Zoning Out

A city building game for 1 or more players.



Place the pyramids in the bag. If using multiple bags, sort the pyramids by size and place each size in its own bag. Choose three special scoring rules to play with for the duration of this game. You may draw them out of a hat randomly, or perhaps select three you’d like to try. You are now ready to play.

Game Idea

During the game, you will be drawing random pyramids and adding them to your city’s grid. Pyramids represent different municipal building zones. Red is Residential (“redsidential”), Yellow is Industrial (“industriyellow”), Blue is Commercial (“bluemercial”), and Green is Parks (“green space”). Black pyramids represent certain necessary, but perhaps unpleasant to be next to, facilities such as wastewater treatment plants and city dumps.

Large pyramids are large developments, and smaller ones are smaller. You will be building out your city subject to certain constraints. Generally, you want colors to be grouped together with the exception of the black pieces, which you usually want touching as few pieces as possible. Depending on which scoring rules you’re playing with, these rules of thumb can vary, however.

The scoring rules you choose will have target scores written on them. The sum of all three target scores will determine the score you need to win.

Game Play

Every turn you will:

When you have placed all your pyramids, proceed to scoring your new city.


Scoring is as follows:

Scoring Example In this example game (played using fewer than normal pyramids for illustrative purposes), we would score first the largest groups in each of the four colors: Red = 4, Yellow = 3, Green = 6, and Blue = 2. This would give us 15 points. Then we subtract all the points from black pieces: -2 + -1 + -6 + -6 + -2 + -6 = -23. We get a basic score of -8! Note that two black pieces next to each other both still count against their tallies. After calculating this base score, we would then score the special scoring rules selected for our game.

There is a scoring sheet at the end of this document that you can use for calculating your score.


Though designed as a single player experience, there are a couple ways to play Zoning Out with more than one player.


Play exactly as described above, but take turns drawing and placing pieces.


You will need additional equipment for this mode. You will need player screens (something to hide each player’s city), and you will need additional pyramids: at least 2 trios in the five colors per player. You can have some players use other colors (for example, the “xeno” colors) so long as all players agree on which color correlates to which.

To setup, draw special scoring cards as normal. These will apply to all players, but you will ignore the target score values. Each player should set up all their pieces in a place near to them as a supply. On their turn, a player chooses which piece they wish to play next. All players must then add that same piece type to their city (behind their screen).

Play continues this way until all pieces have been placed. Players score their own city following the usual scoring procedure. Whichever player has the highest valued city is the winner.


APC: Analysis Paralysis Commission

Instead of drawing pieces randomly, shuffle the three sizes separately and lay them out into three lines, one line for each size of piece. During play, you can take the front piece from any line. Warning: playing like this can turn the game into a very think-y puzzle. It can also make the game easier to win, so if you find you are winning too often, you can up the challenge by increasing the target score by a few points whenever you play.

Small City

This variant is good for a quicker, more relaxed game. Play with only 2 trios per color, and with only 2 special scoring rules.

Special Scoring Rules

During your game you will be playing with three of the special scoring rules listed below. For the solo and co-operative game modes, a target score is listed. Your goal is to build a city that scores as much or more than the target scores of all three special scoring rules added together. For convenience, the titles of the rules are also listed in here with links to the rules themselves. To randomly select scoring rules, you could write these titles on slips of paper and draw three from a hat.

15-Minute City Density Bonusing Rainbow Rows
Colorful Columns Overshadowed Little Boxes
Shopping District Linear Park “We Compost”
Garden City Piazzas Canadian Style
Factory Un-fun Lines of Sight Clusters
Bigger on the Outside Mixed-Use Development Room to make a Big Mistake

15-Minute City

4 points for every red piece that is next to a blue, green, and yellow piece.

Target Score: 13

Density Bonusing

-1 point for the total width or height of your city in pyramids, whichever is larger.

Target Score: -4

Rainbow Rows

5 points for every row (relative to player’s view) that has at least one piece in all five colors in it.

Target Score: 15

Colorful Columns

2 points for every column with at least three different colors in it. -3 points for any column that has less than 3 colors in it.

Target Score: 15


For every small piece, -1 point for any large pieces next to it.

Target Score: -5

Little Boxes

3 points for every 2x2 square of red pieces within your city. Squares may overlap.

Target Score: 9

Shopping District

3 points for every 2x2 square of blue pieces within your city. Squares may overlap.

Target Score: 9

Linear Park

1 point for every piece in your longest line (horizontal or vertical) of green pieces. Only contiguous pieces within a single row or column count.

Target Score: 13

“We Compost”

Every black piece next to at least one red piece scores points equal to the black piece’s size. e.g., a large black that is next to one or more reds would score +3 points.

Target Score: 19

Garden City

2 points for every red residential zone next to a green park.

Target Score: 17


1 point for every different color (including black) around any fully enclosed empty space within your city.

Target Score: 23

Canadian Style

When playing with this card, large pieces may be placed adjacent to other large pieces. Score 2 points for every large piece in your biggest group of large pieces, disregarding color.

Target Score: 17

Factory Un-fun

-1 point for every non-yellow piece next to a yellow piece.

Target Score: 4

Lines of Sight

1 point for every row or column with exactly two large pieces in it. -2 points for any row or column with less or more than 2 large pieces in it.

Target Score: 4


3 points for every group consisting exactly of a small, medium, and large of a single color (red, blue, green, or yellow), and no other pieces. -1 point for every group not composed thusly.

Target Score: 9

Bigger on the Outside

2 points for every large piece in the rows and columns farthest to the top and bottom, left and right, respectively.

Target Score: 15

Mixed-Use Development

For this game, you may place a second piece on top of an existing piece when placing. For the purposes of all other rules, these two pieces are considered next to each other (so you may never, for example, place a medium on top of another medium). Both pieces are also considered next to the four spaces orthogonal to their space. For legibility, you should arrange the pieces such that the smaller piece is stacked on top of the larger piece.

Target Score: 7

Room to make a Big Mistake

+1 point for every unoccupied space next to a red piece.

Target Score: 17

Scoring Sheet

You can use this table as a template for calculating your scores:

Residential (red)  
Industrial (yellow)  
Commercial (blue)  
Green space (green)  
Colors SUM  
(Colors - Black) Subtotal  
Scoring Rule #1  
Scoring Rule #2  
Scoring Rule #3  
Scoring Rules SUM  
Scoring Rules Targets SUM