City of Remnants
In City of Remnants, players take on the role of gang leaders, vying for renown in a city controlled by a powerful alien race called the Yugai. Players will recruit gang members, build and control developments to acquire more recourses as well as attack other gangs in an effort to control more developments and gain even more renown. Every round the Yugai will also randomly patrol the city and players must decide whether to attack them or pay them off. City of Remnants combines many fun and strategic gameplay mechanics together in a very fresh way to make for a game that you’ll bring out again and again.
Rather than give a specific overview of how to set the game up, we want to focus on the elements that make the gameplay unique each time you play! (For a detailed overview we recommend checking out Plaid Hat Games’ how-to-play video in the videos tab or on their site)
First off, there are four different gangs that players can choose from, each with different strengths, weaknesses and play styles. You can either let players choose which gang they want, or draw from them randomly. In general, the red and green gangs have an emphasis on fighting, and the blue and yellow gangs are more about money and development. For example, if you’re playing in a three-player game as the yellow gang, and your opponents are green and red, make sure to increase your defenses!
During setup you’ll also randomly choose three developments (out of six) for each of the three development types that will be purchasable throughout the game. Each development has its own set of special rules that players can take advantage of when they control that development.
Combine the unique play styles of each gang with randomly selected developments that have their own unique abilities and you’ve got a recipe for endless replayability and fun!
Before we dig in, it’s important to talk about the Influence each player has. At the start of the game each player has four Influence. Influence determines how many cards you draw up to for your hand, how many of your gang members you can control during the Move action, how many cards you can play during a battle, and also how much product you can sell. Obviously the more the better in all cases!
Players can have up to seven Influence. In a nod towards video games, you gain Influence by accomplishing achievements. There are five different achievements, so your options are a bit more open, and you can blend the achievements you’re working towards with your play style and the play style of the gang you’re playing. It’s a fresh and fun approach that gives you mini-missions to work towards as you play through the game.
Each player has their own starting deck (10 cards) that is specific to the gang they are playing. Each starting deck is different, but they all contain unit cards and ability cards. The areas to pay attention to are the colored numbers on the left (your attack value), and the card actions in the middle.
To add more cards to your deck you can bid for gang member cards and buy black market cards. This is when you’ll really want to pay attention to the attack value numbers, because you can only use the attack value number that matches your gang color. In general, you’ll rarely acquire a ton of cards, so you’ll be going through your deck a lot during the game.
Gameplay happens over a series of rounds. Each round includes four Phases:
Player Turns Phase
The bulk of the action happens during this phase. Each player gets 4 turns, and during a turn you can perform one action:
- Recruit: Bid for a new gang member card
- Move: Move your gang members figures and resolve attacks
- Production >>> Develop: Developments you control will produce products, and you can buy and place one new development on the board
- Buy: Buy a card from the black market and/or buy renown
- Sell: Sell the products that the developments you control have produced
- Refresh: Discard unwanted cards and draw up to your hand size
There’s a lot to choose from, and the beauty of City of Remnants is there are many ways to go about gaining Renown so you’re not forced into a set strategy. Instead of breaking each one down, we’re just going to talk about movement and production.
Movement Action: You get to move a number of your gang members equal to your influence up to 3 spaces.
Placement is very important, both for offense and defense. You can only have two of your gang members on the same space, but gang members that are adjacent to each other (orthogonally) will act as support during battles. Battles don’t occur until after you’ve moved each gang member, so you’ll have the opportunity to set things up for the ideal attack or the ideal defense. If you end your movement action with one or more gang members on a space that contains an opponent’s gang member(s), a battle begins, and doesn’t end until either the attacker or defender is the last one standing.
Battles are a combination of playing cards from your hand, your draw pile, and rolling attack dice. Both the attacker and defender can lay down a number of cards to use in battle up to their influence. If you don’t want to use all the cards from your hand, you can simply draw from the top of your deck, you just can’t look at what you draw until you’re done laying down your battle cards.
