Back in the 90s, I enjoyed collecting SimCity: The Card Game. I can't help but feel excited that there's a lot of potential in the game, but that the rules are broken and in certain aspects, to be honest, downright absurd.
I am especially bothered by a number of things that are either annoying or out of balance:
- The sheer amount of counting the rules have you do.
- Once you have a decent city going, keeping track of the number residents within however many of blocks—either by road or rail—is a headache.
- Worse yet, add a couple of Receive # for every [card type] within # blocks into the mix, and you'll spend a good deal of the evening counting.
- Zoning bonuses become crazy. Once a residential zone has reached a modest size, the value of putting any card down is dwarfed by the massive bonus of appending it to a zone. There's no sense in trying to close off a zone, either, because your opponent will eat you alive.
- Council members are useless. Never does the game reach a point in which rezoning is really an issue, because it takes too many members to veto the mayor and/or council chairman. You require much too many in the deck, and pretty much any other card yields more value in the long run.
- City services pay off much too much. Put down a few schools and a few police stations, and you'll be "adding" & "receiving" yourself to bliss.
- Many of the event cards are either extremely focused on the council, or, like Fire!, extremely destructive.
- Phase one cards pollute your deck once you have passed beyond that phase, but there's a dilemma: you can't really have less than a third of your deck filled with them unless you intend to sit around collecting cards for the first hour or so.
Some of these rules might be somewhat alleviated by limiting the playing area to something like 6×6, and having the good sense not to add too many city services, but that doesn't cut it for me. I sometimes get the impression that I might not be fully understanding the rules, but the official rulebook leaves so many questions unanswered.
For some reason, I feel very attached to the game, but the rules just let me down. Are there any good alternatives?
This Flickr stream has some photos, for those who haven't played for the past 15 years and wish to refresh their memory.