Review Date: November 2nd, 2015
Time: 30 Minutes
Release Date: 2012
Mechanics: Engine Building, Dice Rolling
Designer: Masao Suganuma
Publisher: IDW Games, Pandasaurus Games
Machi Koro is a charming city building game played with cards and dice. Each player takes on the role of the mayor of the city of Machi Koro. Players start with just a few buildings, but over time they will construct more and increase their income engine. The first player to construct all 4 special landmark buildings(which each give you a special power) will win.
I am reviewing the base game here and I am not taking into consideration any of the expansions.
Players do 3 things on their turn:
1 – Roll 1 die, with the option of 2 if you have the train station landmark built.
2 – Earn Income: Based on the sum of the rolled dice some of your buildings may activate and earn you income. Your opponents buildings may also activate on your turn earning them income.
3 – Build: you may purchase a single building or landmark.
The turn is then passed to the left. This continues until a player constructs all 4 landmarks.
The number at the top of the card shows what needs to be
rolled to activate the building. The number in the lower left show what
it costs to build the building.
Strategies For New Players
Machi Koro has a high luck factor, however at it’s heart it is a number game. A basic understanding of statistics/probabilities will greatly increase your odds of winning. Here are a few pretty basic tips/strategies to help a new player.
Construct Based On Number Of Players: Blue buildings will pay out on anyone’s turn as long as the die result matches. In 3 and 4-player games blue cards will be your bread and butter, they generally pay small ammounts but can pay out on any turn. Green buildings will only pay out on your turn, so these are less desirable in 3 or 4-player games since there is a larger gap between your turns.
Single Dice Strategy: Buy buildings that pay on results between 1 and 6, and never roll 2 dice on your turn. You should be buying a building on every single turn and you should be collecting income on almost every roll. You will never get huge payouts on a single turn, but you should see a consistent income and your engine will be up and running fairly quickly. Build your shopping mall landmark ASAP as it will increase the income of a few of your buildings.
Cheese Factory Strategy: The cheese factory will pay out whenever you roll a 7. 7 happens to be the most common result when you roll 2 dice. When the cheese factory activates it pays you 3 coins for every ranch you own. If you own 3 cheese factories and 3 ranches you will collect 27 coins every time you roll a 7. This strategy is a little riskier and works best in 2-player games. You won’t collect coins often, but when you do you will be rewarded with a pile of coins.
Mine Strategy: The mines feel a little overpowered in my opinion, this strategy involves buying as many of them as possible. This strategy will work best in 4-player games where most players are rolling 2 dice at a time. Each mine will pay you 5 coins any time any player rolls a 9. A 9 will be rolled about 11% of the time when you roll 2 dice and 5 coins is a pretty decent payout. If you can collect 3 or 4 mines and a bunch of other blue cards you will have a pretty consistent income.
Lack Of Variety: My biggest issue with the game is that every single game feels exactly the same and you don’t really need to think too much once you have chosen a basic strategy. Every building is available right from the very first turn and there aren’t any surprises. The overall gameplay is very fresh and streamlined, but the lack of variety in the cards and setup leave me wanting more.
Depth: This is a light filler game. It is great for kids and casual gamers. Don’t go in expecting an epic strategic city builder and you will probably have fun with it. Unfortunately after a single play you have pretty much experienced everything that the game has to offer. I will play the game over and over if someone wants to, however the ‘wow’ factor quickly wore off with me.
Luck: You could be the greatest statistician in the world and still lose at Machi Koro just because dice are being rolled. A runaway strategy from one game might fail miserably in the next. If you are a hardcore gamer who thinks that the player with the best strategy should always win then you might want to avoid this game.
Art/Layout: The art is simple, but very colorful and unique. What I like best is that it is consistent right across the board. The box, cards, and manual all share the same style which makes it easier to immerse yourself in this town and gives the whole game a very professional feel. It is very easy to glance at a card and know what it does.
Ease Of Play: The rules for the game could not be simpler. It takes 2 minutes to explain the game and there will rarely be any rule disputes during the game. Every thing you need to know about a building is listed right on the card.
No Downtime: The turns are quick and every die roll might affect you so you will be engaged from start to finish.
Overall Score: 6/10
I feel bad giving this game such a low score since I play it often and it is very unique. The truth is that playing the base game alone just isn’t a lot of fun anymore. I need variety and I need a little more strategy, so I will rarely play Machi Koro without one of the expansions.
Casual gamers will love this game and it makes a great filler, however the base game alone might feel incomplete to many gamers.
Check out my other reviews at www.doyouwantthetruth.ca