Well, it's time for some cute, fuzzy animal folk to head west and start up a little cozy town of their own.
Capital City is a bluffing, bidding, drafting, engine/tableau building games for 3-6 players. Everyone is hoping to build the best city, in the hopes of it eventually becoming the Capital City. Players do this by getting folks to come to your town, and then building businesses for them to work at, which will score you money or victory points! Yay!
So, is Capital City a capital game, or just flyover state? Let's find out!
The components are mainly cards.
Character cards - These are in sets, called Families, and each Family has a color and is depicted by a certain animal (frogs, buffalo, etc.). You'll also notice that they have half of an icon on them (hearts, gears, or badges).
Building cards - These are various, different old timey western buildings such as taverns, general stores, etc. These will score you points or money. They also have the other half of one or two icons that match the Character cards.
Point and Money tokens - There's a whole pile of these. Point tokens are what determine the winners. Money helps you buy buildings.
4 Season cards - These cards tell you how to set up each round.
Priority cards - Numbered 1-6, you'll only need to use as many as there are players in each game.
There are a few other things in the box, such as some quick-reference cards, the rule sheet, etc.
Setup is pretty quick and easy. You're going to shuffle up the 2 different decks, deal each player a card from the Character/Family deck, and then you'll flip over the first Season card (Spring) and set up the round accordingly.
Each Season consists of at least one train full of character cards (one per player in the game) and a "Main St." which has a varying number of Building cards depending on the Season. Stack the priority cards in descending order face up.
Each player takes $10, and the game is ready to begin.
Capital City plays over four rounds (Seasons), and each Season has a few different steps.
Setup the Train(s) and Main St-- The Character cards are dealt facedown and the Buildings are dealt face up.
Bid for Priority-- With the highest number card on top, players can choose to put a single coin on it in order to not take it, or to take the card and any cash that is sitting on it. And then bidding starts on the next priority card.
Select Characters-- The player who has priority card #1 picks up all of the Train cards and selects a Character and places it face down in front of them. They then pass the remaining cards to the player with #2, and so on.
Purchase Buildings-- Again in priority order players can decide if they'd like to buy a Building (only one!) and pay the price on the deed, Or if they don't buy a Building they receive $5. If they do buy a Building it gets placed face up in front of the player who bought it.
Attach and Activate--Now it's important to note that this is done in reverse priority. Players take turns attaching any Characters to their Buildings by matching up the icons on the cards. When you do this, the player who attached the card can activate the Building (if all open spots on the Building card are filled) and score either the point value or the cash that the Building produces. THEN they can also activate any other Buildings staffed by the same Family as the one they just activated. Also, the other players can activate one of their Buildings that has a Character of the same Family that was just activated. Again, you can only score the points or the cash that is available from a Building, not both at the same time.
Once everyone has placed Characters and activated them, you set up the next Season according to the next Season card and start the bidding again. After the 4th Season (winter) is finished, players can purchase additional victory points for $10 each. Then victory points are added up, and the player with the most points wins!
Let's just start with this: Capital City is really fun, clever, and well designed.
Each Season plays smoothly and quickly, has minimal housekeeping, and a well-measured amount of player interaction. There are several elements/mechanics at play here: bidding/auctioning, set collection, and engine building are the key elements and they all integrate into one very satisfying game experience.
The components, and artwork are splendid! Fun, colorful, creative artwork really pull you into this quaint old west theme, while being functional and fun. I really like how the game looks!
Because each season plays pretty quickly, and there are only four seasons to play through, each decision you make is weighted pretty heavily. Do you spend a little extra money to get a better priority card so you control your fate when drafting? Or do you just snatch up the first one so you can rake in more activations as players attach cards later in the round? Do you put money on the first card hoping no one else wants it so it will come around to you and you can make a little money while still getting the priority you wanted anyway? And that's just the bidding phase! While each decision carries some heft, the decisions aren't complicated: bid, or take the card. Choose one of four characters. Buy a building or get a little extra cash. They aren't complicated, but they are important and that makes this game REALLY fun! And helps eliminate Analysis Paralysis.
The Final Verdict
Capital City is an outstanding feat of smooth mechanics, outstanding artwork, and just plain fun gameplay! Capital City is accessible to gamers of all levels and offers a ton of great game play in a short time frame. Well done!!
You can listen to episode 91 of That's How I Roll to hear more of Jeremiah's thoughts on Capital City right here!
Thanks so much for reading! Have you played Capital Cityl? We'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Just comment below or email us by clicking the contact button up top!
We'd like to thank Calliope Games for providing a review copy of Capital City; this in no way influenced our opinion.