We Can’t Stop Playing City Square Off

City Square Off. Image: Gamewright

As time goes on, I find it more and more difficult to play kid games that are either purely chance, or are so easy that I beat my seven year old son every time. I’ve been making an ever-growing mental list of board games that are both fun and challenging for players of all ages. Here’s my latest addition.

City Square Off is a game somewhat similar to Blokus. Both involve pentomino-style tiles placed competitively. Where City Square Off deviates from Blokus, though, is that each of the two players has their own board, the pieces are placed according to different rules, and there is a bit more chance involved.

Gameplay

Each player takes a board and all the tiles in their color. They then choose a starting city and place it in the middle of their board. The top card in the deck is flipped over and each player places the indicated piece on their board, touching the middle city grid or any of the other pieces. Then the next card is flipped, and another piece placed. Unlike Blokus, pieces in City Square Off need to have an edge of a piece touching other pieces, instead of only touching on corners and in no other way. The last person to still be able to place a piece is the winner. If both players can’t place the piece on the current card, whoever has the largest single contiguous open area left on their board wins.

Who Is it Good For?

City Square Off is as big of a challenge for grownups as it is for kids. Kids can play together, grown-ups can play, or a kid and a grown-up can play. We had this game with us on our recent road trip, and my son talked many a grown-up into playing it with him. They usually asked him to play a second time. The box says the game is for ages 8 and up, but I think that clever 5 year olds will do fine.

Is It Any Good?

An unreserved yes. This game is simple and easy to learn, but is a lot of fun and is challenging, and is different each time you play. The game is quick to play, and is based mostly on strategy with only a bit of luck. If you can only take one game with you somewhere, this is a good one, since it is versatile and good for all ages.

Strategy

Sometimes to win the game you have to gamble a bit about piece placement. Depending on the pieces you have to play during the game, your placement may help you succeed or help you go down in flames of non-glory. You can try to leave places open for as many types of pieces as possible, but eventually you will run out of room. There are more pieces than will fit on the board at once, so you never know ahead of time which subset of pieces will make up the game.

Be Creative

There are plenty of rule variations included in the game, and you can also think up your own. My kids already thought of several, some of which posed a real challenge to their grown-up counterparts. Kids can also just play with the pieces on the board trying to fit them in or trying to make patterns.

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City Square Off sells for $19.39 on Amazon.com. It’s a fantastic, quick strategy-ish game for any two people. This is a game that our family keeps bringing out, time and time again.

Note: I received a copy of the game for review purposes.

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Jenny Bristol is an Editor at GeekDad and a founding Director at GeekMom. She is a lifelong geek who spends her time learning, writing, homeschooling her two wickedly smart kids, losing herself in history, and mastering the art of traveling on a shoestring.