In the Middle Ages, Italy was divided in countless little kingdoms. Imagine you’re one of those pre-Italian sovereigns ruling your own city-state. This is the theme of the strategic board game La Città.
Expand your cities
La Città obviously means The City in Italian. This is what you start with in the game, your own little cities with three thousand civilians. Your mission is to expand your territory by enriching your cities with theatres, market places, universities, et cetera. The first you have to worry about 'though is feeding your citizens. This means you have to strategically build farms in fertile areas. Otherwise your superfluous people will die of starvation.
The three desires
A little less harsh way of losing people is migration. Citizens can move to your opponents’ cities when they are unsatisfied. The satisfaction is based on three principal desires of mankind: culture, sanity and knowledge. Once a year all citizens gather to decide the most important desire of that year. If you for instance have less statues, convents or fountains (or whatever is important in this particular year) than your opponents, your citizens will migrate.
Watch your neighbours
Quite realistically, this will only happen when cities are situated close to each other. Citizens will only watch the nearby, neighbouring cities. This means you can easily trust the other players, until they come closer. The last becomes inevitable as the game progresses, since the game board is limited in size.
Game of the Year 2000
La Città is a rather new game by German company Kosmos. Immediately after its introduction in 2000, it was awarded the Game of the Year prize in Germany. The maker of the game, German Gerd Fenchel, spent five years on developing La Città. It can be played by 2 to 5 players, but the complexity of the game makes it only suitable for those who are 16 years or older.
La Città reminds me the most of strategic construction games like Civilization, History of the World, Africa 1880 or my ultimate favourite, The Settlers of Catan. Apart from the fact that it is playable with two people already, an important advantage of La Città is that it lasts somewhat shorter than the usual strategic diversions. A fast game can be finished within 45 minutes. Another nice feature is that no dice are used, so the influence of sheer luck is reduced rigorously. My personal verdict on La Città would be 7 points out of 10.