Tagline: Diplomacy meets SimCity
The board begins looking something like Catan, but amid the (probably useless) natural resources are a few buildings in residential, commercial, industrial, and monument (political? social?) categories. As you take turns building new features in the city, the city gains points. When the city reaches a certain amount of Victory points, everybody wins, having participated in making this into a Great City.
But winning isn’t enough. Each player has is given a random major goal that will inform them how to get a major victory. The major goal could be a majority of victory points gained by Population, Commerce, Production, or Political power. Sure, that factory that player 3 wants to build would add money to the pool for upgrading the library, but at the expense of the high-population apartments that you want to install. So, vote to only release enough public funding for that player to build a park, which may be a drain on the budget, but has an adjacency bonus that will make apartments much more appealing.
You also have at least one secretly chosen Minor Objective. If you can finish the game with this condition in effect (such as Atheist: no religious buildings on the board, or Maximizer: every building has an adjacency bonus), you receive a slightly higher standing than those who merely participated as pillars of the community.
If the competition gets too hard-headed (everyone being forced to spend money on parks for lack of options), the city could run out of money and go into debt, causing everyone to lose. Play event cards to harm everyone (State mandated tax break, -15% income) or force someone’s hand (Political spending: Must build a monument if it is available). When the other players grant you generous income, embezzle the money: spend it on a cheap park and keep the change to be spent later on a building of your choice. While this will earn you a permanent mark keeping you from attaining the highest victory, it could mean the difference between merely winning and achieving your major goal. Or if the city slips into debt because of your lousy decisions, your name will be marked down as scum in the book of records for all future generations to know that you are a terrible person.
Are you willing to give up your personal glory for the good of the city? Will you sacrifice everything to take down the other glory-hogs? Or is there a happy place in the middle ground?
Maybe the city should have different levels of victory as well, so the more that players sacrifice their personal goals, the better the city in general scores. There would be a book to record the games in to look over in the future. I’ve seen that in other games and never actually followed through with it, but as a game designer, I could try to force the players hand by telling them to begin by naming the city, writing that down in the book and breaking the reluctance of making a permanent change. I also want people to be able to force an ending to the game; cash in your minor goals and keep the other players from getting their major goals, sacrificing the city to be the “winner.” As the city grows, minor goals get harder and harder to achieve. You just can’t sustain those specialist points in a city that big; especially when there is no city related bonus to avoiding a certain type of building.
I’m pretty sure that there is a game with similar gameplay set in Rome. You are all vying for the good of the Republic at the same time as trying to assassinate the other players. If you get too aggressive, the whole government can collapse, but if you are not aggressive enough you can lose to other players. I’ve never played it and can’t remember what it was called; if I ever do play it, that game could serve as a refinement to this game’s inspiration. Or just kill my motivation to replicate something that already exists, but better.— November 24, 2018