Kickstart This! #151: Magnate: The First City

Designer: James Naylor

Artists: Cze Lee, James Naylor

Publisher: Naylor Games

Genre/Mechanisms: action points, auction/bidding, city building, dice rolling, economic, modular board, push your luck, simulation, stock holding, tile placement

Funding Status: At the time of this posting, Magnate: The First City already fully-funded. In fact, pledges currently total almost 3x the initial funding goal, with 5 days left to go on the campaign.

Player Count: 1-5

Solo Mode: yes

Complexity: medium-heavy

Risk: high

What It’s About: A property & city-building strategy game that incorporates a big game-ending market crash.

How It Works: “The object of the game is to be the richest player when it ends. The game is played in a series of rounds in which players compete to buy the best plots of land, and develop them into valuable properties. Once players have filled their buildings with rent paying tenants they will sell these properties so they can re-invest their money into even bigger developments. At the end of each round, the property market will change as a result of the players’ actions. Land prices will increase until they become unsustainable. At this point the market will crash and any remaining property will be sold-off for a fraction of their previous value. This crash ends the game.”

Each round is made up of the following 4 phases: 1) Bid for turn order, 2) Attract tenants & collect rent, 3) Player actions, and 4) Property market & end of round. Players start the game with $2 million and 4 advertising tokens.

Bidding for turn order begins with the selected first player at the start of the game, or later in the game, passes to the right of the previous round’s first player. That player may start bidding at 100K or any multiple of 100K or pass. In clockwise order, each player may outbid the previous high bid by at least 100K or pass. Once a player passes, they may not re-enter the bidding phase. Once all players have passed except for the high bidder, the high bidder pays their bid to the bank, claims first player status, and play proceeds to phase two.

During the Attract tenants & collect rents phase, players take turn rolling dice and successfully making pairs or sets of dice that meet the minimum criteria of the tenant they’re attempting to attract. There are also rules determining which tenants are in proximity for attraction, neighbor penalties that are applied, and players can use advertising tokens to alter die rolls. Players can continue attracting tenants for every building they own that has not reached tenant capacity. Finally, they will collect rent paid by each tenant token on their properties, keeping the money and their total wealth a secret.

During player actions, players will take one action in player order, until all players have taken three actions. Players can perform the same action multiple times in the same round. Actions include the following: Buy Land (paying the current land price and removing the For Sale marker; players can also buy land not marked For Sale by paying double the current price), Build/Rebuild (place a building on a piece of land the player owns by paying the price as noted on the player aid), Advertise (gaining 2 advertising tokens from the supply), Consult (gain money from the bank equal to the current land price), and Sell (permanently giving up ownership of a plot of land for a large one-time payment).

The Property Market adjusts based on the results of player actions. If the market does not crash, players add new land and tenants to the game. In later rounds (not the first), risk cards will be added based on the position of the land price slider and if too few advertising tokens were used during the round. If enough advertising tokens were used, the land price slider advances by 1.

Once the market crashes, the land price drop is determined by the cumulative value of all of the risk cards drawn during the game. Remaining properties are then sold using the new post-crash price, and the player with the most money is crowned the winner.

Comparisons: Other famous city-builders include the likes of Keyflower, Quadropolis, Sid Meier’s Civilization, and Suburbia. What makes Magnate: The First City unique is the economic angle, including the bidding, and most importantly, the market crash. Additionally, Brass: Birmingham, Brass: Lancashire, and Terraforming Mars are examples of games with central economic elements that also include territory-building.

What Should I Pledge?:
$69 Basic Pledge: the core Magnate game and all eligible stretch goals.
$89 Tycoon Pledge: the core Magnate game, the Employee card mini-expansion, the Apartment tower mini-expansion, the Blind bidding mini-expansion, and all stretch goals.
$650 Your face on money!: the Tycoon pledge plus your face on the reverse of one banknote type.

$69 additional Core game
$89 additional Tycoon Pledge
$19 Deluxe Money Tray

KS Exclusives:
A 10M Commemorative Bank Note is included in Kickstarter-pledged copies of the game.

All-In Total: Assuming you don’t feel the need to have your face on the back of any banknote types, then in the continental U.S. you’re looking at $89 for the Tycoon Pledge and $20 shipping for a total of $109.

Magnate: The First City completes its Kickstarter on Thursday, December 12th and tentatively ships in October 2020.

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