Reviewed by Herb Levy

EXPANCITY (Breaking Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 60-90 minutes; $60)


Urban development is a theme explored more than once in the World of Games. The latest game to tackle this subject comes from designer Alex Cutler as players combine a bit of tile laying with structure building as they competitively expand their city in the appropriately named game: Expancity.

In Expancity, each player begins with a supply of building blocks in their chosen color (6 as a starting supply, the rest in reserve) and a hand of two tiles. There are three types of tiles in the game: green (for residential buildings), blue (for commercial buildings) and modifiers (which will impact the value of residential and commercial structures).  These tiles are mixed into a bag and all players draw 2. The six end game scoring cards are mixed (Tallest Building, Most Commercial Buildings, Most Residential Buildings etc.) and three randomly picked. (The rest are returned to the box). The city hall tile is placed in the center of the play area and play begins. 

On a turn, a player must place one of his tiles to grow the burgeoning city. A tile matches everything and must be situated horizontally or vertically to an already placed tile. (No diagonal placement.) Then, a player does 3 actions from a menu of 2 possibilities: place a block (onto a tile OR an already placed block) OR draw a tile from the reserve into supply. 

Blocks may be placed on green or blue tiles. Once a block is placed, that tile “belongs” to that player; no “sharing” or “hijacking” of a tile or building is permitted.  On subsequent turns, additional blocks may be placed atop already placed tiles making them bigger but there are rules to be followed here.

Residential buildings may be no more than 3 stories tall; commercial buildings must be at least 4 stories tall and have no height limitations. Also, you may NOT place more than one block on a building per turn. Once a building meets these requirements, that building may be “finished” and scored.

Buildings are finished by placing a roof on them. (A flat roof for residential, a peaked roof – either of the two types available – for commercial.) However, a finished building can be no taller than 1 story higher than the highest building you have already completed! (So, no construction of a 6 story commercial building is allowed until you have at least one 5 story building completed.) Completed buildings immediately score.

Each story is worth 1 point plus any modifiers adjacent to that building. Modifier tiles are landmarks of the city (library, park, hospital, police station etc.) and display plus or minus values for residential and commercial buildings built next to them. Empty green or blue lots (“urban blight”) are valued at a MINUS 1 modifier too. These scores are tracked on the scoreboard. Completing a building earns you another benefit: contracts. 

When completing a building, a player draws 2 contracts and keeps one.  These contracts show a “condition” (such as having six residential buildings in a 3 x 3 area or having a building constructed next to a library or having 3 residential buildings in a line etc.) that, if met, converts into the stated victory points at once! This add a spatial aspect to play which gives you additional goals to shoot for (a good thing) but might put off players who shy away from spatial challenges. 

Play continues until ALL tiles have been played. To points already earned, players check to see who has completed the three end game victory points conditions (each worth 12 points). These are added to the players meeting those conditions. (Tie? Then points are evenly divided.) The player with the highest total score wins!

The blocks used in this game are of good quality, colorful and pleasing to the touch. The tiles of the game, however, are fairly basic. Icons used on them (to differentiate various city locations) are easy to understand but printed small. Although the game does claim some space as all tiles must be played, slightly bigger and thicker tiles with larger icons would have been a nice touch. Speaking of tiles, all of them are supposed to go into the game’s bag from which they are drawn from turn to turn. The bag supplied with the game is surprisingly small making “shuffling” tiles, especially in the beginning stages of play, more difficult that necessary. We suggest commandeering a larger bag from one of the other games you probably have on your gaming shelf to eliminate the problem. 

Expancity comfortably fits into the city building category. Its Lego-like building blocks (that fit together snugly) will remind some of other games using the building block construction technique including Manhattan (Winter 1997 Gamers Alliance Report) and Big Boss (Summer 2009 GA Report). The game shares with those a real feeling of accomplishment as the city grows and skyscrapers are constructed. And the game looks good with its towering structures.

Unlike many tile laying games of this genre that overwhelm play with multiple modifiers and exceptions, modifier use here is streamlined and easy to calculate making the game flow smoothly. Expancity offers both strategic and tactical considerations to keep players – even more serious gamers – involved and interested as long as they don’t mind the luck factor here (due to tile and contract draws) and are able to shift gears, when necessary, to meet scoring objectives. Because this game doesn’t have the cutthroat competition for control of stacks of blocks that others have, Expancity works well for family game play too! – – – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy

Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.

Have a comment?



