In Housing Crisis you are playing rival estate agents (realtor for my American friends) trying to fill properties as efficiently as possible. A range of housing properties are at your disposal and your job is to hit the capacity of each property exactly, try and monopolise the property to get some bonus points and do this while blocking your opponent.
The game is played by placing one of the two tokens in your hand onto the board with each token numbered to represent the size of the family you are trying to house. There’s a set number of each token so at any point in the game your opponent knows what you can still play.
The giant lever that cranks this game up a notch is that if you score anything but a perfect fit, either over occupying or under occupying a property, you lose points. This means that forcing your opponent to place in a sub-optimal position is almost, if not more important, that getting the big points for yourself. There’s also a subtle little mansion property, a single square property that nets you the points of whoever you play in the space. At first it seems that he best family to put into the mansion is the 5, the biggest points possible or place a single occupant is the best to place, as this gets rid of one of your annoying floating ones. These are both valid strategies but the mansion also switches the order of play allowing for some cunning strategy.
Housing Crisis is a ten minute brain burner; the entire game is a two player puzzle with just enough hidden information and tactics to prevent it becoming solvable. Choosing your action can turn into an agonising decision as you way up the information you know versus what you don’t know. In a bigger grander game this would cause an inordinate amount of analysis paralysis, but Housing Crisis is so small yet perfectly formed that it never leads to much downtime.
It’s not without some minor issues; at the point you place your seventh resident you should know exactly what the remaining optimal moves are for both you and your opponent and in many cases you can already work out who has won. It can also be that a single wrong, or cunning move can win you the game, but both cases these issues are mitigated by the micro game nature, you’re only a couple of minutes away from setting up and starting again. And I still have a problem with Housing Crisis’s theme, it’s just not very exciting but after a couple of games the theme becomes irrelevant, this could easily be an abstract number placing game and I wonder if it’s worth bringing out a vanilla version.
Housing Crisis is a simple yet deep micro game that will get your brain ticking over in just a few minutes. If you’ve got an analytical mind or enjoy logical puzzles like Sudoku then it will be right up your intellectual alley, it’s just a shame about the theme.