Build up the city and prove you are the best city planner!

 Zoned Out Cover

Zoned Out (2020)
Designer(s) Keith Rentz Artist(s) Jake Blanchard Publisher

Grey Fox Games

2-4 10+ 30-45m

Zoned Out is a city building game where players develop a city and build tall Skyscrapers. Players take turns adding city blocks via cards to the city and placing building pieces as you move on to new sections of the city.  

Zoned Out 1Box and Components

The box is very colorful for this game and certainly stands out very well among other boxes; the components are equally colorful as well. The box has a well fitted insert that separates the cards from the rest of the components, and the smaller bits are in plastic bags to keep it all organized. 

The game has a variety of components that include:

  • 64 City Cards (one is the Downtown card, which should not be shuffled with the rest)
  • 18 Secret Objective Cards
  • 20 Redraw Tokens and 90 VP Tokens
  • Player Components in 4 colors for each player: Pink, Green, Yellow, White
    • 1 Planner Pawn
    • 2 Deed Tokens
    • 45 Building Pieces

The most interesting components are the building pieces; they are made of a nice transparent plastic and allow for other building pieces to be stacked upon them, which is a big part of this game. The City Planners Pawns are made of the same plastic as the buildings and also look nice with their little hard hat. 

The City Cards are square and are broken up into four sections representing different City Zone Types; here are the zone types as shown in the manual. 

Zoned Out Zone Types

Zoned Out 5

The Downtown is placed in the middle of the city at the beginning of the game and divides the city into quadrants. As players develop in these quadrants, they will add to the Skyscrapers in the Downtown area, which will be points at the end of the game. More on this later.

The rest of the components are made of a nice cardstock and chip board. 

Mechanics

Zoned Out 2The start player is whoever has been in a Skyscraper most recently; you can also use your favorite method of selecting a start player as well.

Game Setup

  1. Each player receives 3 random City Card except the first player who receives 2. The rest of the City Cards are placed with in reach of all players to be used throughout the game. 
  2. Each player takes a number of the plastic building pieces based on the number of players (2 players: 45, 3 players: 40, 4 players: 35). 
  3. Zoned Out 6Draw and lay out 4 City Cards and place them in a 2x2 square in the center of the table, placing the parking lots of each card in the center. Take the Downtown tile and place on top of these City Cards in such a way that is covers the four center squares, the parking lots of each card.
  4. Draw six Secret Objective Cards, deal out 1 to each player (2 to each player in a 2 player game), and place the rest face up on the table. The player's secret objectives will remain known only to the owner until the end of the game. 
  5. The first player will select on of the 12 blocks around the Skyscraper card to place their planner pawn and draw a card. (added in red lines to help illustrate the quadrants)

The gameplay from this point is pretty straight forward for each players turn. 

Game Round

  1. Redraw (optional): You may discard any number of your cards placing them back onto the bottom of the deck, and draw that many from the top of the deck. If you perform this action, you must take a Redraw token; Redraw Tokens will be negative points at the end of the game. 
  2. Play a City Card: You play a City Card from your hand to expand the city. There are a number of restrictions for card placement:
    • Must cover 1-3 existing city blocks, but may not cover 4 blocks. 
    • May not cover blocks with plastic buildings on them or blocks that are part of zones currently being developed by another player.
    • May not combine already developed zones. 
  3. Move your Planner: You must move your planner pawn onto one of the blocks on the City Card you just placed. This space can be on a block that expands your current zone or begin a new zone (Residential, Commercial, or Industrial). 
  4. Develop Your Zone (optional): If you moved your Planner to a new zone, you will be able to develop the zone you left. To develop a zone, you will:
    • Place building pieces on all of the zones spaces you are developing, and the number of pieces placed is based on the zone's density (1 piece for light, 2 pieces for medium, and 3 pieces for heavy).
    • Place a building piece on the Downtown square for the quadrant your Planner piece was just removed from. This is adding to the Downtown Skyscrapers and will earn you extra points at the end of the game based on who has the most pieces on each Skyscraper. 
    • Take victory point tokens based on how many squares are in your developed zone. 

