How To Play: Underwater Cities – Setup, rule summary and strategy

In summary, Underwater Cities is an engrossing board game that combines strategic city-building, resource management, and tactical decision-making set in an immersive underwater world. With its engaging gameplay mechanics, stunning components, and endless replayability, the game offers a captivating experience for players of all skill levels.

Strategies such as effective resource management, optimal building placement, well-planned tunnel networks, and strategic player interaction are crucial in achieving victory. The game demands careful planning, adaptation to changing situations, and the ability to analyze opponents' moves to gain a competitive edge.

Through the rounds and phases, players navigate a variety of action spaces to construct buildings, produce resources, and gain cards while strategizing to earn victory points. Building an underwater metropolis requires thoughtful decision-making, balancing short-term benefits with long-term strategies.

As the game progresses and the competition heats up, employing advanced techniques, leveraging powerful bonuses, and staying adaptable will be key to success. Tour the depths, conquer rival cities, and optimize your resources to emerge as the undisputed champion of Underwater Cities.

With a blend of depth, replayability, and thrilling gameplay, Underwater Cities guarantees an immersive and satisfying experience for fans of strategic board games. So, gather your resources, chart your course, and embark on an unforgettable journey below the waves!


Welcome to the ultimate strategy guide for Underwater Cities! Whether you’re a novice player or a seasoned gamer, this guide will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the game’s rules and the most effective strategies for conquering the depths and emerging victorious.

Underwater Cities is a captivating board game that challenges players to build and develop their own underwater civilizations. With its engaging gameplay mechanics, stunning components, and endless replayability, this game offers a thrilling and strategic gaming experience that keeps players coming back for more.

In this guide, we will dive into every aspect of the game, starting with an outline of the rules to ensure you have a strong foundation. We will then delve into detailed strategies to master resource management, navigate building placement, plan efficient tunnel networks, and make strategic moves amidst player interaction.

By following these expert strategies and honing your skills, you’ll maximize your chances of success in Underwater Cities. So, grab your diving gear, get ready to construct underwater wonders, and prepare to dominate the deep blue sea!

What’s in the box

  • 1 Game Board
  • 4 Player Boards
  • 180 Building Cards
  • 60 Objective Cards
  • 60 Production Cards
  • 28 Science Tokens
  • 24 Automation Tokens
  • 12 Objective Tokens
  • 4 Reputation Tokens
  • 4 Player Markers
  • 53 Resource Tokens
  • 28 Constructed Building Tokens
  • 18 Tunnel Tokens
  • 1 First Player Token
  • 1 Dice
  • 1 Scorepad
  • 1 Rulebook
  • 1 Player Aid

How To Play Underwater Cities: Rules Summary

1. Setup

  1. Place the game board in the center of the play area.
  2. Give each player a player board, a set of resource tokens, a reputation token, and a player marker.
  3. Shuffle the Building, Objective, and Production cards into separate decks and place them face-down near the game board.
  4. Put Science and Automation tokens near the game board.
  5. Give each player a certain number of Constructed Buildings, Tunnel, and Objective tokens.
  6. Choose a start player who takes the First Player token.

2. Rounds and Phases

  1. The game is played over multiple rounds, each consisting of three phases: Action Planning, Action Execution, and Supply Phase.
  2. In the Action Planning phase, players select and place their workers on available action spaces on the game board.
  3. In the Action Execution phase, starting with the first player and proceeding clockwise, each player takes turns executing their chosen actions.
  4. In the Supply Phase, players gain resources, draw cards, and check for game end conditions.

3. Action Spaces and Actions

  1. Action spaces provide different actions such as constructing buildings, producing resources, or gaining cards.
  2. Players place their workers on available action spaces, and each action can only be chosen once per round.
  3. Actions may require the expenditure of resources, placing tokens, or meeting specific conditions.

