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Designed for GreyFox Games by Chris Leder and Daryl Andrews
It is for 2-4 players aged 14+ (10+ year old board games players could play it but possibly not understand all the intricacies).
Games take just over an hour (about 75 minutes) until you can open the box and begin playing, not having to read the rules again.

Chris Leder is the designer behind the very popular ROLL FOR IT series of dice and card games from Calliope Games, and the Ravensburger published 'Back to the Future: Dice Through Time' game. He is also 'Director of Fun' at Calliope Games, one of the people (including Ray Mehrs & Andrew Hepworth) who helped publish the exquisite second edition of my game Station Master.

It is the 19th Century and an inventor of ingenious creations has declared his plans for building an idealistic city which he has designed to run on an amazingly intricate conglomeration of cogs and gears. Everything was set and ready, with constructions of the most wonderful architecture beginning to sprout up, seemingly waiting to be linked into the innovational gear system. Sadly, the inventor passed away before his inspirational dreams could fully function.

 

As engineers you have been tasked to complete the City of Gears, and to do so you have a workforce of automatons. The players are competing against each other to be the best and most successful architects and artisans by gaining the most prestige points.

The game is enhanced by the excellence of the components; tough, durable card player (factory) personal boards, hi-impact special dice (in the player colours), dozens of quality card tokens that are robust, heavy and substantial to last a myriad plays, numerous plastic 6-edged Gear wheels, and a beautifully embroidered draw-string bag. Once you have studied the pieces and understand what each is for, you are ready to begin building the City of Dreams - the CITY of GEARS.

 

The central area of the city is built using 9 of the twenty-one 12cm x 12cm city tiles face down on the table. As there are 21 City tiles and only 9 are used each game it is fair to say that each game will be somewhat different than the previous. On the North, East, South and West sides of this (in a 4-player game) the player boards are positioned, joining at their top, central, cog/gear. Now the board is complete and the game can commence.

Each player, in turn order, rolls their dice and gains Steam, Cogs or Zaps (shown as Clouds, Cogs and Lightning Z - we referred to the lightning strike icons as energy because 'Zaps' sounds a wee bit too much like it's from a Batman comic.

 

Whatever you roll on your dice (whether it be 3 dice as in the beginning or 4 later in the game) you get to spend on performing various Actions, such as moving your Workers, exploring a face-down City tile etc. Spending Cogs allows you to draw cogs from the bag and then either use them, face down, to connect City tiles, or to place face up in a free slot on the base of your Factory (personal player board) so that whatever their special ability is (dictated by the text on the Cog face). Zaps are used to send huge electric charges through an opponents Worker or Gear Link or to Demolish an opponent's Gear link. For most Actions you generally need one of your Workers in close proximity.

Fun and Frustrating, Thoughtful and Strategic.

CITY of GEARS is a clever area control/worker placement game in a tough, cyberpunk style era. It is one of those games where in your turn you often wish you'd made different moves or taken different options, and also one of those frustrating games where you do everything you possibly can, but it's not quite enough to actually complete what you really wanted to do.

We like playing the game because, although it covers themes that we already have a lot of games of in the same genre, it has some welcome differences, one of which being that if you do not spend all of the resources you roll on your dice you can save them or convert them for later turns; they don't suddenly disappear.

One of the worst things about the game, and most downright infuriating fun at times, is the ending - it arrives immediately the third Opening Day token is drawn, stopping the game there and then - the 'at play' player does not get to continue their turn and players who are a turn behind do not get to catch up - the race has ended! This has been the cause of so many 'grown-ass gamers' pleading for the round to finish (whether I have been one of them, more than once, I take the fifth!).

Although the stopping of play can be harsh, there is still a moment of hope left for the players. Traveling from City tile to City tile the owning/dominating player gains Prestige. Then the End(of)Game Developments Bonus Prestige is allocated accordingly and finally all Prestige Tokens collected during play (apparently you don't get extra Prestige for hosting the games and freely handing out soft/hotdrinks and hot/cold snacks). 

Zatu Games UK have it for a jolly decent £23.41

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021