Underwater Cities: First Impressions

Underwater Cities game rulebook cover

Underwater Cities gameplay overview

A couple of weeks ago I played a game of Underwater Cities for the first time and have some thoughts to share about it. In Underwater Cities, Earth has become overpopulated and humanity needs to expand under the sea. So, you are tasked with designing the best Underwater City!

Underwater Cities is played over the course of three eras with each era being defined by several rounds. During each round, you have three turns where you will choose one of three different actions to take. Each action has a corresponding color that denotes how good it is. Green actions are the wimpiest, red actions are pretty good, and orange actions are the best.

When you take an action, you place a player marker on it, which blocks other players from taking it that round. In addition, you must play a card. If that card matches the color of the action you are taking, you get to use the card. Otherwise, you have to discard it. These cards have an inverse power relationship to the action spots on the board. For example, a green card is the most powerful type of card, even though the green actions are the weakest type of action. It’s very important to be able to pair your card with your action so you can do extra stuff on your turn.

The main point of taking actions and playing cards is to build cities, construct helper buildings and tunnels, and get resources. Cities are these big, cool-looking domes that you get to place on your player board. Your helper buildings include kelp farms and desalination plants that go around your city giving you resources at the end of each era. Resources enable you to construct cities and more helper buildings. Underwater Cities is a pretty complex game and there is a lot more going on than what I’ve described, but this should give you a gist of the gameplay.

Once three eras have passed, you tally up points based on your cities, helper buildings, resources, as well as a few other things. Whoever has the most points wins!

Player count: 1 to 4 players

Playing time: 90 to 120 minutes

Complexity: High

MSRP: $74.99

Link to BoardGameGeek page

Underwater Cities game player board
Look at all of these cool-looking city domes!

First impressions

My favorite part of Underwater Cities is seeing my cities spread across the board. I love how the domes that represent cities look on the table. They are a unique component that I haven’t seen in any other game. It’s also fun to construct the helper buildings and the tunnels that connect cities together. At the end of the game, you end up with quite the thriving little metropolis.

In addition, comboing your actions and cards together on your turn is really neat. Whereas other games might only let you do one thing on your turn, being able to play a card with your action is a nice little bonus. It’s a lot of fun to rack up a bunch of combos as a result of combining certain cards and actions. Plus, at the end of each round, your buildings let you produce loads of resources. As a result, you end up with big piles of kelp, steelplast, and biomatter. All of this makes you feel like you’re accomplishing a lot during the game.

I also enjoy the retro aesthetic of the game. The entire world feels like it was imagined by someone in the 60s of what they thought the future would look like. It has a kooky vibe to it that I think is charming.

Would Underwater Cities be a good addition to my Peaceful Game Series?

You might be wondering if Underwater Cities would be a good addition to my Peaceful Game Series. I think the answer to this question is: maybe. Even though it has somewhat of a dystopian theme, it’s not super obvious during the game. Actually, if I hadn’t read the thematic write-up, I probably wouldn’t have known about it. Moreover, the gameplay is very indirect – you’re primarily focusing on your city and not sabotaging your opponents.

Underwater Cities game main board
I came in a close second with 99 points.

This post is part of my First Impressions series where I discuss my initial thoughts for new tabletop games I have been playing. Click here to read my previous entry in this series: Sunshine City.


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