4. Building Construction

  1. To construct a building, players need to meet the resource requirements and place a Constructed Building token on an available building slot on their player board.
  2. Buildings provide various benefits, such as resource production, victory points, or special abilities.
  3. Some buildings have adjacency bonuses, so consider the placement of buildings and connect them with tunnels to maximize their effectiveness.

5. Scoring and Game End

  1. Players earn victory points throughout the game by constructing buildings, completing objectives, and meeting specific conditions.
  2. The game ends when a round completes where at least one player has placed all their Constructed Building tokens.
  3. Final scoring takes place, including scoring for completed objectives, unused resources, and tunnel length.
  4. The player with the most victory points is the winner.

With this summary of the rules, you are ready to embark on your underwater city-building adventure in Underwater Cities. Dive in, plan your actions, construct impressive buildings, and strategize your way to victory!

Best Underwater Cities Strategies

Resource Management

In Underwater Cities, effective resource management is crucial to securing victory. Proper allocation and utilization of resources will aid in the swift development and growth of your underwater city. Here are some key strategies to master resource management:

1. Prioritize Production Actions

  1. Focus on actions that generate resources like steel, concrete, and kelp. These are vital for constructing buildings and expanding your city.
  2. Allocate workers to maximize resource production, especially in the early game.

2. Balance Resource Distribution

  1. Avoid hoarding resources excessively. Distribute them across planned buildings to avoid bottlenecks and achieve a smooth expansion.
  2. Consider your future building plans and resource requirements when distributing scarce resources.

3. Plan Strategic Exchanges

  1. Utilize exchange actions wisely to convert excess resources into others that are more immediately useful for your goals.
  2. Keep an eye on the actions chosen by opponents as they may influence the availability and prices of resources.

By effectively managing your resources, you will develop a strong foundation for your underwater city, enabling you to stay ahead. Remember to balance production, distribution, and strategic exchanges throughout the game. With these resource management strategies in mind, you are well on your way to conquering the marine depths of Underwater Cities!

Building Placement

The placement of buildings in Underwater Cities is a crucial aspect of achieving victory. Careful consideration should be given to where and when each building is constructed to strategically optimize your city’s development. Here are key strategies to master building placement:

1. Plan Your City Layout

  1. Consider the adjacency bonuses offered by certain building combinations. Place related buildings close to each other to maximize the benefits gained.
  2. Plan your city expansion with tunnels to connect buildings efficiently and earn additional victory points.

2. Balance Immediate and Long-Term Benefits

  1. Prioritize high-scoring, end-game buildings to secure victory points, but also sprinkle in some early game buildings to provide immediate benefits.
  2. Strategically place resource-generating buildings to ensure a consistent supply of necessary resources.

3. Monitor Opponents’ City Development

  1. Observe and react to your opponents’ city development. Potentially block placement options for crucial buildings that could complement their strategies.
  2. Pay attention to which types of buildings are being constructed by opponents to anticipate actions and potential competition.

By mastering building placement, you gain a strategic advantage in expanding and optimizing your underwater city. Plan your city layout, balance immediate and long-term benefits, and stay aware of your opponents’ moves. With these strategies in mind, your city will thrive and lead you to victory in Underwater Cities!

Action Selection Strategy

In Underwater Cities, selecting the right actions is a key element in creating a successful strategy. Making wise choices during action selection will determine the pace and efficiency of your underwater city’s development. Here are some strategies to consider when selecting actions:

1. Evaluate Available Actions

  1. Assess the potential benefits and long-term impact of each available action before making a decision.
  2. Prioritize actions that align with your overall game plan and objectives.

2. Balance Immediate and Strategic Needs

  1. Weigh the immediate benefits against long-term strategy. Consider actions that offer both immediate gains and help set up future actions.
  2. Strategically reserve valuable actions with limited availability or high competition until they provide the most impact.

3. Utilize Bonus Actions and Board Abilities

  1. Take advantage of bonus actions obtained through buildings or card effects to gain an extra edge.
  2. Consider the unique abilities of your player board and leverage them to maximize your action selection options.

