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.

The benefits of each are great, so no single one is better than the other (assuming all stats have an equal chance of success). If players choose culture, a successful exchange will earn bonus experience. If they choose trade, Silver will be acquired. And if they are feeling aggressive, a successful military attack will garner more populace. Furthermore, and though it is unclear, players can also initiate a “Quick Attack” before exploring a civilization. This appears to be a sort of surprise attack that influences the outcome of battle. Regardless, whatever choice one chooses needs to be a wise one, as only so many expeditions can be made before they have to recharge (about 20 minutes for one).

AdvisorsYou should also be cautious about picking to many fights too, because other players can just as easily start one with you, while you are away, leaving your city in flames. It’s easy enough to repair with just a click, and the game even gives the player a chance to instantly retaliate. That said, there doesn’t seem to be any real detriment to losing, other than a win/loss record.

Allies can also influence results of these three exchanges as well. Like most social games involving any sort of virtual space, friends can be added as neighbors/allies and will occasionally grant bonuses when out on expeditions. In addition to this, the game has a typical visit spur random events that players can “help out” with for some added coin. One slightly new addition, however, is that once allies, both friends will get a free embassy building from that player. Once placed, it will not only increase the populace’s happiness, but that ally can click on it daily for extra monetary rewards.

Friends can also add benefits through gifting as well. Beyond random decorative items, they can also gift NPCs called “Legends.” These include some of history’s biggest names such as Socrates, Pericles, Sacagawea, Hannibal, and so on. Each one will provide a different bonus to things such as military power, income, population, expeditions recharges, and so on. Some require virtual currency (Gold) to buy, – these can also be bought in virtual card packs – some can be bought with Silver, and others can only be gifted. Moreover, there is also a collection book, that grants added reward for collecting sets, such as Legendary artists, tycoons, politicians, etc.

LegendsSocial mechanics also continue in the form of Marvels. These, unsurprisingly, consist of the great Wonders of the World including the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Great Wall of China, and the Colossus at Rhodes. The buildings grant tremendous bonuses to culture, trade, or military might, as well as bonus income when market structures pay out. The catch is that unless one uses Gold, it must be posted to the player’s Facebook wall and friends must help out to build it, gaining a bonus themselves when doing so.

This same concept also comes into play with the expansion of one’s land. While the first increase of real estate just costs silver, subsequent ones require both silver and allies or virtual currency.

Coming down to the last, very cool, features of City of Wonder, is a random loot system. As was already noted, residence and market structures periodically produce more population and income. What makes for a nice bonus, is that every once and a while, players will get a “tribute” from their citizens in the form of a free gift. This could be décor, a building, or even a legend.

Random CityThe biggest part of City of Wonder, however, is its sense of style. Like Social City, the game just feels completely alive with citizens working in fields, tending homes, and even marching parades when happy. More than that, the progression is phenomenal as rather than just unlocking new buildings of the same feel with each level, players progress through the ages of history. Everything that has been talked about thus far has only been from the perspective of the Stone and Bronze Ages, but players can level all the way up to the Modern Age and beyond! It is incredibly gratifying to watch the world grow and change so dramatically. Furthermore, players never have to leave the Age they are in either. Granted, the efficiency is lower as far as population, income, and cultural gains are concerned, but the game is fully functional as a city builder at any Age.

Typically, this is where we would start listing some of the shortcomings with the application. Fact of the matter is, the only, minor complaint to be had with the Playdom title is that players cannot cancel the placement of a structure without exiting the build menu entirely. Other than that, there is only the fact that many may complain about the heavy Civilization influence. Nevertheless, the combination of City of Wonder with that concept, and with one of our top social game picks for 2010, Social City, has created a Facebook title that is a step above the rest. In the end, the game looks great, is highly social, a ton of fun, very addictive, and, of course, free. And there’s not many that can complain about that.

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28 Responses to “Playdom Outdoes Itself with New Facebook Game, City of Wonder”

  1. Walter P. says:

    This review is not positive enough. It is the best game in the history of mankind.

  2. Tim Aste says:

    I am loving this game, first FB game I have thrown down hard cash for out of my own pocket. Great stuff!

