Complete Guide to Between Two Cities (Set-Up, How to Play, Strategy & More)


Between Two Cities is a board game has been designed by Ben Rosset and Matthew O’Malley. The game is a tile game, which requires the players to build two different cities – each player is positioned “Between Two Cities”.

The game has a playing time of around 30 minutes and includes 3-7 players at a time.  The game can also be played with a minimum of two players and also has a solo model that uses 23 specific cards designed by Morten Monrad Pedersen – these 23 cards are called Automa cards.  

How to Play Between Two Cities

Between Two Cities is not a difficult board game to play. It is quite simple and yet is still a fun. The rule of the game is that each player has to construct two 4×4 tiles cities, which will be made out of various kinds of tiles (which represent buildings in your city).

For each kind of building a player builds there will be assigned points.  The points will vary according to the type of each building and its location within the city.

What Makes Between Two Cities Unique – the players do not build the cities of their own. The cities are built between two players.

The neighboring players of the game work together in constructing the city between the players.  At the end of the game each player will claim ownership of this city.  During the course of the game each player will be working with two different players to construct two different cities.

Between Two Cities Game Set Up

The sitting arrangement of the game is interesting as the positions of the players are selected by a random category card. The card may say anything; from alphabetical city of birth place or shoe size; and everyone sits accordingly. However, it is not mandatory that you sit in accordance to the orders of the card but if you follow the card then your game will have that additional touch of fun and frolic.  

After the sitting arrangement is sorted out, one City token is placed between each player.  The token indicates the place where the city will be built between the two players. There is a matching City token that will be placed on the scoreboard.   

Lastly, the building tiles are shuffled and placed in a face-down position beside the scoreboard. 

Playing Between Two Cities 

Between Two Cities is played in three building phases.  

First Round 

At the beginning of the first round, each player has to draw seven single building tiles to form their hands.  Each player selects two tiles to start the game. The remaining five tiles are then left for the player to their left under the City token. This positioning of tiles indicates that the player is ready for the next step. 

After every player has selected the two tiles they need to start the game with, they show it to the other players. The next strategy is to place a building tile to your left and to your right in order to build two great cities.  

This city construction is done by discussing with your neighboring players as to which building works best for both of you.  At the same time, your neighboring opponents also have two tiles that they need to place as well.

After the tiles are successfully placed in each city the process is repeated by using the 5 tiles that were passed to you.  This will continue until the last play in which each player will choose two tiles to keep and one tile to discard from the game. 

Important to Note – During the first round keep in mind that the tiles have to be placed in a way so that the final city forms a 4×4 square.   At the end of this round, there will be six building tiles in each city.  Keep room in your city to place two duplexes in the second round.

Second Round 

When the second round begins, the players draw 3 duplex building tiles and then they must choose 2 tiles with which they will play. Like the first round, when everyone has selected the 2 tiles they will be playing, they reveal the tiles to the other players.

Again, players can discuss with their neighboring players about which tile is best for the city and where they can place it within the city.  One duplex tile has to be placed in each city, and your neighboring players will also be placing a duplex in these cities too. The city will thus gain two duplex city tiles at the end of this round.

The duplex tiles are like 2 building tiles which are connected to each other.  Some of the duplexes have a vertical orientation and others have a horizontal orientation.

The players should keep in mind that the orientation must not exceed the 4*4 limits of the city.  

Third Round 

The third round is similar to the first round with one exception. The extra tiles during this round will be passed to the players on your left this time. When the third round ends, all of the cities will have 16 buildings (12 individual building tiles and 2 duplex building tiles) that will form a 4×4 square.  

The Scoring of the Game

The game is over when all the cities have been built and now the players can start to calculate the score of each city. The corresponding city token on the scorecard is moved accordingly.  The scores are then tallied to determine who the winner is.  

The winning rule of the board game Between Two Cities is quite interesting. The rule is not that the highest scorer wins.  In this game, the person who scores the ”HIGHEST LOW SCORE” wins.  In other words:

Everyone’s 2nd City Counts Towards Their Final Score

So, if your best city is worth 89 points and your second city is worth 76 points, then your final score is 76 points.

Reason Between Two Cities is Popular 

Board games are always fun and Between Two Cities is not any exception. The first reason the game has been so well received is because it incorporates a unique tile layering game that bot only requires strategy and concentration, but also competitor cooperation in order to win.

Secondly, Between Two Cities also allows you to participate in the design of your own city and it is surprisingly pleasing to see your creation come to life during the game play. 

Additionally you are working on two different cities with two different people. This may seem to be an impossible at first, but as you get engaged in the game it turns into a simple and enjoyable activity.

Between Two Cities Strategy

Between Two Cities requires a mixture of strategy, technique, and guess work in order to find success.

The first few moves are simply guess work because you have to develop some symbiosis with your neighbors.  There is really no way to know what building tiles your neighbors are going to choose – so you just need to develop a plan early on.

The techniques to consider are that during first round you are passing tiles to your right, so it is beneficial to pass tiles to your partner on the right that help your combined city.  Conversely, in round three use the same technique with your city, and partner to your left.

The strategy is utilized when selecting tiles on your turn.  The obvious choice is to select tiles that will mutually benefit each city and this is certainly a choice that needs to be considered more often than not – and because your lower scoring city counts toward your final score you cannot sabotage one city for the benefit of the other.

Another strategic move is to pay attention to the other cities that are being built and take tiles on your turn that would greatly help their cities.  This strategy may not greatly increase your cities total scores, but they may slow your other opponents from building monster cities.

Be careful though, because you don’t want to adversely affect your own two cities while being a saboteur and your partners my ask, “What were thinking?  I specifically passed you the Office!  We needed the office!” 

This is the delicate strategic balance within the game – Between Two Cities

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