The early 1800's was a time of growth and in Between Two Cities you are a master planner who has been asked to help rebuild two different cities. These cities are of such importance it requires two people to finish the job. Will you be able to work with someone else to make the best city and maybe yourself be crowned the best city planner around?

Between Two Cities is a board game by Ben Rosset and Matthew O'Malley, published by Stonemaier Games - the team behind Scythe and Viticulture. It's a tile drafting/laying game where you must work with the person to your left and right simultaneously to help rebuild a city centre.

It’s a sort of co-op game, but it's not at the same time.

Between Two Cities - What’s in the box?

Between two Cities is a game for 1-7 players that plays in around 30 minutes. Like all Stonemaier games, the components are of great quality but this game lacks the array of components compared to the likes of Scythe, Viticulture and Euphoria. However this is a much lighter game.

Inside the box you will find:

  1. A score board.
  2. 14 different shaped city tokens.
  3. 132 building tiles.
  4. A deck of seating cards (cards with stipulations which help arrange the seating order in a fun way).
  5. Seven Reference cards.

The game is played in three rounds, where at the start of each round you draw tiles. Tiles are laid out in front of you secretly and the remaining tiles are passed to the next player.

  1. A score board.
  2. 14 different shaped city tokens.
  3. 132 building tiles.
  4. A deck of seating cards (cards with stipulations which help arrange the seating order in a fun way).
  5. Seven Reference cards.

The game is played in three rounds, where at the start of each round you draw tiles. Tiles are laid out in front of you secretly and the remaining tiles are passed to the next player.

All players do the following actions at the same time:

  1. Draw and choose - Here you will draw a number of tiles to form your hand and then choose two of these to place down in front of you.
  2. Reveal - Once everyone has placed their tiles, you then reveal the tiles by turning them over.
  3. Place - Now you must discuss your plans to the people you are working with to try and score points. Even after discussion the decision on where to place the tiles is yours.

The tiles have different buildings on them which all have different scoring criteria. The building types on the tiles are things like factories, shops, houses and parks.

Getting the correct combination, or combinations, of buildings is what scores you victory points at the end of the game. The city centre must stay within a four by four grid so this also limits to what you can place and where.

The rule book for Between Two Cities is very well done and even though its not a hard game to learn, like all Stonemaier rule books, it makes this task a lot simpler. The addition of the solo rules is also a great touch.

Final Thoughts

Ok let me say this. The first time I played Between Two Cities I did not enjoy the game at all. I did not think it was a bad game but I did not get any enjoyment out of it, which shocked me.

Stonemaier games are usually great and even if I don't fully understand one of Jamey Stegmaier games during the first play, I still get fun from it (Scythe I am looking at you). I didn’t like the idea of working with the person next to you but then the scoring being done as individuals. As much as you can influence them, ultimately it is down to luck in my opinion.

I am a fan of games that are based more on skill and strategy. I was wrong however, if you play this with a group three or four times then you soon learn that there is a strategic depth to the game. Just like every other Stonemaier game, there are levels of depth here even in a game that has such a short play time and is almost a filler game. Don’t be like me and only lay once and be put off as this is a game that rewards repeated plays.

The components are of a great quality and the step where you communicate does add to the theme of being a planner. The game flows and if you are willing to talk to the people playing it's very interactive and engaging. There is also little to no downtime at all which is a huge plus. Games fly by and the playtime is a great asset to Between Two Cities.

I do not hold the game in as high regard as my friends, who love the game, however I do think that it's a good game and has a lot going for it. Sadly though the theme does not interest me and the art work is somewhat lacking too.

In summary, Between Two Cities is a game that will give you more if you will put the effort in to play it multiple times with the same crowd. The semi co-op element is unusual and one I grew to like.

For the play time and its scalable player count,  it’s a game that stays in my bag for the occasions where we are stuck on what to play next it and is not necessary a game I must play. Between Two Cites for all its merits just does not feel like a Stonemaier game to me.

The Good

  • Plays 1-7 people.
  • Quick playtime.
  • Rewards multiple plays, as it becomes more strategic.

The Bad

  • First couple of games can be off-putting.
  • Scoring takes time to get used to.
  • Does not feel like a Stonemaier Game.

The Good
Plays 1-7 people.
Quick playtime.
Rewards multiple plays, as it becomes more strategic.

The Bad
First couple of games can be off-putting.
Scoring takes time to get used to.
Does not feel like a Stonemaier Game.

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