The attacker then reveals his/her cards and notes any battle actions on the cards that apply. Then the defender reveals their cards. Then both players roll a number of battle dice equal to their gang members in the battle space and adjacent to that space. The attack value is added to the dice roll, and the highest attack value wins. The defender wins on a tie.
Battles are a ton of fun, especially since they are a mix of known and unknown elements. Do you play the good cards in your hand, or do you gamble and draw from your deck to try for that great battle card?
Production >>> Develop Action: There are a few spaces on the board that automatically give Renown if you control them, but it’s buying and controlling developments that can really increase how much Renown you’ll get. Developments are also the most effective ways you can gain money. Pay extra attention to developments that give other types of advantages like extra dice during battles, chances to recruit mercenaries for free each round, extra defense, etc.
Developments have colors in the lower left of the card that indicate what color areas they can be placed in. The green cards, which have some of the best perks are also typically the ones you have to place towards the middle of the board… get ready to defend them!
Yugai Patrol Phase
To make things a bit more unstable, after the Player Turns Phase the first player will draw two YCU coordinate cards, randomly draw YCU tokens and place them on the board according to the coordinates on the cards. If one or more tokens ends up on a space with your gang members, then you must choose to either pay them off or attack them. Money can be tight, but there is no risk involved. If you choose to battle, you could lose, and even if you win, you roll an effect die that has a bad effects on a roll of 1-3 or good effects on a roll of 4-6.
Award Renown Phase
This is when you look at all the renown spaces and developments you control and collect your renown.
In City of Remnants the ultimate goal is to gain the most Renown points. There are 200 points worth of Renown tokens. If there are still Renown tokens after this phase, play continues on to the Reset Phase where the first player token gets passed and players can discard and/or refresh their hand and draw deck.
Once the Renown tokens are depleted the game is over, and may the best gang leader win!
The quality of the components is top notch. The design and art just oozes sci-fi in all the right ways. This game definitely takes up a good amount of room on the table, so be prepared for 5-10 minutes of setup time. They could have just included regular d6 for attack dice and one miniature sculpt to use for your gang members on the board, but Plaid Hat Games went above and beyond by creating custom attack dice and four different sculpts for your gang member figures. All of this combines to help you get lost (in a good way!) in the theme and gameplay.
We watched the how-to-play video (26 minutes) and after that only had to refer to the rulebook twice! Teaching others to play is easy. It can seem a bit overwhelming at first with everything on the table, but after a couple turns players have the basics down, and then it’s just fun working on your own strategies to win.
Who would enjoy this game?
Like any game with intense conflict, the game has its emotional highs and lows depending on how well everyone handles defeat, and whether you enjoy direct conflict with other players. Because there are many ways to gain Renown, if battling isn’t your thing, you can focus on other strategies for the win, but make sure you’ve at least got your defenses up!
It’s also a great idea to play at least once as each of the four gangs, so you can get a sense of what strategies you enjoy the most, as well as knowing what you can expect from your opponents. One thing to note is that there is a possible infinite money loop if you’re playing the yellow gang and get the Communication Device cards. Plaid Hat Games has since released an FAQ on their support page which resolves the issue. In the end it’s a minor issue with a simple fix, so definitely check out the FAQ.
There is a great sense of progression through the game as you build up your resources. You’ll start out trying to maximize every action, and then later in the game things open wide as you begin to rake in the money and take more control of the city.
My biggest compliment to City of Remnants is that it’s fun and rewarding the entire time you play, whether you win or lose. The Influence achievements are genius. They give you goals to pursue as you build your gang, developments and resources. Because of that, even if you’re on the losing side of things, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment as you hit each achievement.
City of Remnants is the right mix of gritty sci-fi theme with a fresh take on well loved and new gameplay mechanics. It has plenty of depth to the strategy, and we keep finding ourselves going back for more.
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