Playdom Outdoes Itself with New Facebook Game, City of Wonder

City of WonderDisney-acquired Playdom has outdone itself with a new Facebook app discovered by the folks over at Gamezebo. Called City of Wonder, it’s a game that combines some of the best parts of Playdom’s past titles, as well as socialized mechanics of others.

In short, City of Wonder is a streamlined, very social version, of Civilization, but unlike other titles influenced by the classic Sid Meier PC game, it focuses more on city building, and has a beautiful pattern of game progression. While some may complain that it’s a Civ clone, the truth is, that it feels more a balanced combination of Social City, Civilization, and Facebook social mechanics.

So what is the point of City of Wonder? When starting out, the game is primarily a city builder set somewhere between the Stone and Bronze Ages. The idea is to create a bustling society by growing one’s population in the same manner as one does in Social City. This means that residences are constructed that periodically increase population, and things like décor, markets, and cultural structures must be built to keep happiness up, lest population decrease. Like in its predecessor, if happiness is not kept, population will stagnate, and here, even decline.

Bronze AgeWhat makes this critical is that a high population is needed to reach various milestones in the game (sort of like achievements, which are here too), but more than this, they are required to construct more “Goods Buildings.” This is where minor, “farming” elements come into play as these Goods Buildings create one’s primary income. From farms, to quarries, to vineyards, players use these structures to produce goods for sale. Also, any unclaimed goods will “spoil” if not collected in time (à la Social City contracts). In addition to this, different market buildings such as a grocer or trade depot can be constructed to add periodic income as well.

Most social games would get to this point and call it quits in terms of depth. But in City of Wonder, here is where the Civilization influence comes into play. Yes, it’s fun to decorate a city the way one likes, but now each type of building has a deeper strategy to it. Not all structures are unlocked by mere level gains, but rather require a certain types of research from the statistics of Culture, Trade, or Military.

Aside from the residences, every type of building increases one of these stats. However, many of the better, more advanced versions of these structures require a certain type of research to be done. For a sum of in-game currency (Silver), the player’s society will study some new form of knowledge such as writing, masonry, mysticism, and so on. Each one will take a certain amount of time, with higher level ones taking longer. What determines their “level,” though, is where they are in a technology tree, meaning research on pottery (clay), for example, must be done before masonry can be studied.

ExpeditionsThis earns more than just aesthetic reward, but plays a major role in one of the game’s primary social mechanic called Expeditions. City of Wonder actually has a world map, of sorts, where users can set out and explore other players’ cities. From here, one can not only view another users’ creation, but can consult with their three non-player advisors about the benefits of cultural exchange, trade, or battle (as a side note, these advisors also help the player through the construction of their civilization itself). Unlike Civilization, there are no units that determine the outcome of any of these three actions. In order to win a cultural, trade, or military exchange, the player’s collective buildings must have higher statistics, determined by the type of buildings they build in their civilization, than the other player, and the advisors will let the player know what is their best option.