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Reciprocity... Animosity... or just Point City?

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Point City is a card-drafting engine-building game from Alderac Entertainment Group ( in collaboration with Flatout Games ( It is designed by Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin and Shawn Stankewich and a sequel to their popular game Point Salad. I backed it on Kickstarter (alongside Deep Dive) as I was conscious that our game collection is full of fairly heavy games that take a good chunk of time to play, and wanted something lighter. Let's get reviewing!

The game box front from the game Point City it has a turquoise background with subtle houses and a brightly coloured city scape

15-30 minutes

1-4 players

Ages 10+


To set up, sort the building/resource cards into decks based on their respective tiers (one, two and three. Then shuffle each deck and remove the prescribed number of cards from each pile, placing the removed cards into the game box. This arrangement means that each player will take exactly 17 turns. You then stack the tier decks on top of one another, resource side up with the tier 3 deck on the bottom, the tier two deck on top of it, and the tier one deck on top. Place this combined deck of cards in the centre of the play area to form your draw pile.

Then, draw 16 cards to form the Market. Draw cards one at-a-time, and place them facedown (resource-side up) into a 4 X 4 grid, starting with the top left-most card and proceeding to fill all spaces until the bottom right-most card is placed.

Flip all Civic Tokens facedown and then randomly take the prescribed number of Civic Tokens based on player count, flipping them faceup and placing them in view/reach of all players, returning the remainder to the game box.

An example two-player set up from the game Point City. The 4x4 Market grid is in the middle with the Draw Pile, Civic Tokens and Building/Resource tokens on the left. A starting Ingenuity card is also on the table.

Each player starts with an Ingenuity card in hand, which acts as a wild card for any resource. You have to make sure to include the one with the start player symbol on it, as whoever gets that card is the start player. These are double sided and should for ease be returned to the box once spent.

The rules are simple: players either take two resource cards from the deck, or take two orthogonally adjacent cards from the centre grid. If a card drawn from the grid is resource side up it gets added to their hand of resources and is replaced by a card building side up, and if it is a building card and they have the required resources they add it to their city and it is replaced by a card resource side up.

The two reversible reminder tokens, the left token showing the building reminder , the right showing the resource reminder.

Sometimes it's hard to remember what type of card was drawn from which spot to be replaced, but that's where two handy little double-sided tokens (Resource one side, Building the other) come in. You place them down to indicate what should be placed. Sometimes you might still forget, but it's not the end of the world if you just take the attitude that you are playing a game to have fun and not everything has to be perfect.

Building cards can provide permanent resources, which is where the engine-building comes in. Not all standard building cards have a points value on them, so you find yourself weighing up do I want a card that gives me points straight up or one that gives me a permanent resource. This means that there is more than one path to victory.

Once the draw deck has been depleted, the game ends (the grid at the end should have 14 cards remaining) and players add up their scores, with the player with the highest score being declared the winner. Scores are made up of the combined points values on the Building cards of a player's city plus any Civic Token bonuses.

It is a bit of a table hog with the 4 x 4 grid of cards in the centre of your gameplay area and each player needing space for their city, but I feel that this was at least thought about with the cards being smaller than standard playing card size.

Your choices can directly impact your opponent, which means it doesn't just feel like playing collective solitaire. I think a friend of mine may permanently bear a grudge that not only did I keep taking the cards she was going to take, but once prevented her from getting any Industry building which otherwise would have meant getting six points on the civic card that is scored if you have one resource of each type. Honestly, I just wanted to build two buildings in one turn because I had the required resources... At least she and her hubby did find the game quite addictive, so much so that they were disappointed it is currently only available for pre-order.

Point City could maybe could have done with a token to pass round to indicate whose current turn it is (this would mostly avoid the need to break out the Cone Of Shame from Exploding Kittens...).

The game has a bit of a Machi Koro style in terms of gameplay and illustration. The advantage, in my mind is that it is less dice because … well … dice hate me... There are times however, that like Machi Koro you can end up a bit locked out when you just don't get an engine going. I also found that sometimes, in four-player especially, you end up with a tableau full of Civic cards that nobody can afford and you just take turns drawing from the deck until finally someone can afford something. This could perhaps have been avoided by also having the option of flipping a card back to a resource card if a row or column is all buildings.

One criticism I had was that it doesn't really feel like you are building a city, and in that sense it is one of those games that you could reskin with a different theme. I would have liked some of the buildings to have benefits more than just permanent resources.

An example player city in the game Point City. There is one Civid card, one card which a points value but no permanent resources and a variety of cards with permanent resources

I feel that overall Point City does play well at all multiplayer counts, and suits players of all levels of gaming experience. There is a lot of replayability with the different Civic tokens and variable decks. This means you can play multiple games in one session without getting bored. I have had one play of solo mode. It is the standard of you versus an AI opponent and can be set at varying levels of difficulty. It's is actually pleasantly challenging and tactical trying to balance finding ways to maximise your score whilst trying to minimise the AI's. You set up much the same way as a two-player game. The resource/building tokens are used to track which cards the AI will take, one that moves left to right and one that moves top to bottom, cycling back round. The Civic Tokens are lined up in a row, and if the AI takes a Civic Card they take the token and each one they take will score them points, and depending on the difficulty you set they score from having Ingenuity Cards at the end and scaled points for how many of each Resource type they have, as well as the flat points from cards.


There is the common issue that the box has no room for sleeves. As the card stock is a little thin, sleevers will be frustrated by this. And if a dog jumps up onto the table, you will need to make a mad dash for the cards...

Also, in terms of the cards, there is the option to draw two resource cards from the top of the deck whereby one is 'known' and the second is meant to be 'unknown'. However, in practice unless your deck is perfectly stacked it is very easy to identify the top two cards and the edges have easily identifiable colours even if it is stacked flush. This problem could have been avoided by having a white splash on the edges of every card (like there is on the starting Ingenuity cards).edges have easily identifiable colours even if it is stacked flush. This problem could have been avoided by having a white splash on the edges of every card (like there is on the starting Ingenuity cards).

I liked how the resource cards had text in both orientations so players at opposite sides of a table could still read them. However, the building cards did not reflect this as well, which was a shame. They could have had repeat text still, whilst having the building illustrations one way up.

The rulebook has a fairly sensible font size and is easy to read and understand. I like that a set up card is included so you don't have to open the rulebook every time to check how many cards of each tier are needed for a given player count.

The artwork by Dylan Mangini has a consistent style throughout. It is simple and vibrant meaning that children and adults alike will find it inviting. It certainly put a smile on my face looking through the different building cards.


A d6 die face showing four pips, each pip the head of the Diary of A Lincoln Geek mascot Ink the Imp

Point City is a lovely, simple, card-based engine building game that is easy to learn and quick to play, and would work nicely as an introductory game to the board/card gaming hobby, especially for getting people used to engine-building. I will definitely play it many more times with the hubby and various friend groups. I would have perhaps liked a bit more depth for it to really feel like you are building your own city, but that said it's nice to have a game in my collection that's not super heavy and thinky. 4/6

Your resident Word-nerd Sueyzanne


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