  3. DangerBoss says:

    It is all-time best game in facebook. I love this game. Outstanding work by Playdom :)

  4. SidM says:

    Meh.

  5. Patagonia says:

    Deep game. Love it.

  6. figsch says:

    expeditions are refreshed quite quickly, which is good. there are a lot of functions to worry about, providing a bit of depth to an otherwise social city-clone. good traits outnumber bad attributes, but it might be too complex and time-demanding for users to continue playing.

  7. Jack, Has Standards says:

    Wow, I must be playing something different.

    First, how much can you take from the Civilization series before you have to pay Firaxis royalties? The tech levels seem straight out of Civ, incl. the names; but hey, it’s been a long time. But, have they not gone over the edge by appropriating the Wonders of the World as well? (And bonus negative pts for forcing you to post to Facebook to be able to actually complete any of the Wonders…this is so not cool.)

    Second, the more I played, the more I felt my decisions didn’t matter; whichever techs/bldgs, etc., I built moved me along just as fast as any other choices I could have made.

    Three, how many micro achievements can they acknowledge? So many that you sometimes get more than one for the same achievement! Does this not trivialize the game?

    Four, they seem to make poor use of screen space. This puzzles me. I guess they hope you’ll play their other games rather than this one, as they allocate so much screen space to them. The enlarger/shrinker button could use some additional settings.

    Five, the Your Ally Is In Trouble pop-ups! Totally fake and serve no useful game purpose except to annoy the player after the tenth, fiftieth-ninth, and five thousandth time.

    Six, did you not notice the incredibly, INCREDIBLY frequent (FREQUENT!!!) requests for you to ADD MORE ALLIES (spam your friends to join). MY GOD, not even Zynga does it this often! Is this a “feature” or simply insulting to each and every player?

    Seven, CONSTANT MAINTENANCE – how much fun is it to have to regularly(!!!) clean(!) your buildings, click to add population, etc., etc. All, easily automated tasks it forces you to do manually – ALL IN THE SUPREME NAME OF CLICKING IS FUN.

    Positives: Attractive-looking with better illos. than Frontierville. Layout and play makes it look like there’s a lot of game there.

    Fun vs. Tediousness: Some fun to begin with but it’s always shrinking. Score – Not good.

    So, let us award this game the Summer of 2010 Supreme Clicking Activity Award that it so richly deserves. Frontierville, you’ve been outdone.

    And, Playdom, this will do well; it will be interesting to see if it can outMAU one of the very top Zynga games.

  8. Alex Yakovlev says:

    It’s a great game, but I would like you to improve the ‘Attacks’ thing.
    If you attack someone it doesn’t do any damage, it just puts their barracks on fire, the just click on it and they are safe again.

  9. sharon says:

    I was having so much fun with Frontierville and then City of Wonder came along–my favorite game to date on Facebook. I’m a Civilization fanatic and love that there is something like it on Facebook.

  10. jakes says:

    i must say it is a big time thief.

    even though it is fun, wy cant you buy gold for silver. i have no gold and wy do i need allies from my facebook friends and not other players. it is a bit ………

  11. Mel says:

    Can anyone tell me how long the GOODS last ? if i make a 8 hour garden when do they expire?
    also why are there no 12 jobs would be so much help …

  12. himadri dimri says:

    facebook keeps entertaining with these new games. I started playing this game because sorority life(another lovely game-offered a new dress if i reach till level 5 here) .once started now i am feeling almost addicted. nice features,rewards,and a very cool game to play with. Hats off!

  13. ayparcasi says:

    I can not open 12 hours a TIR problem is that this game did not understand that the game does not progress remains at 21% Level 13 Please could you help statement

    Please please please help me urgent

    This article considers what happens I love the game but now I can not play a positive or negative, please e-mail sent to me please? :(:(:(

  14. Playdom & ESPN Launch ESPNU College Town on Facebook says:

    [...] doing what it seems to know best, creating another themed city builder to join both Social City and City of Wonder. Although ESPNU is certainly of a different flavor than the previous two, it’s also [...]

  15. Erik says:

    This game is pure evil; it is virtual crack.

    There is no actual challenge to build a great city. In fact, as you go up in levels, you wind up having to delete your streets and roads, and fill them with buildings to get adequate culture and military power.

    Furthermore, you wind up either completely filling your city with embassies or paying real life money. And as you level up, you still wind up having to delete all diverse buildings and pack your city with high value buildings.

    Horrible game. It is fun in the same way that smoking crack is fun – instant gratification, but no real challenge, interaction or even city building.

  16. Reise says:

    I love that game! I can’t wait reaching the Atomical Age!

  17. Welmar osorio says:

    Its so wonderful,please be my neighbor and add me ass your ally my name is:”welmar osorio”,and help me to build my buildings.

  18. David says:

    I was wondering why no one has *given* me anything lately. They’re all *gifting*!

  19. Will says:

    How can a game with absolutely no in-game interaction with people you know be considered “highly social”? The only contact you have with real people in CoW is the same as many popular FB games, throwing poo on each others’ walls. The only game I’ve tried that I’d actually consider social is Kingdoms of Camelot because it has real time communication.

  20. ariana says:

    The game was fun in the beginning. It was fun to see the Pyramids, etc. Overtime, I ran out of space and had to put a lot of buildings in my inventory. Expanding the city also require tons of real hard earned cash and you only get few space. They started adding some colonies- unfortunately for me, more than a quarter of my allies lost interest in the game and just left their city full of dust.

    I was excited about the new colonies until I realized I can’t even put any of the buildings I have in my inventory.

    This game is a big flop. It’s a total waste of time. It’s a chore- you have to constantly clean buildings and buy new buildings to keep your occupants happy. Also, you can’t explore if you have unhappy residents.

    I suggest if you like this kind of game, try social city. At least there’s a way to clean up the city without costing you an arm and a leg overtime.

  21. ladyimmortal says:

    I dunno – I don’t mind cleaning so much. It only takes about 10 minutes and I’m done (sometimes it doesn’t take that long – 10 mins is what it takes if my comp is slow). You put up some sewers and you can clean whole sections with one click!

    What I don’t like is unlike other games you don’t seem to be able to get free gold bars… except the one you get when you level. That rather sucks…

  22. Julie says:

    how can I build a new ‘good’? frustrated, my stats say that I can, I removed a current ‘good’ and still can’t replace it. about to quit this game. too bad for the creator. did love it!

  23. kevin says:

    Im playing on Google+. I so want to say this game rocks but..The game could be amazing, so much potential, but full of bugs, has no support, and gamers are beter off waiting to play till bugs are fixed and some support is there.

  24. john paul says:

    when im visiting my colony and garison its not loading and the workshop returns back in first recipes.is there any problem in maintenance of (cow) city of wonder.please reply asap

  25. Anon says:

    @Mel
    I think the wait time of goods to spoil is a percent of the

  26. jean says:

    Love this game but can not get allies to play with

  27. Carol says:

    This game is horrible. Playdom does little to keep this game going. On the Playdom website things get worse. Hackers are allowed to score extremely high points. Even when reported for their boastful chats of how they did speed lvling which is impossible and collecting playdom points by the thousands, the team at Playdom will not stop the nonsense. The game Gardens of Time on the Playdom website has been unplayable for many players for an entire week. The screen remains blank except for chat and some posts which many feel are website generated to keep us at Playdom.com. Well you just lost me. I won’t be back.

  28. Shakti says:

    i am xtermely frusrated by City of Wonder Help site it just simply is not good enouhg .. there has bee no update on known issues in fact I think this a[[lication should be removed from Facebook … I am have tried the limited help tips given at this page but no result …. http://support.playdom.com/entries/20444513-what-are-the-known-issues-in-city-of-wonder

    Initally the game was fine now it just has stopped working … half the time it is inactive .. The help page is not good , support is not shared no tips or comments can be made by the people .. it is pocked down e.g for a games that has 50 K useres it seems odd that only 50 have found the above site useful … this is not a well support game reliying on people to submit tickets rather than providing a rnge of clear trouble shooting

    something needs to change with the level and type of support provided by this game !!!!

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