Review: Sorcerer City

The alleys, neighborhoods, and districts of Sorcerer City are ever changing. As a wizard architect, your aim is to gain influence and power by creating the most interesting, best planned area of town. But don’t let the local monster problem slow you down!

Sorcerer City is a fast paced, real time tile laying game from Druid City Games.

How To Play

Sorcerer City is played over 5 rounds called Years, during which players will attempt to accumulate the most Prestige. Each player receives an identical stack of twelve starting tiles, three transformation cards, and a Progress Track. Set up the Market by taking the Market tiles and separating them by the icon on their back. Reveal three tiles from each stack and place them under their respective Market stalls, then put the whole stack of rainbow tiles under its stall. Set up the Influence board by drawing an influence card and putting it in for each Year. Set the monsters to the side, as they will come in later, but it is helpful to separate the tiles by monster type if you have the room to spare. 

Each round, players begin by shuffling their tile stacks. The sand timer is flipped (though there is a timer phone app which we recommend over the sand timer) and players begin building their cities at the same time, in real time. While the timer is running, reveal one tile from your deck, then place it anywhere in your city, adjacent to a previously played tile. Tiles contain patterns of the colors red, blue, yellow and green. These colors do not mean anything inherently, but instead, are scored based on tiles which contain goal shields. Some goals want you to have the same color touching across a certain number of tiles, no matter the configuration. Some goals want you to make long straight lines of a single color. And some goals want you to surround the tile it is on with other goals. You may stop drawing tiles whenever you want, but if you draw a tile you must play it, even if it is bad for you. Fortunately, since tiles are marked with what type of tile they are, you always have at least a hint of what is in store if you draw.

When the timer runs out or everyone has stopped placing tiles, it is time to score the goal tiles. Scoring a goal of a color moves you up the progress track of the same color. Blue is wild – begin each scoring phase by simultaneously playing one of your transformation cards to turn all your blue into one of the other colors. Red earns you Influence, a competitive track – earn the most to receive Prestige and the Influence card for the round, get second place to take either the Prestige or the card, third place gets the option second place didn’t choose, and everyone else just gets extra money for purchasing. Yellow earns you money, which you can use to buy better tiles from the market. Green gets you Prestige directly and is the most efficient way to earn points, but the person who gets the least Prestige from their track in the round gets a free Market card to help them catch up. At the end of scoring, reveal a monster card – every player gets one of these monsters to add into their decks, and monsters can mess with your building and scoring in a variety of ways, with each monster type being different. At the end of five Years, whoever has the most Prestige wins.

Thoughts

Its SO bright and engaging. At first glance the tiles create interesting patterns of color across your play area, but if you look even closer you’ll find even more detail. The cards are similarly bright and well detailed. In general, a lot of commitment to beautiful art table presence. That being said, it can be somewhat of a table hog, so be sure you have a good amount of space available before you get too far and realize you’re running off the play area.

The real time aspect keeps gameplay moving. Having players go simultaneously and with a timer speeds play along. There’s no need to watch someone else play tiles, so this part of play is shortened into its own hysterical minigame of fast paced tile flipping and placement. Players score together, but that’s far more interesting (and faster) for everyone involved.

Monsters are going to elicit some groans, but in the right way. There’s just enough push-your-luck to keep you guessing with each flip, but never so much that it feels punishing. (Seriously tho, the lich can get right out, no mistake.)

Deluxe Edition is well worth its weight in coins. The inserts help keep all the bits snug in their place. The trackers are well detailed, even more impressive because of their small size. The coins are weighty and interlock to stack perfectly, which will please even the most discerning of components aficionados (In our case, Beneeta)

The Market helps shake things up. In addition to offering cool new tiles to improve and change scoring, there’s a small catch up for players that are lagging a little behind. Between the Market, Monsters, and changes in the influence cards, no two games will be the same.

Would I play again? Absolutely, particularly with 3-4 players. Sorcerer City is great for a small group game night – easy to teach and lots of rollicking engagement. This one’s staying in my collection.