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Between Two Cities: Capitals
Publisher: Stonemaier Games
Designer: Matthew O'Malley, Ben Rosset
Players: 1-7
Time: 30-35 min

The BLUF

Between Two Cities: Capitals expands the base game by adding several new challenges: landscapes, districts, and civic building tiles!

In the Box

Between Two Cities: Capitals is a small box expansion to Stonemaier's 2015 release, Between Two Cities. The game includes 7 landscape mats that add new strategy to the game, 7 district cards that give players goals for end game bonuses and 21 civic buildings that score points for adjacent building types. 

Also included is a new Automacity solitaire variant utilizing the Automata Factory Stonemaier is well known for.

Initial Thoughts

Between Two Cities is one of my favorite games and it's unfortunate that I don't see it mentioned very often. The set collection, tile drafting and placement make the game a huge hit around my table because it scales between 1 to 7 players so well. 

In Capitals, the addition of landscapes and districts adds a new layer of strategy and co-operation. The civic buildings are a fun addition to planning the perfect city. 

If you are unfamiliar with Between Two Cities, read below to find out how it’s played or scroll to my Capitals Expansion to read what is new!  

How to Play

Between Two Cities is played over three rounds. At the start of each round, each player will draw a hand of random tiles. In rounds 1 and 3, players will draw 7 tiles and in round 2, players draw 3 duplex tiles.

On your turn, secretly choose 2 tiles from your hand to play into your cities and pass the remaining tiles. After all players have passed their remaining tiles to their neighbor (Left in the 1st Round, Right in the 2nd Round and Left again in the 3rd round), each player simultaneously reveals their chosen tiles. Each player co-operatively works with their neighbors to their left and right to determine the best location for each tile in each city. 

To play a tile into your city, it must be added adjacent to a tile already in your city and all tiles must be oriented in the same direction. The tiles you select and their positioning determines how many points you score at the end of the game. 

At the end of the game, each city will form a 4x4 square of 16 buildings.

How to score points

What’s the #1 rule in real estate? Location, location, location. Each building is unique and scores points in different wants.

Shops: A set is worth 2/5/10/16 and are scored in a row, vertically or horizontally.

Factories: A tile is worth 4, 3 or 2, determined by majority. The city who owns the most factory tiles will score 4 per factory, the city with the second most scores 3, and in all other cities, factories score 2 points.

Taverns: A set is worth 1/4/9/17. There are four different tavern tiles, each with a unique icon inside a red diamond. For each unique icon in a city, that city scores 1 point for one icon, 4 points for two icons, 9 points for three icons or 17 points for all four icons.

Offices: A set is worth 1/3/6/10/15/21 and a tile is worth +1 point if next to one tavern. If a city has seven offices, it starts a new set of offices.

Parks: A group of one or more connected parks is worth 2/8/12/13/14…

Houses: A tile is worth 1 point per other building type in your city but a house next to a factory is only ever worth 1 point.

Winning the Game

In order to win, you need to show love to both of your cities! The winner will be the player who co-operatively built both of their cities as best as possible. The lowest score of your two cities is your FINAL score e.g. In the above picture, the city on the left scored: 17 (4 Taverns) + 9 (3 Offices + 1 point per office next to a tavern) + 12 (3 Parks) + 10 (3 Shops) + 10 (2 Houses w/5 icons) + 2 (1 Factory) = 60 Points.

The city on the right scored: 16 (4 Factories) + 4 (2 Taverns) + 2 (1 Office + 1 point next to 1 Tavern) + 14 (5 Parks adjacent) + 2 (1 Shop) + 15 (3 Houses w/5 icons) = 53 points.

My final score is 53 points. 

4th Wall Break: Wait, you didn’t think you could just neglect a city and screw over your neighbor, did you? Remind me to never to buy a house next to THAT person…


The Capitals Expansion

Capitals is one of the best expansions I’ve ever played. Expansions are often hit or miss for me. Some add new gameplay, while others dilute too much of what I loved in the core game. The bottom line is, expansions aren’t always a good thing; unless it’s Capitals.

Capitals is a nearly perfect expansion in every sense.  Let’s find out what they’ve added to the core game!

Solitaire mode - Automacity

The inclusion of the automata into the expansion is well done though a bit difficult to grasp at first. While the game shines with 2+ players, the fact that Stonemaier went out of their way to incorporate Capitals into the Automata gets a thumbs up from me.

Landscapes

During set-up, each player takes one landscape. Each city’s landscape shows a natural feature and includes 5 tile spaces that cannot be built upon. The artwork is simple but elegant. At the end of the game, your city will form a 5x5 square, rather than the 4x4 square.

You must play your first tile in your landscape and each landscape has one or more bridges that connect tiles to one another. This is important, because if a factory and house are connected by a bridge, they would be considered adjacent for end game scoring.

 

Districts

At the beginning of the game, each district tile is placed in the center of the table, and 2 district cards are randomly dealt to each tile. Districts are regions of connected tiles of the types on the two cards and are scored at the end of the game. 

Civic Tiles

Each civic tile shows two positives tile types and one negative tile type. A civic tile will score 3 points for one positive tile placed adjacent to it and 6 points for both positive tile types. If the negative tile type is placed next to the civic tile, it will only score 1 point.

Positives and Negatives

Positives

  • Landscapes add deeper strategy to an already strategic tile laying game.
  • Turns remain quick and players are continuously invested in the building of each city.
  • Drafting tiles allows players to explore combinations and synergies.
  • Simple gameplay is easy for non-gamers, casual and hobby gamers to enjoy.
  • Districts give players goals to achieve at the end of the game.
  • The 2-player variant is even better and is my favorite way to play.

Negatives

  • End game scoring can be complicated for new players.
  • New players can accidentally destroy a city’s score. 
  • Random tile draws can sometimes lead to uninteresting decisions.
  • Solitaire is more fiddly with the inclusion of the Automacity

Final Thoughts

The Capitals expansion takes Between Two Cities from good to great.

Landscapes create interesting dilemmas for each player, districts allow players to plan their city layout and civic tiles add more scoring opportunities but, in my opinion, are the weakest inclusion in the expansion.

If you enjoy set collection, drafting and/or tile laying, Between Two Cities is a fantastic game to add to your library. It’s a step up from games like Carcassonne and Kingdomino in complexity but remains simple enough for casual and hobby gamers to enjoy. 

I give Between Two Cities + Capitals, 8.5 factories out of 10