Monday, October 20, 2014

Machi Koro - A City in Review

Hi everybody!

Well, I just received my copy of Machi Koro last week and was dying to jump in and do a review. You know, strike while the iron is hot sort of thing. Machi Koro by Masao Suganuma is a city building card game for 2-4 players that takes around 30 minutes to play. After a little delay it is finally out in the states, so let's see how it stacks up.
The Crowded Cityscape of Machi Koro
Machi Koro has a fairly simple setup. Each player receives a Wheat Field and a Bakery to begin their rural towns with as well as 4 structures that are currently under construction, such as the Train Station and Shopping Mall. All of the other cards are taken out of the box and arranged in piles from lowest die roll to highest (this number is at the top of the cards) and then play begins. The active player takes a 6-sided die and rolls it, the number shown on the die indicates what buildings in the players towns will activate. Red buildings steal money from other players and activate first, Blue and Green activate next and they take coins from the bank except for all players' Blue cards become active during other players' turns, and lastly the Purple cards activate which steal money from other players if that person is the active player.
Player's Starting Town
After the die roll, each eligible building is activated and players obtain the money they are owed. Then the active player may either buy 1 building from the reserve or construct one of his 4 under construction buildings. The goal of the game is to the first player to construct the 4 buildings; Train Station, Shopping Mall, Amusement Park, and Radio Tower. This signifies that you have built the best city and have become the best mayor. Once a person has built their last construction the game is over and they win.

Machi Koro is an extremely light game. There isn't much to the gameplay or the rules. I've read the rules in around 3 minutes, set it up in a minute or so, and explained the rules in another couple of minutes. Despite the ease of play, Machi Koro offers some good variety. The game contains 11 types of cards with their own abilities and die roll threshold, if it was bought at a brick and mortar store the game also comes with the Gaming Mega Store building. The thing is the shear number of buildings makes it so devising a typical strategy is hard to do. Each game will find you buying different things in order to get the maximum money turn you can. Our first games 4s were the most common roll, so to capitalize on that the cards with 4s as the threshold sold out ultra fast, but things with 3s or 5s were barely touched. In another game that might not be the case.
The Reserve

I really enjoy the fast play of the game and it sort of circumvents players that suffer from analysis paralysis. I also enjoy the artwork for it. It is very simplistic and it feels like if South Park and a Zynga flash game had a baby this is what it would look like. The components are also pretty solid. The cards are plastic with a nice quality to them and the dice are chunky and good to roll. The coins in the game have a slightly odd feel to them, but that could just be me as I struggled to pick them up and instead opted to slide them everywhere.

The one complaint I have is that maybe Machi Koro is a bit too simplistic. There isn't enough meat here despite it being entertaining. This may change as there are two upcoming expansions for the game coming out - the first is Harbor, which according to Cool Stuff Inc is slated for a Halloween release, and the second is Sharp which has no definitive street date yet. This does lead me into a discussion about the box insert. I think the insert is fantastic, but incredibly roomy. They certainly left a lot of room to pack in more cards, dice, and counters. I hope that with the additions they make to the game they also add some more meat and a touch of complexity.
Cards and Bits

Now as far as a recommendation goes I am sort of torn. I do like the game, don't get me wrong, but it clearly isn't for everyone.

I recommend the game mostly for gamers with children that want to get involved with game playing as well as people that are new to the hobby. This is a great game to learn the flow and style of city building as well as shared actions. The game is fast to play which means that a few games can take up a small amount of time and can make it a hit. I also recommend it as a filler game. It is a great warm up or cool down game for a gaming session that will contain some larger and more thinky games.

For more experienced gamers or players I can't really recommend it. If you are like me, you will find it a bit lacking. That being said though, I personally enjoy the game and rated it 5.5 on BGG. I also preordered the Harbor expansion in hopes that it adds some more depth to the game as well as variety. Once again though, it is a nice filler game. We played Machi Koro earlier today after a few plays of Enigma and it really helped. Enigma really boiled our brains at points and Machi Koro was a great after game to help snap us out of the malfunction our brains were feeling.

Thank you all again for reading Daemonic Teutonic. As always, I hope you enjoyed the review.

Cheers,
Phil

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