Accessibility TL;DR. Point City is 100% colorblind-friendly and low-vision friendly with vibrant, large iconography. Information is open to all players, so those with barriers can seek assistance from others around the table.
Introduction and Overview
Point City is a card-drafting engine builder designed by Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, and Shawn Stankewich, with graphic design by Dylan Mangini and Shawn Stankewich. It is co-published by Flatout Games and AEG.
In Point City, each player takes a pair of adjacent cards from a 4×4 grid to expand their city. There are two kinds of cards—temporary resources used to purchase buildings and those city structures. The buildings might include permanent resources to support future purchases, victory points, and/or a Civic Structures icon that leads to another draw pile of circular tokens. These tokens provide end-game bonuses, similar to Point Salad.
The turn-by-turn card selection reminded me of Flatout’s 2021 release Cascadia (CBG review). I often found myself choosing between the one great card (plus a dud) or two okay cards, and then thinking ahead to a potential, magical future turn “if everything works out.”
I found the gameplay delightful, with brain-burning tactical decisions each turn along with two-moves-ahead strategic thinking. I enjoyed the classic engine-builder question, similar to Splendor (CBG review): When do I pivot from building this engine to using my engine to score victory points?
Solo Mode. Point City might be my favorite solo mode in any Flatout game. Improving on the conveyor belt mechanism of Calico (CBG review), Cascadia, and Verdant (CBG review), Point City introduces an AI opponent who removes cards from the game and scores them in a similar manner to a human player. Since the AI selects card pairs in a scripted pattern, I have a direct impact on what they choose next. I experienced turns when my best move was not maximizing my own points, but instead taking cards that limited the AI’s ability to score on an upcoming turn. This layer of crunchy decisions was satisfying, and I haven’t yet “cracked the code” after multiple solo plays. I’m excited to keep trying.
As I’ve come to expect from the Flatout Games designers, graphic designers, and illustrators, Point City is excellent in the accessibility department.
Color Vision Accessibility. The vibrant colors are easy to distinguish, and double-coding (triple-coding in some cases) ensures that color recognition is not required to play the game.1 Point City is 100% colorblind-friendly and could be played in black-and-white, which the the “gold standard” of color vision accessibility.
Low Vision Accessibility. All icons are big enough for most player to see different in shape from each other (e.g., the gear and coin, both circles, look quite different). Double-coding supports low-vision players, too; they might be able to see color more easily than shape. Gameplay elements are language-independent, as the English words on the cards are either supplemental (triple-coding resource names) or flavor text (the building names are fun to read but don’t affect gameplay).
Open Information. I am continually learning about accessibility needs and solutions in games, thanks to fellow advocates in this space. Sarah Reed and Will Reed have helped me understand the value of open information. It easier for players to support each other when important game play elements are not hidden. Hidden information includes a personal hand of cards, secret objectives, or dice behind a screen. My own comfort level asking color-related questions increases dramatically in open-information games.
All information in Point Salad is open, which adds to the already-solid accessibility features of the game.
Point City has quickly become one of my favorite games of this type. It plays fast, includes tough tactical and strategic decisions, and adds one of my favorite solo experiences. I highly recommend giving it a try as soon as you can. Point City will be available as a crowdfunding campaign in Spring 2023. You can follow its progress at www.PointCityGame.com.
Disclaimers AND IMAGE CREDITS
- Colorblind Games received a pre-press prototype copy of Point City from the publisher for this review. It is very close to final, but the published version may included a few edits and changes.
- Brian has served as a volunteer playtester and rules editor for several Flatout Games titles, including this one (see About Me for details).
- Image Credits: Box Art: Flatout Games. All Others: Brian Chandler
1 For definitions of double-coding and other accessibility terms, see Colorblind Gaming 101.