The City of Gateway is segmented into various themed districts, each with its own culture, population, and history. In the game, we started by identifying some of the more colorful districts and then wondering, “what unique advantage could this district give the power who held it?” We wanted to create a system that incentivized players to go after specific pieces of territory, giving them a choice as to what to liberate at different points in the game. Early on you might need the extra Power Point that Tower City provides, but in the late game SmokeTown’s free Runestones would be too good to pass up.
As the insurgents are fighting anywhere in the city at any given time (navigating through underground tunnels and sewers), any district could potentially serve as a battleground, even those located on opposite sides of the ‘map’. Breaking the districts up into individual game boards allowed us the freedom to use interesting ones from across the city (rather than be set into one specific geographical location), and also introduced the concept of modularity. For a standard two-player game, only four of the provided eight districts are used – they can be either randomly selected or chosen one at a time by the players before the game starts. For a three player game, six are used, etc. Adding additional players simply became a matter of adding additional space to play upon (otherwise it got a weeee bit cramped in initial playtests). The modular design also allows for a simple handicapping system too. Let’s say you’re playing with some younger family members or some more casual players who don’t like their games quite as cutthroat. No problem – add in an additional board and the game gets a little less frantic. By the same token, you can up the ante and decrease the territory the game is played on, making each space all the more competitive.
Districts also add a unique territory-control and role-selection dynamic to the game. The core box ships with eight district boards, each with their own distinct ability. A player can conquer and hold multiple districts at a time (and should, as a key path to victory), but there’s a slight catch – they can only choose to use one of their held district powers every turn. The choice of which district ability to activate can greatly affect not just a single round of play but the outcome of the entire game. Do you sit on Central City and slowly collect Victory Points? Or do you refine your deck by trashing unneeded cards via Harbor Town? Perhaps Drawing an extra card this turn would be more beneficial, or the ability to magically blast opponents from afar? Maybe you don’t actually need those free Runestones from SmokeTown, but by holding it you prevent anyone else from gaining them. The choice is yours to make.
- Central City – a hub of Gateway’s elite and powerful, controlling Central City nets the player 1 Victory Point. While not directly beneficial to play, it does provide a quick path to victory.
- Tower City – holding Tower City grants the player an extra Power Point to use on their turn, allowing for more combos to be played and more wizards to enter their army’s ranks. An all-around useful skill to have.
- Marketown – A bustling hub of trade and commerce, Marketown can provide the player with extra Gold during their turn, allowing for more expensive insurgents and heroes to be drafted into their army. Money maybe can’t buy happiness, but it sure can buy a well-equipped mercenary.
- SmokeTown – The seedy underbelly of SmokeTown is rife with illicit trade, and those in the know can often find goods otherwise marked as illegal contraband. SmokeTown allows the player to gain one Lesser Runestone for free during his turn – a free spell that no one else has access to and he didn’t have to pay for. Potentially devastating to the opposition.
- Canal City – This vibrant port district is where the best deals are to be made, and prices are constantly shifting as each vendor attempts to outsell his neighbor. The player who holds Canal City can draft any card from the supply for 1 Gold less than the written cost. While not a huge savings up front, the continued application of this can net huge returns.
- Fort City – A center for military command, Fort City allows the player to deal 2 damage to any target on the field – be it another insurgent, city guard or Drueggar. While capable of knocking out weaker foes directly, this damage is persistent for the remainder of the turn, so you can weaken stronger foes in advance and then deal the final blow with your main attack.
- Harbor Town – Harbor Town may not be the nicest place around, but if you need to unload unwanted junk, this is the place to do it. Harbor Town allows the player to trash one card from his hand permanently and remove it from the game. This may not sound like a great idea, but if a fellow player has stunk up your army with lots of Irksome Beardfish, or you realize you really don’t need that Merchant anymore, it’s an easy way to get them out of the way and streamline your drawing process.
- The Gardens – A wealthy and affluent area, The Gardens allows the player to draw an extra card on their turn. So if you find out you have some extra Power Points to use, but nothing left in your hand, you can activate The Gardens to provide an extra card – potentially dealing a fateful blow to an opponent.
Best to use your most powerful districts while you can – you never know when an enemy insurgent army will rise up to steal it from you, the city guard marshals to take it back for Gideon, or the monstrous Drueggar will invade. Each round your options can change, so make sure your district ability choices are good ones!
We hope this clarifies more on how the territory aspects of the game work. J Up next, combat!