Crazy building fun in Mad City!

Recommended Age:8+
Play Time:20-30 minutes
Contents:1 Wooden Tree, 54 City Tiles, 24 Contractor Tiles, 54 Zoning Scoring Tiles, 6 Player scoring Boards, 1 One Minute Sand Timer, 1 Large Bag, 6 Score Cubes, 1 Rulebook
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Mayfair makes some pretty great games and they have a lot of them. We recently discovered a new favorite for adults and my Gentleman called Mad City. It’s a fun fast paced game of building your city to score the most points but there are a few ways to play making it  a great game for all ages!

Mad City is both challenging and fun and keeps you on your toes. You have 1 minute to create a city using 9 tiles in a 3×3 grid…but of course there is always more to it than that. The goal is to score the most points and in order to do that you want your randomly selected tiles to end up a certain way so that you get as many points as possible for that round per color. Sounds confusing but I’ll explain it all in a minute…which may or may not help.

2014-12-20 18.50.28 copyThe tiles are are stored in and selected from a black velvet on the outside bag and are really well made. All of the pieces are really well made and the box is even pretty sturdy. I like boxes I won’t rip when opening. The tiles, score boards and tokens are all made out of that thicker printed on cardboard that I always say is sturdy…because it is.

They withstand little (excuse me, big kid) hands grabbing, dropping, and sliding them around in excitement and also don’t bend when he sits there concentrating and picking at them without realizing he does it. You can’t really bend them either which is great. The scoring cubes and the tree are all wood which I usually prefer over plastic and somehow makes sense for this particular game. I don’t need to describe a standard sand timer right?

Before I get into the Setup and the how to Play descriptions you should understand that I will only be explaining the Basic version of the game but there is a Standard version which uses the Scoring Tokens and the Contractor tokens. When I describe points and the tree it is all based on the Basic version of the game so rules and many other things will change if you play the Standard version.

There are also adjustments for 2 Player game, adding an extra tile to choose from but still play just the 9, discarding a tile to choose one set out in the middle of the playing area and even 3 different Solitaire versions for those who love challenges! My post would go on far too long if I covered them all so I will stick to the Basic version which is also the best version to play with kids.

2014-12-20 19.41.11-1 copyThe game recommends 8+ but my 6 year old can play and score on his own. He isn’t that fast yet so we give him an extra flip of the timer to set up his city…well we did and then he got faster and better so now he doesn’t get that. Now let’s begin!


Be the first to score 150 points or more (Can also play a shorter game especially when playing with kids)


First put the timer where everyone can see it so no one can say they didn’t…you know to be fair. The Tree needs to be in the middle where everyone has a chance to grab it equally…we have to test this since my husband has longer arms and sometimes I can’t reach. Select your color and grab a Player Board put the Basic Side up and put your Score Cube on the 0 space.

You might want to leave the Tree part out if it is your very first game or you are playing with slightly younger “big kids” until they get the rest of the game. It’s easy enough to add in and learn but easier to learn the base of the game without adding in parts.2014-12-21 14.39.21-1 copy


At the start of each round everyone draws 9 tiles out of the black bag which could be passed around or left in the middle. Keep them face down and pass the stack to the player to your left. When playing with my Gentleman at first we didn’t do this until he started getting better at the game. Either way flip the timer and begin building your city!

Now again when first playing with my Gentleman we flipped the timer a second time to give him more time to figure out where his tiles could go and didn’t use the Tree. As he got better and quicker we removed that second flip and added the Tree back in.

During the 1 minute timer you have to build your city as best you can to score the most points while ending up in a 3×3 grid pattern. 3 across and 3 down in a square so no tiles can be off or anything.

When building your city the tiles do NOT have to match up in any way but you get more points if they do. If you run out of time you have to shuffle the tiles not in place and then randomly place each one in an empty space without rotating it. You probably want to know how to score points now so let me explain.

2014-12-20 19.20.53-2 copyPoints:

There are 5 areas in the game with different colors and some have icons. The Lakes are Deep Blue and the Parks are Green and neither have symbols or matter if you are not using the Tree.

Residential has the Yellow with houses in triangles, Urban is Blue with a city building in a circle and Industrial is Red with a factory in a square. If you create a Zone with a certain color they have to connect. They don’t count if they only connect at corners and cannot be separated by roads.

Yellow: Areas with 1 or 2 buildings score 0 points

  • 3-6 Buildings = 1 point
  • 7-12 Buildings = 3 points
  • 13+ Buildings = 5 points

Red: Areas with 1 building score 0 points

  • 2-5 Buildings = 2 points
  • 6-8 Buildings = 4 points
  • 9+ Buildings = 6 points

Blue: Areas with 1 building score 0 points

  • 2-4 Buildings = 2 points
  • 5-7 Buildings = 5 points
  • 8+ Buildings = 7 points

2014-12-20 19.42.41-4 copyIf you are using the Tree you will score those points first and you can also add in the Longest Road option and score those now too. The Tree gets points for each park or lake you have in your city and more if they connect.

You get points based on the number of building types you have in each Zone and you can get points for having two zones of one color as long as the number of buildings is shown in the Score Chart. So if have two Yellow Zones but one of them only has 2 Buildings then you don’t get points for that one.

The game takes a little getting used to at first but after one round you will have it pretty much figured out and the rest is just spotting things quickly and moving quickly and thinking quickly and not panicking. That last part is key. My Gentleman started with the Basic version and all extras removed but now plays Basic with the Tree and Longest Road.

Mad City is fun fast paced and one my Gentleman’s new favorites. He loves to build things so build a new tile city each round is about his favorite thing ever. It’s great for adults and a really great game to challenge young minds.


“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.”
~ O. Fred Donaldson

Author: sandyz