with the border tiles, they work really well and I just wish they looked nicer in the city once played. A minor gripe, but there you have it.
So our first question was if Suburbia Inc can seamlessly fit in with the base game without dumping too much complexity on to the players. Well I’d say that that the answer is a resounding, yes! Everything fits in nicely with the base game and, honestly, I can’t see myself ever playing Suburbia again without this expansion. The Bonus and Challenge tiles were a clever way to create some short term goals and I am really enjoying the new building tiles.
For fans of Suburbia, this expansion is a must buy. Seriously, go buy it today, you won’t regret it. Unfortunately, if you hated Suburbia then there is probably nothing here to change your mind. Suburbia Inc is a great expansion that adds onto an already fantastic game. Suburbia can be a little bit fiddly at times as you try and keep track of all the bonuses, so I was happy to find out that this new expansion doesn’t make that problem any worse.
Suburbia Inc manages to add a lot more diversity and fun to an already stellar game, all without adding on any unnecessary complexity or bloat. Pick this one up today.
If you are interested in getting a copy for yourself, it’s about $23
• Border tiles feel a little awkward in the city.