This is a strategy primer for Suburbia, by Ted Alspach. This only specifically covers the base game. Check out the video version immediately below or the text version that follows.
In Suburbia, your goal is to build up 3 locations to best play your investment markers. The game can be broken down into an Early Game, which is when you go through the A stack of tiles, the Middle Game, which is the B stack of tiles, and the Late Game is the C stack. You usually want to build up a good Income base in the early game, then switch over to a focus on Reputation in the middle game, then finish it off with getting Population any way you can in the late game.
High Level Strategies
The three high-level strategies I recommend are Residential (with Civic and Schools), Industrial (with Airports), and Commercial (with Condominiums). Choosing which one you use will depend almost completely on the goals you get because completing those goals will be extremely important when you’re calculating your final score. The only goal not worth achieving is the Fewest Investment Markers. Next, I will go through the 3 best strategies I have found, discussing the ideal borough layout for each one along with a walk-through of what you want from each stack.
First Investment Marker: Landfill, Farm, or Mint
Second Investment Marker: Stadium
Third Investment Marker: University or Museum
Critical Tiles: Casino, Stadium
Goals: Most Residential, Most Civic, Most Contiguous Civic, Least Income, Fewest Industrial, Highest Reputation, Most Lakes, Most Contiguous Lakes
Stack A: You will want a lake on each side of your Heavy Factory and Community Park. Start building a residential circle with any Homeowner’s Association tiles that appear. The Mint can also help give you a boost of 3 Income early and then $2 every time you build a new Civic building, which will help for all your schools. Although the money from the two lakes and possible Mint will help, you’ll still need to get either Industry or Commercial tiles to gain income, probably in the form of Fast Food Restaurant, Landfill, and/or Farm. You need to get some cash to buy some critical tiles that are coming up in stack B.
Stack B: You badly need the Stadium and the Casino in this one. A museum will be very nice as well. You are continuing to build your circle of residentials to go around the Stadium. You can also build a circle of civic tiles to go around a Museum. You will be grabbing any school you see, so you should have plenty of civic tiles. You can use Burg Von Alspach in the center of your residential circle if you are unable to get a Stadium.
Stack C: University, High School, and Middle School will be very nice additions to your borough, but others are decent too, like the Boutique and Bed & Breakfast. If you have been building schools, everyone will want that University tile when it drops, so make sure you can afford to grab it for $25, if needed.
First Investment Marker: Municipal Airport
Second Investment Marker: Community Park
Third Investment Marker: Recycling Plant
Critical Tiles: Recycling Plant
Goals: Most Industrial, Most Airports, Fewest Lakes, Most Money, Most Reputation, Fewest Commercial, Fewest Residential
The airport part of the strategy is great because it gives you what you need when you need it. It gives you Income with the stack A airports, then adds Reputation in the stack B airports, and both in the stack C airports. Even if you don’t end up with 3+ airports by the end of the game, they will still help you, plus, other people buying them can help you as well, so you can benefit from them without even spending one of your turns on it. The Recycling Plant is extremely critical to this strategy as a source of Reputation.
Stack A: Municipal Airports are the most important in the A stack, but you can also grab Heavy Factory and Community Park. You can build an oval of Industrial for a future Recycling Center and Community Park. Go ahead and throw down an Investment Marker on the Municipal Airport right away so you can take advantage of its bonus throughout the whole game as it will keep growing with airports in every stack.
Stack B: Domestic Airports are the most important B tiles, but Power Station and Casino are also very good.The Recycling Plant is so critical to this strategy that you will want to make sure you have $27 saved up as soon as the first C tile hits the table so you can buy it immediately.
Stack C: You need the Recycling Plant. The PR Firm and International Airport are both exceptional as well. The Local EPA Office is decent, and the University will likely be very lucrative if someone else has been building schools.
First Investment Marker: Community Park
Second Investment Marker: Office Building
Third Investment Marker: Condominium
Critical Tiles: PR Firm, Condominium
Goals: Most Commercial, Most Money, Most Income, Least Reputation, Fewest Civic, Fewest Industrial, Highest Income, Fewest Lakes
This one will get you started with some high Income tiles, build up a lot of cash, and then cap it off with Population boosters at the end. It’s hard to get a lot of Reputation in the end game with this strategy so, if you fall behind in Population, you won’t be able to easily catch up. Because of this, you will want to keep your Reputation above 0 by buying a Community Park and/or putting an early Investment Marker on your starting Community Park so you can make some steady progress in Population throughout the game. It is also possible to splash in some airports or even switch over to residential midway through if you can grab a Stadium since you will be building Condominiums and Apartments anyway.
You will want to choose once side of your starting tiles to build on and the other side will not be used, except for maybe utilizing the other edge of you starting Community Park or building Housing Projects. There are a lot of Commercial tiles that give you bonuses for adjacent Commercial tiles, so you’ll want to build a large oval instead of a small circle so you can clump more of your Commercial tiles together.
Stack A: Get Business Supply Stores and Office Buildings to start building your commercial oval. Feel free to create a lake on the side opposite your commercial oval because you’ll be able to use that as a barrier for Housing Projects later anyway. You can also put an Investment Marker on your starting Community Park and/or an Office Building.
Stack B: This is the only strategy where you can skip the Casino because you will have no money trouble and the negative 3 Reputation will hurt you too much, but the PR Firm will be extremely critical because Reputation will be hard to get. Your Income and cash options will allow you to buy it as soon as it drops. You can also get Housing Projects if you have a spot for it.
Stack C: You need that PR Firm because you will be greatly boosting your Population and will want to avoid hitting -5 Reputation. You will want to grab any Apartments and Condominium tiles that appear to go into your commercial oval. A Chip Fabrication Plant is nice, but they are expensive. You could also grab the University or International Airport tiles to get Reputation for another player’s airport or school-building efforts.