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John Kanady
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City is a fun little city building game that was written by Masao Suganuma and published by IDW Games and Pandasaurus Games in 2016. It is built for 2-5 players and runs at about 30 minutes per game. In essence, it is the second edition to the original Machi Koro and its expansions. With this in mind, let's take a deeper look at this game!

Components:
Ok so starting out with the components I need to note that while the box is fantastic (as with all games from this company are), that's about the only component that earns a 10 out of 10 rating for me. The insert in this is a lot cheaper and not as organized as the original Machi Koro, replacing the plastic organizer that has a spot for everything with a cardboard insert that while is just the right size for the cards, is super messy in regards of holding the coins and dice. The cards and and coins for this one are definitely cheaper and thinner meaning that sleeves are definitely recommended to help prolong their shelf life. That said, I enjoy the extra die and the cards are well designed, being both visually appealing and easy to read. Overall, the components are serviceable but disappointing. It's hard for me not to compare to the original as the price seems to be about the same for lesser quality. So with that I'd say I'd give the components a 5/10. The box and card design really keep this up for me.

Gameplay:
So the gameplay for this is fairly straightforward. You setup the game by dividing components as instructed, giving each player a home row of objective cards (each with the same buildings), shuffle the three remaining decks separately as instructed and reveal until you have the required number of different buildings per row. Then players take their turns. The turns go as follows: Roll die (or dice), trigger the buildings abilities (red first, blue/green second, and then purple), buy a building, pass the dice. The first person to have built all the buildings on their home row wins. Now it's important to note that you can purchase or build whatever you want, in any order you want, as long as you have the coins. This means you can build an airport before a harbor. This personally, is a big deal as each card on your home row has a different ability. Also, buying multiple buildings of one type (minus purple cards as you can only buy one of each) is definitely worth doing as the abilities stack (i.e. having three separate wheat fields will earn you 3 coins every time someone rolls a 1). This is pretty much all there is to the rules, and honestly, that's the beauty of it all. There's not much to distract from the gameplay as everything is streamlined to a fault. The only real strategy that comes in with this game comes from what you want to bank on as your source of income. Do you go after the red cards and steal from your opponents? Do you buy various buildings to help increase the odds of you earning on each turn? Or do you bank on one number with 4 copies of one building, looking for the big payday? And for me, this really works. Yeah there's a lot of luck involved, but in a gateway game, this is a really good thing in my opinion. Overall, I'd give the gameplay an 8/10

Replay Value:
Now this game holds a different kind of replay from the original Machi Koro. If we're just comparing base sets (meaning no Harbor Expansion), this game clearly has more. It forces a much more random set of buildings as you could end up with all of a kind out for sale, or just one all game. Each potential strategy really has its pros and cons and none of them are guaranteed to work as it really depends on the dice rolls and what's available on the field. Where the replay for me falls short is for when I want to win based off of skill alone. That really just isn't going to happen. But the length of the game makes sure that it's not going to wear down on its players and the fact that it's definitely more streamlined than the original completely makes a difference. Again, I'd give this part an 8/10. Generally, I'm willing to play this game. Especially if I'm playing with my kids or trying to teach it to someone new to the hobby.

Recommended Group:
Personally, I'd recommend this primarily as a gateway game. It's a little too long for it to be a filler I think, but at the same time is light enough and short enough to be a palate cleanser for after you finish a really heavy game. Also, this has gone over really well with pretty much every kid I've ever played with.

Overall:
All in all, I very much enjoy this game. That said, I was really disappointed after I realized that this was just a 2nd edition after purchasing the game. They really should have thought about the name more or just have placed that somewhere on the box. I like the theme a lot, although admittedly it helps if you start giving the buildings store names as it helps give the theme that extra push. I really like how streamlined this is and how easy it is to set up. If you don't own the original and its expansions, you should definitely go for this. I honestly do rate this game highly as it is a really good game in my opinion. But that said, I still prefer the original version (with the expansions) as the game is practically the same but with better components and one less die. I give this an 8/10. Pick it up if you don't already own the original!
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Josh Roberts
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Great review. I agree, I opened the box and thought, the insert is garbage. The coins are cheap and the cards will show wear immediately. But the game is a lot of fun.
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Willem van der Veen
Netherlands
Amersfoort
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Great review. But a little bit confused with the conclusion. I don't have Machi Koro and wanted to buy the deluxe version. I will play the game most of the time as a 2 player game. Which version should I buy? The Deluxe version or the Bright Light, Big City. I'm a little bit confused because you say “But that said, I still prefer the original version” and later you say “Pick it up if you don't already own the original!”.
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Roger Howell
United States
Lenexa
Kansas
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Bright Lights Big City is way better than the first version. I had the first version when it came out and didn't like it all that much, at least not with 2 players. So I traded it away. Bought the BLBC version at Target a few weeks ago and we love it. Plays great for 2 players. I can't speak for the Deluxe version.
 
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John Kanady
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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If you don't have the original, by all means get this one. It has an awesome three dice mechanic in it and pretty much incorporates the expansions of the original, while streamlining the setup.
 
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Willem van der Veen
Netherlands
Amersfoort
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Thanks for the quick reply. I will buy this version, to bad I have to wait till February 2017 before I can buy it. The stores in the Netherlands don't have it yet.
 
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John Kanady
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Glad I could help. Like I said, it really is a lot of fun. At least to me and my boys.
 
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