GTM #205 - Mad City
Reviewed by Jane Trudeau-Smith & Philip Smith

If you're looking for a game that is challenging, but easy to learn and play, then Mad City may fit the bill! Each round, you’re up against the clock to build your city, but also to score as many points as possible. The player who scores 150 points or more (base game), or 100 points or more (standard game) wins!

Was this Game Easy to Learn?

We took the rule book’s advice and played the base game first, which was quick and easy. So, we went straight to playing another game using the standard rules, which took a bit longer and was more of a challenge.

How is it Played?

There are 54 city tiles that are placed in a bag. The city tiles have three different zone colors (red, yellow, and blue) as well as roads, parks, and lakes. The tiles with buildings are urban, residential, or industrial zones.  For a round, each player draws nine tiles and keeps them face down in front of them. A “Park Ranger Tree” (a little wooden tree token) is placed on the table within everyone’s reach, and a one-minute sand timer. Each player also receives their own scoring track.

To play:

  1. The timer is started and each player turns over their nine tiles – each player must build their own city in a 3x3 grid – the tiles do not have to match in any specific way, but when zones on tiles match up, that zone is considered larger, likewise when roads match up it makes the road longer, etc.
  2. Whoever finishes their city first can grab the tree token (and score points for lakes and parks, if they have any); the player who takes the tree can no longer re-arrange their tiles
  3. Once the timer expires, or everyone is completed, points are earned as follows:
    1. The player with the tree scores any lakes or parks they have; the bigger the lake or the park the more points they receive
    2. The player with the longest road, based on number of tiles, receives 3 extra points
    3. Then each zone is scored based on how many buildings are on them, for example…
  • Jane’s yellow zone has six houses so she receives 1 point
  • Jane’s red zone has seven industrial buildings so she receives 4 points for that
  • Jane’s blue zone has no urban buildings, so she receives zero points for that
  1. After each round, see how many points everyone has – once someone scores 150 or more points the game ends, and the player with the most points wins!

The above scenario describes the base game, but the standard game also brings into play contractor and scoring tokens, which make the game longer and allow you to take more risk.

  • At the beginning of the standard game, each player is given four tokens that represent Buildings, Industry, Roads, and Houses. Before the timer runs out in a round, if you feel your city has the longest road, or the most buildings, industries, or houses you can pick up and hold those corresponding tokens in your hand. During scoring if you have the most, you get additional points! But if you don’t, you lose points – which is why you’re taking a risk with the tokens. Note that the rule for longest road from the base game is not applicable.
  • There are scoring tokens which delay scores from happening in each round. Each player receives nine tokens which indicate when you can score. For example, one of the scoring tokens is in the shape of a triangle and is yellow, numbered 1-3 on each side. You start with the highest number along the bottom edge facing you. In the middle of the triangle it shows “7-12”. This sounds more complicated than it is – on each round if you have 7-12 houses in a yellow zone, you don’t score – you just rotate the triangle to the next lowest number. Once you have completed that three times, you flip the tile over, then score yellow zones with 7-12. It basically delays the ability to score, while adding a little more strategy and increasing game time.
  • In the standard game, the tree can no longer be picked up with anyone over 50 points, which also makes scoring a bit slower.

We loved the feeling of scrambling to get our cities together in less than a minute, while still trying to think strategically on how to place the tiles to get the most points!

~ Timing of the Game ~

The base game took us less than 30-minutes, but the standard ran almost 45-minutes because of the delayed scoring. However, we liked the standard version better as you can take risks with the contractor tokens.

There are also rules for a solitaire game, which is nice. Mad City is a fun, portable game we recommend picking up!

Fast Facts:

  • MSRP: $20
  • # of Players – 1-6
  • Age Range – 8+
  • Time to play – 30-45 minutes
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