Between Two Cities is a tile drafting and placement game designed by Ben Rosset & Matthew O’Malley and published by Stonemaier games. In the game, each player is working simultaneously on building two different cities, each one shared with one of their neighbors. At the end of the game each player will find themselves between two different cities, with the winner determined by whose lower scoring city is the best – thus requiring players to constantly balance the needs of both of their cities.
The game takes place in three rounds, during each of which players will simultaneously add new tiles to each of their cities under construction. In the first and last round they are drafting from a subset of single building tiles, while the middle round finds a choice of double building tiles to incorporate into their cities.
Each building has it’s own scoring mechanism, which means it’s not always clear what the best tile to select is for a given city. Some buildings care about their placement in the city, or at least of the neighboring tiles, while others simply care about the other tiles in the city. For instance, offices score based on how many are in the city in total while parks want contiguous blocks for their scoring.
One of the keys to keep in mind as you construct your two cities is that they must fit into 4×4 grid of tiles, which means that as the game goes on the options for legal placement of new tiles incorporated into the city quickly dwindle. Since each city is being built with another player’s input you will need to negotiate some for tile placement. Unlike other drafting games where your neighbors are your enemies, in Between Two Cities your neighbors are your partners and you need to work with them to make the best city possible.
In all, Between Two Cities is my favorite game of the year so far, and will be difficult to dislodge from that spot. I greatly enjoy drafting mechanics, such as those found in Seven Wonders. There is little downtime in the game, which can be important with my usual group and their propensity to go to cell phone games during said down time. pointed stare. The cooperative nature of the city construction adds an interesting layer to the drafting challenge. Further, with the varying ways of scoring there is rarely a “best” strategy – at most you might find a best tile for your current city.
A very well balanced tile drafting game, with both cooperative and competitive elements. Quick to pick up, quick to play. I would recommend it to any group that’s looking for a faster paced strategy game, with solid drafting and construction elements. Two cities up.
Review based on Kickstarter edition of the game.