Everything You Need to Know About Capital City

Capital City game by Calliope Games

Everything You Need to Know About Capital City

Howdy, partner! Today we’re going to learn all about the rootinest tootinest game ‘round these parts! Capital City, designed by James Ernest (12 Days, Lords of Vegas) was part of Wave 2 of the Titan Series, coming out alongside Shutterbug and Ancestree. There are actually a fair amount of mechanics in this game: bidding, drafting, resource management, but we like to call Capital City, “Baby’s First Engine Builder.” Unlike games such as ShipShape where the rounds reset, in Capital City you feel like you’re building a real town throughout the year, with each season bringing new buildings and new city folk.

Capital City box and components

Our Quick Start guide for this one might seem a bit longer than usual, but don’t let that deter you! Capital City is just as easy to learn and play as the rest of the Calliope line up, and incredible intuitive. There’s just a couple extra steps. At its core: Capital City is about matching characters to building indicated by the three types of symbols that connect them: Stars, Gears, and Hearts. So every round (represented by Seasons), you’ll bid money for what order you get to go in, select a Character who arrived in the train, purchase a building, and then connect a character to a building and activate their power. That doesn’t seem so bad, does it? Well then let’s get started!

How to Play

Quick Start Guide

Capital City Game Setup

In the center of the table, place the Building deck, the Character deck (see rulebook for how many families to use based on number of players), Season deck (with Spring on top, followed by Summer, Fall, and Winter), and Priority deck (use a number of cards equal to the number of players, with the cards set in descending order). Give every player $10 in starting money, and then randomly give each player one Character card as their town’s founder.

Capital City Gameplay

Each season has 6 parts to it:

Setup: The town needs a main street and a train of passengers! Follow the instructions of each season to determine how many of each card to set out. For Main Street, set the Building cards out in the middle of the table. For the Train, draw a number of character cards equal to the number of players plus one, and place them face down on the table, so players can see the color of the card (the family), but not the exact character.

Auction: Each player will bid with their coins to not have to take the top Priority card (which is always the highest number card and thus, the lowest priority). If you don’t want to bid anymore, you can take the top card, and all the coins in the pot. Continue until all Priority cards are taken.

Capital City Gameplay: Choose Characters and Purchase Buildings

Choose Characters: Starting with Priority 1, players will look at the Characters on the Train, pick one, and put it facedown on the table. Continue in priority order until all players have chosen a Character (the last player will discard the unchosen Character).

Purchase Buildings: Starting with Priority 1, players can choose to purchase one Main Street building by paying the price on the deed at the bottom of the card. If you choose not to purchase a building, you collect $5. Any unpurchased buildings are discarded at the end of the round.

Capital City Gameplay: Attach and Activate

Attach and Activate: This step happens in reverse priority order. Players may attach  their Characters to one of their Buildings by matching the symbols on the cards (Stars, Gears, and Hearts). You can attach (or not) in any order, but you must announce it and do it one at a time.

When a character attaches, they activate, meaning they can use the power of the building and gain Victory Points or money (as long as all character slots are full).

When a character activates, the current player can activate all their characters from the same family (card color), and every other player can activate one of their characters from the same family. (This is why it’s so important to announce and attach one at a time)

Capital City gameplay final score

Reset: After the last Priority player has placed their last Character, it’s time to set up for the next season! Leave your Buildings and Characters as they are, but return the Priority cards to the middle in descending order, and advance to the next Season. Now it’s time for the next Train and Main Street!

 End of Game
At the end of the Winter round, convert all cash to Victory Points at a rate of $10 to 1 Victory Point. The Player with the most points, wins!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a 2-Player version of the game?
Not currently. But seeing the response to some of our game variants for other games, it’s not completely outside the realm of possibility! If this is something you really want to see, let us know!

If the Priority #1 player has a lot of money, can they purchase multiple buildings to disadvantage other players?
Excellent strategy, but no. You can only buy one building per season.

This game ends too fast! What can we do
Such a wonderful problem to have, when you’re just not done playing the game yet. We’re working on some fun gameplay variants for this, but in the meantime, we recommend building your town over 2 years! Reset the seasons deck and just keep going!

 Any strategy suggestions?
Sure! Play around with priority number; remember that if you’re the first to place your characters, they might activate more often. In seasons with multiple trains coming to town, do your best to keep as much money as possible. Lastly, when given a choice between money and Victory Points, go for the points.

Reviews and Playthroughs

The Dice Tower- Video Overview and Review by Tom Vasel
Gaming with Sidekicks– Written Review
SAHM Reviews- Written Review

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