Odd Idea for Hand Management and Area Control Scoring

Complete District Example
I have this odd idea for a scoring mechanic that combines hand management and area control in which each one is as important as the other for maximizing scores. If you'd like to test this out yourself, download PnP tiles here. Here's the gist:

There is a supply of randomly shuffled map tiles. Each tile has an arrangement of streets and four types of districts: PARK, MONUMENT, RESIDENTIAL, and BUSINESS. These would be replaced with icons in a real game.

Draw a random tile and place it in the center of the board. Each player begins with a hand of two tiles. Hands are kept public, visible to all other players.

On your turn, draw a tile into your hand. Then, play a tile from your hand onto the table, adjacent to another tile.

A district is considered complete when it is completely surrounded by continuous street. If a tile completes a district, all players immediately score points in the following manner.

Check if you have icons in your hand matching icons in the completed district. Score ([Number of an icon in the district) x [Number of matching icons in a player's hand]) points.

For example, the tile in outlined yellow has just been placed, completing the district outlined in magenta. All players may now score for this complete district. Here's an example of how you would score.
  • The complete district has 4 PARK, you have one PARK in your hand, so you score 4 points. (4x1)
  • The complete district has 5 BUSINESS, you have two BUSINESS in your hand, so you score 10 points. (5x2)
  • The complete district has 1 RESIDENTIAL, you have three RESIDENTIAL in your hand, so you score 3 points. (1x3)
  • The complete district has 3 MONUMENT, you have no MONUMENT in your hand, so you score 0 points.
In total, you score 17 points this turn.

We playtested this until we went through about half the deck. Score at the time was 76-74 in my favor. I spent much of the game trying to get a hand in which I had at least one of each type of district in my hand, thus scoring a bit when any district was completed. I wasn't always successful, but our scores always stayed suspiciously close.

I fear two cautious players could turtle if they get a pair of complementary four-icon tiles in hand. Scoring would be even every time, too, thus resulting in rather dull play.

I see two courses:
  • Cut hand-size to one tile would reduce the score inflation and cut down on the need for mid-game multiplication. However, that multiplication is probably the one gimmick that makes this more than a standard abstract tile game.
  • Or keep the current hand size and add more one or two more district types. In addition, adjusting the tiles distribution such that it is impossible to have every icon in hand in equal amounts in one hand. I need to guarantee the absence or overabundance of at least one icon. (Preferably both.)

Clearly I lean towards the latter course. We'll see where it ends up!
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.