Publisher: Wizkids
Player Count: 1-5 Players
Dedicated Solo mode: Yes
Game Length: 60-120 Minutes
Complexity 2.75/5

In June of 1889, a fire burned through Seattle’s business district. The city quickly rebuilt on the ashes of the previous establishment with sturdy, brick buildings. The result was a boom in population, quickly establishing Seattle as the largest city in the newly admitted state of Washington.

As city planners in this light/medium weight, eurostyle, economic simulation, it’s your responsibility to oversee this rebuild as well as expand the district with buildings, suburbs and iconic landmarks to appease the growing population and make Seattle better than ever. Rebuilding Seattle employs a polyomino tile laying system where you grow your land area and build it upward. Earn income and prestige through multi-use cards that increase the industries quality and reach.


I’m always game for a good economic simulator and at first glance, Rebuilding Seattle comes across as a toned down, urban version of the contemporary Uwe Rosenburg classic, Feast for Odin. A game I really appreciated, but eventually passed on to someone else thanks in large part to its enormous setup—which is somewhat mirrored here. So while there was plenty of room for optimism, I also had some apprehension when it came to the setup.

The scoring philosophy revolves around finding a balance or synergy between 2 different sets of tracks. The Quality Track gauges the overall quality of the 3 primary industries (entertainment, dining & shopping) while the Amenity Track charts the overall population as well as how each industry is meeting the demand of that population.

The game plays relatively quickly, taking place over 3 rounds, with each round having 4 phases. I found it interesting that while the game looks complex, the rules and rulebook are incredibly simple (despite how convoluted it may sound below).

The majority of the game unfolds in the build phase where you have the opportunity to expand your land area (suburbs) by purchasing a suburb tile and building cards. These building cards are different colors representing 6 different industries (entertainment, dining, shopping, railroad, education and profit [which I assume is some sort of additional investment]). Each building card can be purchased from a market where cards are randomly assigned different costs prior to each round.

Each card provides a polyomino-shaped building tile to place in your district as well as a unique secondary action. These secondary actions do a variety of things including increasing the Quality Track of a specific industry or providing an end-of-round or end-of-game bonus (points or money). Much of the building phases plays out with each player hunting and pecking for the right combination of industry tiles and secondary actions to benefit their strategy.

Players also have the opportunity to enact a law for that round. Laws are unique to each player board and provide a variety of benefit options. You might be able to gain extra cash, but have to lose a point or maybe buy something at a discounted price. These can only be done once per round.

In addition to building, players can activate 1 of 6 event cards that provide bonuses for the active player as well as benefits for all players. It also serves as a timer for the end of the round. One of these benefits is scoring a specific Quality Track. Each Quality Track has a current value. The player receives the benefit (points, money or the opportunity to choose between the 2) depending on the position of that industry in relation to your current population total. Basically, if that industry exceeds the overall population on the Amenity Track you receive the full benefit. Any spots behind the population marker and you subtract that distance from the benefit. With the population increasing each round, it’s tough to keep up and you’re more often only earning a fraction of your Quality Track level’s potential.

At the end of a round, players receive money and points based on certain tiles and end-of-round benefit actions.

At the end of the 3 rounds, the player with the most points (or prestige) is the winner.


Rebuilding Seattle has a dedicated solo mode deck that simulates a second player. While it does its best and is super easy to implement, the experience pales in comparison to a real opponent.


The artwork in the game is limited to the cover and a few special landmark tiles. The game is mainly a well organized, yet somewhat underwhelming series of boxes and minimalistic icons. The graphic design does its job to present the game cleanly and clearly, but there really isn’t anything to get too excited about. As far as components go, the majority is totally acceptable… everything but the endless supply of miniature polyomino tiles. This may be just a personal thing, but these tiny tiles are a pain. While they can be a pain when it comes to placing them on the suburb tiles, the real issue is with setup. The game doesn’t come with an insert, but even if it did, I’m not sure if it would help too much here.


➕ Easy to learn & teach

➕ Plays quickly

➕ Straight forward actions

➕ Zero randomness


➖ Theme doesn’t shine through

➖ Setup is extensive

➖ Rulebook feels like it needs another 2-4 pages to flesh everything out a bit more



Limited player interaction besides hate drafting and activating events at inconvenient moments


Fans looking for a lighter-weight, more introductory economic euro are going to appreciate what Rebuilding Seattle has to offer.


The best thing about Rebuilding Seattle is the dual purpose cards. There are a number of different choices available each round and finding the best fits will be the difference between winning and losing.


As with almost any game, Rebuilding Seattle grew on me with more plays. Understanding an effective strategy and what to expect from the cards helped me appreciate the game more.

I stated in the opening that I am a fan of these economic engine builders. These are typically pretty heavy in nature and I appreciate the lighter, more accessibility approach. The actions are pretty straightforward and shouldn’t take you too long to get comfortable developing a strategy.

I had a couple issues with the game and it started with the setup. This may not be a big deal for some, but it definitely put me on the defensive from the get go. It probably isn’t that rough in reality, but I would have hoped for some alternative to sorting and stacking tiny tiles together for 10-15 minutes. Another of the more glaring issues was the theme. While I believe the designer started with the theme and the game evolved over time, it feels completely lost at times. This is certainly a case where theme integration and personality could help elevate a game. The game as a whole is pretty dry with very little ups and downs. Building out your “engine” never feels that exciting and is more of a slow shuffle toward the end. I appreciate the effort to remove luck from the game, but with that comes very little surprises.

The Quality Track scoring is fairly unique and inspired, but still kind of rubs me the wrong way. While the quality level always shows an “optimal” scoring opportunity, I almost never reached the level in regard to the Amenity Track to unlock its full potential. While I was still gaining big rewards at times, I still felt like I was underperforming by having to subtract points or money from the reward. Again, this is a cool idea, but one that never left me feeling satisfied.

All that being said, I really like the idea of a serious, light/medium weight economic builder. Rebuilding Seattle definitely delivers on some of those heavier, economic game ideas by shrinking them down to better fit the style and audience. I love that you can have this experience in 1-2 hours and feel like you’ve tackled something fairly monumental. Being able to look over the city you built at the end of the game and see where you succeeded and failed is actually satisfying no matter which side of the trophy you were on.

It’s not for everyone, but if you love a dry, cube pushing, economic builder and appreciate a more streamlined game with quicker play time, Rebuilding Seattle might be right up your alley. I think it’s a good value and will be a hit with the right audience.