Martin Wallace is a formidable designer. London is a reprint of the older game of the same name and revolves around building up London while trying to avoid poverty. You do this through card drafting and engine building with some clever touches holding everything together.
You will draft cards from a display with the hope of building an engine with them. You build your engine in stacks covering up old cards and their associated powers. So, why not start multiple stacks? Well stacks are one of the things you must pay for, but we’ll get to that…
Once cards are in your hand, you’ll want to either use them as a cost or play them to a stack. To do this you must discard a card of the same colour and pay any associated costs. Of course, be ready to pay coins as taking a loan is costly. And once you have a few stacks you are going to want to run you city, or engine.
To do this you activate any face up cards at the top of your stacks, in any order. Most will have a cost and some will require flipping once activated. Then you get your poverty. One cube per stack, loans and cards in your hand.
Poverty is taken off your score at the end and so London is all about using your turns efficiently and running your city at the perfect time to gain the most while minimising the penalties. But to do that you need cards and the only way to get cards is to draw them and plenty of them, which of course can put you in a position of needing to run your city and taking the hit.
London is a game of tough decisions and in your first few games you will probably make a load of mistakes but then it starts to click and you intuitively know when you take it easy and when to risk it all.