In Suburbia, you are working against other players to build communities that will attract more people while at the same time, providing enough money to grow and build.
Each player starts with three tiles, a community park, a factory and a suburb. A real estate market is placed on the center of the table with seven spaces of increasing value. Tiles are placed into each of these market spaces for sale. On a player’s turn, they will purchase these tiles, paying the cost on the tile, plus the cost of the market space, then take the tile and add it to their community. Players then score the tile. Scoring can include increasing or decreasing your income or your reputation. Some tiles also have “synergy” with other tiles, causing them to increase or decrease your or other players income or reputation. So after every tile that gets placed, on your or your opponents communities, you will check all your tiles to see if you adjust your values. Getting tiles that produce income early is key, as the higher your population gets, you will cross red lines on the scoring track that cause you to lose income and reputation. This is a nice “catch up” mechanism, but can also hinder you if you get too much population too early, and not enough income to purchase more tiles. At the end of your turn, you will gain money equal to your income, and population equal to your reputation. If players cannot or choose not to purchase a tile from the marketplace, they still have two options, building a lake (placing a tile face down, which produces instant money) or purchasing one of the three base tiles for a lesser amount.
Each player also has a secret goal, which could be anything from having the most of a tile type, to having the most money. All players will also be competing for four open goals which will score at the very end of the game. The player with the highest population and the end of the game wins.
Suburbia is a very strategic game, however the random nature of which tiles come up on any given game or turn can make each turn a challenge. Players who are prone to analysis paralasis could cause this game to run longer than the stated 90 minutes. It is also a “thinky” game. Players need to stay on top of what tiles are being played both on their boards and others, to make sure that they are scoring all the different synergies that they may have.
Players who have played Castles of Mad King Ludwig will easily pick up Suburbia as it has many of the same game mechanics. I enjoy this game, and like that even though the players are each building their own communities, they must pay attention on every turn to make sure they are scoring all their available points. If you like a more thought-intensive game, then Suburbia may be for you.