Andreas Seyfarth's classic game Manhattan (1994) is a clean game concept combining the “area control” mechanic with the joy of building skyscrapers. While the skyline you can build with the Green Box is not half as impressive as the original, you can still recreate the basic experience, and maybe add a few twists of your own. Play cards to build and score points for what you control.
Sort the tiles in stacks with 6 different symbols in each, and use them to create 6 “cities”. With fewer than 4 players you probably want fewer than 6 cities, and/or fewer than 6 tiles in each city.
Each player gets 20 cubes of one color.
Shuffle the cards, deal 3 to each player and leave the rest in a draw pile.
On your turn, you play one card from your hand allowing you to build on a tile with the corresponding symbol. To build, place one or more of your cubes on the chosen tile, and stack your cubes on top of each other if you think it looks cool.
You can build on any tile with the same symbol as the card you played, and you can place any number of cubes that you wish.
When all cubes have been placed, check to see who has control over the different tiles and cities. “Control” means you have more cubes than anyone else.
Score 1 point for each tile you control, plus 2 points for each city you control. The winner is the player with the most points.
To make the game more similar to the original, introduce scoring in the middle of the game, say after everyone has had 6 turns or after everyone has placed 8 cubes.
To make the game more different, and the scoring more complex, build one megacity as a 6×6 grid at the start. You score points for control over each tile, control over each column and over each row. Or try an 8×4 grid with different scoring for rows and columns.