A to Z Gaming: Cityscape

We built skylines in Cityscape, the next game in our A to Z game-shelf play-through.

Basic Info: Cityscape
Players: 2-4
Time: 10-20 Minutes
Designer: Sjaak Griffioen
Artist: N/A
Publisher: Pin International



Cityscape is played in a number of rounds, as determined by the players beforehand. Each round the players try to build up the skyline on their side of the board according to secret goals, scoring points if they achieve their goals. After the last round, the player with the most points wins.

Using dice hidden in their player board, players set secret goals each round that correspond to different ways the city’s skyline might look from their perspective at the end of the game. The different numbers each represent a different goal.

The goals for the numbers 1-4 are based on how many buildings are visible in that row of buildings. For example, a goal of “1” means that the first building in that row needs to be the same size or taller than all others, so you can’t see any of the ones behind it. The number 5 indicates that you want buildings that are visible to be of the same height as others that are visible in that row. And a 6 is the goal of having the tallest building in the city somewhere in that row.

 Once the goals are set, players begin placing wooden pieces anywhere on the 4×4 block grid. Each block on the board represents a city block. And, not all blocks need to have a piece by the end of the round. These blank spaces do not count as buildings for secret goals, but are empty city blocks.

The wooden pieces come in a variety of sizes and can be placed on top of each other, in any order. Once all the pieces have been placed, players reveal their secret goals, and assess if the skyline from their perspective matches any of those goals. After the scores are recorded, the board is cleared and players start again, defining new goals and building the city anew.

After the set number of rounds, players total up all of their scores, and the person with the most points wins.

We have had Cityscape in our collection for over a decade. I’m fairly sure we played it a few times, long ago, because the game looks very familiar. However, the game itself felt utterly unfamiliar, so we were both confused.

In the two-player game, each player defines goals for two adjacent sides of the board. This entails a bit of strategy, since you don’t want your “tallest building in the city in this row” goal on one side of the board to break your “see 4 buildings in this row” goal on the other side of the board. However, I did exactly that in my first round! I tried to tackle the second round with a bit more thought.

I suspect that the 2-player game offers a bit more strategy than the 4-player game. It seems that with higher player counts, the look of the city is less under your control, and you may find yourself at the whims of the other players. However, by controlling adjacent sides in the 2-player game, it feels as though you have more opportunity for strategy.

Cityscape a fine game, though it is another abstract game that we bought early in our tabletop gaming days when we bought a lot of abstracts. These days we seem more attracted to themes and art (not that there isn’t art in abstracts, it’s just not always as plentiful or obvious).

How is it as a 2-player game?  It’s okay as a 2-player game – in fact, I suspect it’s better as a 2-player game than 4-player. By controlling two sides of the board, there is some strategy in planning your goals. With 4-players, it’s going to be random, since you don’t have any clue what the other players are planning.

How about the art and component quality? The design is beautiful and the components high quality. The base, blocks, player shields are chunky wood. The dice aren’t great, but, of course, are only used to mark your goal for each row of your cityscape, so don’t need to be great for rolling.

Will this stay in my collection? No. We bought a number of abstract games early in our board gaming life, but it turns out that we aren’t huge fans. So, this will be another that moves out of our collection.

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