With a well-thought-out action selection strategy, you can efficiently execute your plans and gain a competitive advantage in Underwater Cities. Evaluate the available actions, balance immediate and strategic needs, and leverage bonus actions and board abilities to propel your underwater city to victory!

Tunnel Network Planning

Tunnel network planning is a critical aspect of success in Underwater Cities. Building an efficient network of tunnels will not only enable the expansion of your city but also unlock valuable bonuses and strategic advantages. Here are key strategies for effective tunnel network planning:

1. Create Optimal Pathways

  1. Plan your tunnel network to connect buildings with adjacency bonuses or complementary functions.
  2. Establish efficient pathways to minimize travel distance between buildings and maximize the utilization of connected bonuses.

2. Balance Short and Long Tunnels

  1. Consider both short and long tunnels to create versatile connections that can accommodate future building expansions.
  2. Prioritize the construction of longer strategic tunnels that offer access to remote areas of the board for potential future buildings.

3. Utilize Tunnel Bonuses Strategically

  1. Take advantage of the tunnel bonuses offered by certain combinations of buildings or objectives. Plan your tunnel routes accordingly to obtain these bonuses.
  2. Stay aware of opponents’ tunnel networks and consider blocking or disrupting their pathways to limit their potential advantages.

By strategically planning your tunnel network, you can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your underwater city. Create optimal pathways, balance short and long tunnels, and leverage tunnel bonuses to give yourself a competitive edge. With these tunnel network planning strategies in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the depths of success in Underwater Cities!

Player Interaction

Player interaction is a crucial element in winning in Underwater Cities. How you navigate and respond to the actions and strategies of your opponents can greatly impact your success. Here are key strategies for effective player interaction:

1. Observe Opponents’ Plans

  1. Pay close attention to the actions and buildings chosen by your opponents. This will help you anticipate their strategies and adjust your own plans accordingly.
  2. Identify potential competition for scarce resources or building types and adapt your actions to secure the advantage.

2. Strategic Blocking

  1. Strategically take actions to block or limit your opponents’ choices. Disrupt their planned building placements or resource strategy to slow down their progress.
  2. Manipulate resource availability through exchanges or actions to limit opponents’ access to necessary resources.

3. Balance Cooperation and Competition

  1. Identify opportunities for cooperation that can benefit both you and your opponents. This can build goodwill and potentially dissuade opponents from direct competition.
  2. Maintain a balance between cooperation and calculated competition. Evaluate when it is advantageous to collaborate and when it is necessary to assert your dominance.

Effective player interaction is a key strategy in Underwater Cities. By observing your opponents’ plans, strategically blocking their progress, and balancing cooperation and competition, you can gain an edge and position yourself for victory. Remember, your opponents are not just passive players; they are competition to be understood and challenged. With these player interaction strategies in mind, you’ll be ready to create alliances, spot vulnerabilities, and achieve success in the immersive depths of Underwater Cities!

Conclusion: Conquer the Depths and Embrace Victory!

Congratulations! You have now mastered the strategies and rules of Underwater Cities, equipping yourself with the knowledge and tactics needed to navigate the depths and emerge victorious. By effectively managing resources, strategically placing buildings, planning efficient tunnel networks, interacting with opponents, and following the rules diligently, you are well on your way to becoming an experienced and successful underwater city builder.

As you embark on your unique gaming experiences, remember to adapt your strategies based on gameplay dynamics, seize opportunities to maximize your advantages, and continuously enhance your understanding of the game’s interactions. Each playthrough of Underwater Cities will present new challenges, possibilities, and opportunities for exploration.

Prepare to immerse yourself in the depths of strategic decision-making as you construct breathtaking underwater cities. With your newfound knowledge, inspiration, and passion, conquer the depths, build a thriving civilization, and leave your mark on the underwater world of Underwater Cities.

So gather your fellow players, breathe life into your cities, and dive into the incredible depths that await you. May your strategies be sharp, your choices wise, and your underwater empire flourish!

Want to know what we think of Underwater Cities? Read our detailed review of Underwater Cities here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.