Squaring Circleville Review

25 August 2022
Embark on some town planning in a game that certainly isn’t square

Nostalgia can be debilitating. A fetishization of the past can lead to a life stultified by past glories and stymied by regrets. A little bit though, just a dash sprinkled over your life, can add a warm melancholy that is as reassuring as a bowl of vegetable soup.

One way of tapping into this brand of nostalgia is by playing Squaring Circleville. It is a game that evokes a different time in board gaming. A time when the mechanical clarity of a game wasn’t obscured by gaudy components or diluted by endless content. It is a game that harkens back and while it doesn’t confirm that things were better in the past it reminds you that progress must live with what came before – rather than finding your bathwater has altogether too many babies in it.

In Squaring Circleville players take on the role of town planners seeking to knock the charm out of the eponymous city by transforming its circular streets into a far less beguiling but much more financially prudent grid.

This is done through the use of a rondel. When you place your marker on a space of the rondel you can take the action. Next to every action space is a stack of action markers of varying colours that correspond to the actions in the game. You take the marker from the top of the stack and take that action too. These actions can be punctuated by moving your “supervisor” on the board. Where your supervisor stands is where the actions take effect.

These include ripping up old buildings and roads and when the plot of land is empty, replacing the infrastructure vital to the operation of the new town.

The action markers you take throughout the game are placed into spaces on your player board making your actions, throughout the game, gradually more and more powerful, allowing you to do more and more things.

What is so appealing about Squaring Circleville is that there are many thoroughfares and pathways through the game. The viability of various strategies allows players to change their focus midway through the game if things aren’t working out. Do I stay in one area and do the lion’s share of the renovation thereby garnering the most points or do I hop around the map, helping a little in numerous areas, getting fewer points per area but hoping to net more in the end?

This is one of the most refreshing things in the design is that it is impossible for one player to achieve everything they want on their own and must leverage the self interest of the other players to reach their aims. It shares this with many of the most successful Knizia designs and the manipulation of your fellow players is a fun challenge.

One potential drawback of the game is that the board state has so much potential for change that it makes it resolutely tactical which may upset more strategic players. There can be an element of frustration when your plans are upset just as you were ready to realise them.

There is a real simplicity to its production too which makes it redolent of times past. There is no screen printing or plastic here. The component that is deployed most successfully here is the humble cube. By its simple deployment it can become a road or beautiful fountain in a park. It only takes your imagination to unlock it.

Content continues after advertisements

The real thing that reminds me of earlier Eurogames though is the clarity of design. Matt Wolfe has managed to combine mechanics that offer an experience that is incredibly easy to grasp yet very difficult to be good at. This feels like a game designed in a different era and that is definitely meant as a complement.

Ben Maddox


Feels like a great trip down memory lane though its tactical nature could annoy some players.

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED Stephenson’s Rocket

Want to pick up more of that Knizia vibe? Well, here it is.

Read the full review here


Looking for more?

The front cover of Tabletop Gaming Magazine

This review came from Tabletop Gaming Magazine, which is home to all of the latest and greatest tabletop goodness. Whether you're a board gamer, card gamer, wargamer, RPG player or all of the above, find your copy here.

Get your magazine here

Read More... 

The box art for ARCS by Cole Wehrle

If you want to read more about one of the most hotly anticipated games of the year, check out our interview with Cole Wehrle on ARCS! A new game from the designer of Root and Oath, and we've got all you need to know.

To infinity and beyond


Join us in person

The logo of Tabletop Gaming Live 2022

We can't wait for Tabletop Gaming Live 2022! An epic weekend in Manchester full of board games, card games, roleplaying games, wargames and more, with amazing exhibitors, great games, and an opportunity to game together in person.

See you there!

Treat Yourself! 

Tabletop Gaming Game Store Contains Power Rangers Heroes of the Grid

Have you visited our game store? We have everything from mystery boxes, to games and accessories – including the above Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid, with a great discount! Head over to find your new favourite game.

Visit the Game Store


Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products


No comments