Rebuilding Main Street and Civic Gaming

Rebuilding Main Street represents a unique kind of board game: rather than positioning players to compete against one another in order to win, it creates a game environment in which a group of players must collaborate in order to succeed together. The game requires players to achieve shared goals, decide how to use scarce resources, and determine collective priorities through deliberation.

The game starts with each of the 10 players being assigned roles in a fictional town. These players are given specific individual objectives to pursue and a specific resource that their role controls. As a group, the players must decide which 5 structures to build on the board from the structure cards they have been dealt. Each structure requires a different combination of resources to build and has unique effects on the four town ratings.

The group’s decisions are complicated by a variety of factors within the game mechanics. Individual and town objectives do not always align. Resources must be pooled to build any one structure, and each structure has different types of effects on the town ratings and surrounding areas that have to be taken into account. Random events have effects on building attempts that cannot be known in advance; die rolls influence the success of the build, its cost, and the types of additional choices that may follow each round of deliberation.

The game is therefore intentionally designed to force the group to make difficult choices in unpredictable circumstances in order to approximate real-world deliberative conditions, which necessitate more nuanced judgment than simple cost-benefit analysis. In order to win the game, the group must successfully build 5 new structures on the board and achieve two additional randomly selected town objectives. As with similar collaborative board games, no individual player can win on their own; the group either wins together or starts the game over and tries again.

History of the Game

Video of RMS

Fall 2018 Study