Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kid Game Review: City Square Off

City Square Off
  • Designer: Ted Cheatham
  • Publisher: Gamewright
  • Players: 2
  • Ages: 8+
  • Playing Time: 15 minutes
  • Review by Mark Jackson (8 plays w/a review copy provided by Gamewright)
My wife likes this. Let me rephrase that... my non-gamer wife likes City Square Off. Heck, my wife voluntarily taught the game to one of her friends - a casual family gamer - who went out & bought a copy.

For some of you reading this, that's really all you need to know. This very straightforward Tetris-like two-player game is winningly produced (nice molds for the starting cities, Gamewright production people!) and the game play is simple enough that my six-year-old can play... though not competitively. And my very significant other likes it!

Ted Cheatham (note: Ted is a long-time personal friend) has created a game that's squarely (unintended pun - once again, my apologies for going OFF on a tangent.... dang, I did it again!) in the mode of FITS without being an identical gaming experience.

Here, players begin with non-identical city center pieces, an identical set of city "blocks" and their own gridded city board. (If you own a copy of Blokus, it's the same set set of tiles.) One of the players turns up a card which indicates which city block must be placed on the board... and that block has to go adjacent to the city center or an already placed block. The first player to be forced to play outside the grid loses... unless both players do so on the same turn - then the player with the largest single open area wins.

There are four variants listed in the rules - I especially like the "sprawl" version that lets player have city blocks hang off the edge - and there are four different city center pieces to increase the variety in the base game.

Like Take It Easy or Cities or FITS, there's really no limit on the number of players for City Square Off IF you have enough game sets... but the game is a lot of fun just with two players. As I said earlier, kids as young as 6 can figure out the game, but the ability to play well seems to develop a bit later.

Honestly, I'd be a fan of this game even if my friend hadn't designed it... but I do have give props to Gamewright for making it a classy & non-gamer friendly production.

This review originally appeared on the Opinionated Gamers website.

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