MicroMacro: Crime City by Johannes Sich is an ingeniously simple and engaging design, but before you even get to the experience of being a detective and "solving" criminal cases in this horrible location, you should take a few moments to appreciate the brilliant packaging by publisher Edition Spielwiese:
The first step toward selling a game is getting people to do more than just glance at the cover. I will confess that I've stalked the aisles at various Target retail stores, watching how people look over the games on display. A surprisingly small percentage of people who scan game covers pick up a game to look at it more closely, and of those who do, few of them turn the game over to look at the back cover and learn more about it.
To avoid this situation, Edition Spielwiese lays out everything about this design on the front cover, starting with this callout bubble that is likely the first thing you see after the central logo:
"Who murdered the burger vendor?" Conveniently, the burger vendor is located in the upper-left corner of the box, and that corner is probably the third thing you look at when "reading" the box (depending on your native language, of course):
And what do you notice when you spot the burger vendor? You see him again nearby! Wait, what?! Turns out you're not viewing a static image, but rather an image of the city displayed over time, and you can follow some of the inhabitants to see their story in action.
In fact, you might spot someone else keeping an eye on the burger vendor, too, someone who is following the vendor, perhaps on the suspicion that he's carrying the day's take to the bank...
Seeing where the vendor is headed, you can make assumptions about where he'll be next, so you follow the path and, yep, there he is again, still being followed — and now that creep has a weapon!
What's going to happen ne—
Well, we already knew that the burger vendor was murdered, and now we've seen the crime unfold. What's more, we know where the murderer is now and which direction he's heading, so let's go nab him!
Not all games can be explained this simply and intuitively, but the choices made here are great. Let me point out, though, that MicroMacro: Crime City is, strictly speaking, not a game. I added this title to the BGG database following its announcement by game publisher Edition Spielwiese, but you have no time limits when solving these cases and no points awarded for doing well or deducted for doing poorly.
Still, don't let that minor detail be a distraction from what this design offers, namely hours of entertainment, whether on your own or with others gathered close by peering at the thousands of tiny details hidden in this 43" x 29" 3D city map.
MicroMacro: Crime City includes sixteen cases that escalate in difficulty, with the first case (as shown in the video below) leading you through the details of how to "solve" a case: find this location, answer this question, which leads to another question, and so on. As the cases get more difficult, they cover more parts of the city, introduce new forms of transportation that are harder to follow, and feature characters who are less distinctive. I mean, you can hardly miss the mustache on that burger vendor, which makes it easy to track him, but when you get to the hardest cases, you might have to track someone from behind by the arrangement of bumps on their head.
You need to peek in windows and make guesses as to where someone might have gone or from where they might have started. You can play the cases on "advanced" mode by looking only at the initial situation — a man was found shot in the parking lot of the hardware store — then trying to unravel the case without looking at the question cards. Look for clues, retrace their possible steps, and only when you think you know what happened will you look at the other case cards, trying to answer all of them as you retell the story of the crime. This is a far more difficult way to play!
Once you finish those cases, the rulebook includes teaser sentences for three other cases — e.g., "At the café in the south, a man reports to the police that his handbag was stolen. Where is it?" — and four more cases are available on the publisher's website. Beyond that, you can just spend a long time poring over the map, amazed by the variety of (mostly negative) life exhibited there. What's more, publisher Edition Spielwiese, which sent me a review copy of MicroMacro: Crime City, has plans for additional titles in the line, and I'll write about them in a Jan. 19, 2021 BGG News post.
To see more of the city and follow the details of the introductory case, watch this video, which features lead detective Max Martin:
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18 Jan 2021
- [+] Dice rolls