Zoned Out VP 

  1. Draw a card: You will end your turn by drawing back up to 3 cards. The next player clockwise goes next.  

Game End

The game ends once a player has played their last building piece or if the draw deck is empty and a player is unable to draw up to 3 cards. Each other player will take one final turn before scoring. 

Zoned Out 4Scoring

  1. Earn points based on the public Goal cards.
  2. Earn points based on all of the Secret Goal cards; all players are able to score off of these cards if they qualify. The secret cards simply provide each player access to secret information to work towards. 
  3. Lose points based on how many of the Redraw Tokens drawn, which ranges from 0 to 45. The exact breakdown of these points can be found below.

Zoned Out Redraw

  1. Earn points based on who has constructed the most floors built in each Skyscraper (must have at least 1 floor built); points are awarded 7/5/3/1. In two player games, the points are 5/1. 

Each player will add up their totals and who ever has the most points is the winner.

Other Notes

Deeds - Each player will receive two deed tokens that is easy to overlook in the rules for what it does; when you place City Cards with the wild Zone Types that you are developing, players use the Deeds token to show ownership of those zones. This is mentioned in the special case, but during setup after reading through the basic rules a couple times, I kept overlooked the mentioned deeds. This probably should have been listed in the Glossary since it is only used in those limited scenarios. 

Running out of building pieces - Something happened in one of our games where we ran out of pieces and still have 7 pieces to lay down. Since the manual doesn't really explain how to handle this scenario, we came up with two thoughts on how to handle this situation. Since it triggers end game when you run out of pieces we thought:

  1. You have to pick which spaces to use the remaining pieces on, which could mean giving up points on the Skyscraper or Zones (include end game secret goals)
  2. You consider all places you need building pieces as having the necessary number and simply substituting in something to mark those places. 

In the the end, I opted for option 1 and selected which spaces would get my 2 building pieces and simply gave up earning points. Since this will be a common thing to happen, it should be explained how to handle those situations. 

Final Thoughts

During our initial game, we were skeptical whether we would like this game or not; I actually got really frustrated trying to find a few specific rules. However, our follow up games went much smoother because we figured out where the rules were in the rulebook, knew what the deed token was for, and understood how building placement worked. I would recommend watching the video Grey Fox Games created for this one; it helps you understand the game initially because I do feel a lot of people who go into the rules blind may be confused because there are a lot of small details that are easy to over look.

Also, the Skyscraper card is really hard to spot once you get a few cards around it; I think it would have made sense to change the design on this card to allow it to be spotted quicker. I think something like a grey empty lot card would work; this would allow the Skyscrapers to colorize the block and allow it to stand out. This is a minor thing. It is something that was difficult in a 2 player game, and I imagine is worse in higher player counts. 

So while I did start these final thoughts off with 2 negatives, once we understood the game, we really did enjoy the game. We ended up playing multiple games in a row because it was fun and quick to play. We haven't had a chance to play this at 3/4 player yet, but I imagine it will be even more fun requiring more strategic choices. The game looks great (minus the Downtown card), and once we can get it in a game shop for demo, I imagine it will be a great game to draw people in. Games like this that have great table presence always seem to draw in non-gamers, and we have been able to introduce quite a few people to the hobby thanks to games like this. 

Yes, there are some minor issues that are easy enough to overcome once you understand the game and can be addressed in a future printing. Do I think it is game worth trying? Absolutely. Do I think you should buy it? Try it first so you understand the steps fully and determine if you like this style of game. I personally will be playing this game again and showing it off to our gaming community in the future. 

Zoned Out Portrait

Links/Media

Zoned Out Board Game Geek Page

Publisher Product Page

Official Zoned Out How to Play Video

Disclosure

We received the product in order to write an honest review; all reviews reflect the honest opinions of the writer.