Other Spring 2019 GA Report articles


Reviewed by Joe Huber 5X5 CITY (OKAZU Brand, 1 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, 30 minutes; 3000 ¥ [about $27]) Hisashi Hayashi is among the most prolific Japanese game designers, releasing four or five games a year through his OKAZU Brand label.  These releases are roughly evenly split ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy THE ARRIVAL (Cryptozoic, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 75-90 minutes; $40) In a time long forgotten, the sinister King Balor of the Evil Eye rules the luscious emerald isle of Erin aided and abetted by the Formori, a supernatural face of fierce monstrous ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser COIMBRA (eggerstpiele, 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 60 to 90+ minutes;  $69.99) I must admit that with my decades of involvement in the hobby, I find my tolerance for “heavy” games decreasing.  Perhaps it is that I find it increasingly difficult to ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy CROWN OF EMARA (Pegasus Spiele, 1 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 45-75 minutes; $49.99) The kingdom of Emara is prosperous and at peace - but good times do not last forever. Wise King Theodorius, needing to prepare for a successor, has come up with ...
Read More
You are an enemy of the Daleks! Pevans avoids extermination to review DR. WHO: TIME OF THE DALEKS (Gale Force 9, 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 120+ minutes; $50) If you look on YouTube you’ll find every version of the Doctor Who theme music. I play the original ...
Read More
SIZE 10 FOOT IN A SIZE 7 SHOE Not to belabor the obvious but... the internet is a vast place and you will encounter people of all types in cyberspace. In the corners of that world that I haunt, I often come across folks who have just discovered this joy ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy EXPANCITY (Breaking Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 60-90 minutes; $60) Urban development is a theme explored more than once in the World of Games. The latest game to tackle this subject comes from designer Alex Cutler as players combine a bit of ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy GUGONG (Tasty Minstrel Games, 1 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; $59.95) Few cities conjure up such visions of awe and mystery as the Forbidden City of ancient China. This city, known as Gùgōng, was also riddled with corruption! To correct that blight, ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy ILLUSION (Pandasaurus Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 8 and up, 15-20 minutes; $14.95) Color - and perception - is key in the new game from award-winning designer Wolfgang Warsch that challenges your sense of color AND your senses: Illusion ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac QUARTERMASTER GENERAL: 1914 (PSC Games/Griggling Games, 3 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 180+ minutes; $59.95) Quartermaster General 1914 is the third game in the card driven light strategic Quartermaster General series by Ian Brody after Quartermaster General (featured in the Summer 2015 issue of ...
Read More
An iron curtain has descended.  Pevans reviews... QUARTERMASTER GENERAL: THE COLD WAR (PSC Games/Griggling Games, 3 to 6 players, ages 14 and up, 120 minutes; $65.80) The idea behind all the Quartermaster General games is Napoleon’s maxim that “an army marches on its stomach”. Supply lines are key and players ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy RACCOON TYCOON (Forbidden Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 8 and up, 90 minutes; $49.99) Astoria is a prosperous place where towns, factories and railroads are appearing on the landscape, the harbinger of even greater economic times ahead - and we don't want to be left ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Wray RAILROAD INK (Horrible Games/CMON, 1 to 6 players, ages 8 and up, 20-30 minutes; $17.99) The “roll and write” genre is having a moment, with dozens of titles releasing in recent months.  One of the bigger splashes has been Railroad Ink designed by Hjalmar Hach & Lorenzo ...
Read More
Reviewed by Kevin Whitmore ROOT (Leder Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 14 and up, 90-120 minutes; $60) Root is an impressive game designed by Cole Wehrle whose John Company (featured in the Summer 2018 GA Report) was released by Leder Games in 2018.  Readers might recall that Leder Games ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy TIME BREAKER (Looney Labs, 2 to 5 players, ages 8 and up. 10-40 minutes; $25) Something we seem to never have enough of is time, so when someone is messing around with it, you can easily understand the need to set things right. In this new ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy VICTORIAN MASTERMINDS (CMON, 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 60 minutes; $49.99) Many games entice players to connect with their "inner child". This time, designers Antoine Bauza and Eric M. Lang entice gamers to connect with their "inner evil" as players assume the roles ...
Read More

Facebook Feed

2 weeks ago

Gamers Alliance
Wishing a happy (96th!) birthday to Angela Lansbury, star of stage, screen and, of course, television as she solves lots and lots of mysteries in the classic series.... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook