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  • AEG Santa Monica

Santa Monica


In Santa Monica will you choose to create a calm, quiet beach focusing on nature, a bustling beach full of tourists, or something in between?

The rating of this product is 4.5 out of 5

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This drafting/tableau-building game challenges two to four players to assemble the Santa Monica beach and boardwalk. There are tons of ways to score points as you “pick-up and deliver” locals and tourists to fun destinations, collect connected sets of cards, and work to meet variable victory conditions.

The rule book and iconography of Santa Monica is challenging at first, but stick with it and you will discover a game that flows smoothly, with just enough crunch to satisfy seasoned gamers looking for a thematic experience.

From the publisher:

In Santa Monica, you are trying to create the most appealing neighborhood in Southern California. Will you choose to create a calm, quiet beach focusing on nature, a bustling beach full of tourists, or something in between to appeal to the locals?

Each turn, you will draft a feature card from the display to build up either your beach or your street. These features work together to score you victory points. The player with the most points wins!

Game Info

Players: 2-4
Ages: 14+
Setup Time: 10 minutes
Playing Time:  45 minutes

78 Feature Cards
4 Reference Cards
6 Starting Feature Tiles
4 Sand Dollar Tiles
3 Scoring Objective Tiles
30 Locals, 30 Tourists, 8 VIPs
28 Footprint Tokens
25 Sand Dollars & 4 Multipliers
1 Food Truck and 1 Foodie Token
1 Start Player Token
1 Score Pad
1 Rulebook

The rating of this product is 4 out of 5

Brendan Riley |

Santa Monica
designer: Josh Wood (Cat Lady, expansions to Tiny Towns)
artists Brigette Indelicato, Jeremy Nguyen, & Josh Wood
publisher: AEG

Build yourself a boardwalk and a beachfront filled with tourist spots, cute businesses, and radical surfing in this light-to-medium weight tableau builder. In this game for two to four players, you will take cards from a central market and add them to your beach or your street, slowly expanding out from your starting position. As you do, you'll add tourists and locals to the town and move them around to maximize your scoring. Each card you take could add scoring opportunities, contribute to a set (or sets), give you money as well.

Once someone has 14 cards in their tableau, the game ends and you tally your score to find out who built the best Oceanfront in Santa Monica.

A few quick thoughts:
+ The art and components are top notch. The little people tokens are cute, and the sand-dollar currency is thick wooden tokens. the cards are easy to read and understand, too.
- While the large market gives you some flexibility, your scoring opportunities can vary wildly depending on which cards come out in the market. It would also be nice if there were some mechanism for refreshing the market if there are several cards that have not been taken yet.
+ This game is light enough to play quickly and hold a conversation while you do, but has some interesting choices to make throughout the game, and enough different scoring opportunities that you usually have something productive to do on your turn.
- There are two special powers available each game, and these vary from among the eight different options. There are also three different end-game scoring goals. That said, this game feels pretty samey each time, which limits the replayability somewhat. After a couple plays, you will likely feel like you've discovered most of what the game has to offer.

Santa Monica offers a pleasant way to spend the time, a familiar venue for social gameplay, and an easy option for newer gamers.


The rating of this product is 5 out of 5

Juliana |

Santa Monica is a cute, easygoing game that combines tableau building and drafting. It’s fun to build your individual beach and watch tourists flock to the attractions. I recommend it for those who want a relaxed game that allows chatting without losing track of what’s going on.

4.5 stars based on 2 reviews
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