Point City is in some respects a spiritual successor to the massive hit that is Point Salad. From the same designed team (Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin and Shawn Stankewich) and publisher AEG/Flatout Games, Point City takes simple card drafting mechanisms and adds some additional complexity to deliver a game that promises to be as successful as its predecessor.
Point City is a card drafting, tableau/engine building game in which you are gaining resources to construct various buildings. A “market” of 4 x 4 cards is available to draft from. When drafting players take two adjacent cards from this market. Cards are double sided, with one side having a resource and the other a building. Depending on the face that is displayed will determine if you draft a resource or a building. Buildings can only be drafted if the player has the resources to construct it. New cards are added to the market and depending on what you draft will determine which side the new cards are placed on. Draft a resource and a building is placed face up. Draft a building and a resource is placed face up. Buildings may give players permanent resources (and points) or, in the case of civic buildings, civic tiles which are in essence end game scoring cards.
The game ends when the deck of cards is exhausted and points awarded for civic tokens and points on buildings constructed. The player with the most points is the winner.
There is no getting away from the fact that this is going to be compared to Point Salad. Point Salad was great for a specific audience, it was a small accessible card game that could be played with just about anyone, great artwork and quick playing. So is there a space for a more complex Point Salad? Lets find out.
Point City has a lot of good stuff going for it. I really enjoy the fact that you are building something which has a purpose. The initial stages of the game can be quite slow as you slowly collect resources to construct your first building, but the pace does pick up. Many of the buildings have permanent resources on them meaning you can begin, quite quickly, to construct two buildings per turn (assuming you have the right resources). Although not huge, the sense of progression is welcome. Add on to that the Civic tokens which can give you some good end game bonuses and there is a sense of purpose to what you are doing.
The way the market is refreshed I find very interesting and gives players some clever choices to make. With the cards flipping from resources to building and vice versa you need to be careful with what you are taking. Taking two resources might be what you need to do but that leaves two new buildings for your opponent to construct. Likewise constructing two buildings per turn gives your fellow players more resource options. The market is dynamic and ever changing and I do enjoy this mechanism. It does mean, however, that you can struggle to plan for your next turn at the higher player counts as the board could be significantly different. It does not really add to the down time as turns and the overall game length is pretty quick.
There is some added complexity but it is only a small step up from Point Salad. If you are looking for something with a little more, then this would be a good option. It is still accessible, quick playing and I would not hesitate to introduce this to non gamers.
There is a solo mode for Point City which works very well. The AI will take two cards in a predetermined manner (the junction of two tokens and the card below). This gives you a lot of control over which cards the AI is going to take. I think this mechanism is fabulous and is very easy to implement. You can, to some extent, force the AI player to take resources, giving you two new buildings to complete. If the AI player takes a card with a civic token then you take the first available token from those displayed. I have racked up over a dozen plays of this solo and it is one of my staple solo games now. It is so easy to set up and play.
Overall, Point City is another hit for me. For solo play it is fab. Multiplayer works just as well. It is quick, adds enough decisions to make it interesting yet still keeping with streamline rules and easily accessible. Just remember to use those tokens to remind you what to replenish the market with. I apparently have a very poor short term memory.