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Machi Koro» Forums » Reviews

Subject: The problems with Machi Koro and how I’ve come to still enjoy it rss

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Levi Hobbs
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A Brief Overview of the Game:
Machi Koro is a light dice-rolling game for 2-4 (5 with the expansion) players. You spend coins to buy buildings (in the form of cards), each of which gives you coins on a different roll of the dice, and has different conditions. Blue buildings give you coins on anyone’s turn, green give you coins on your turn, and red give you coins on opponent’s turns by stealing from them. There are a few purple buildings, which do special things.

There are also four landmarks that you can buy, which give you different abilities (for instance: being able to roll two dice, which gives you access to the buildings that only come up on 7-12). When a player finishes all four of their landmarks, they win the game.

The Good:
Machi Koro plays in 30 minutes or less. It’s really fast and easy to explain. The artwork is a super cute Japanese style. Different buildings get combos off of other buildings, so there are definite strategies, even though there’s a big luck factor in the dice as well.

The Strategies:
Actually, not only are there definite strategies…there are only four of them. There’s a Ranch-Cheese Factory combo, there’s a rush strategy centered around building Shopping Mall early (which boosts production of all restaurant and cafe type buildings), there’s a Furniture Factory which can be boosted through two different buildings (its advantage is that all 3 are likely dice rolls, but all 3 are also relatively expensive), and there’s a Fruit & Veggie Market strategy (which uses Wheat Fields and Apple Orchards, and the biggest advantage is that all the components are relatively cheap).

Each of these strategies has a couple of finer points to them, but they’re not very hard to understand. Once you master the timing of when to buy what, the strategies are roughly equal, at least in my playing experience. I’m glad that they’re balanced. If all players understand the game, then the winning turn is usually determined in the last round by whoever the dice favors first.

The Problems:
I really enjoyed my first couple plays, but then quickly was disenchanted. The winner was being determined by the dice. Also, the game has four scripted ways of playing it, and the only thing to keep you from doing the exact same thing every time is if other players also go for that strategy. But in that case, you just switch to a different one of the four, and there you go.

So the two biggest problems are that the game is luck-based, and that the openings and main strategies are scripted.

The Solutions:
I read about the 10-pile variant that The Harbor Expansion has. Basically, you shuffle all the buildings together, and then start dealing them into piles. Every time you get to a card for which there are none of on the field (the first Bakery for instance), then you start a new pile for it. Every time you get to a card for which it is NOT the first one (the second or third Bakery for instance), then you put it on the existing pile. Keep going till you have 10 piles.

Well, that would work well if you had the expansion because it adds a ton more buildings. But there’s only about 15 buildings in the base game, so that doesn’t work well—you end up with really deep piles, and it’s hardly different than the normal game.

So I made my own variant, and it’s pretty simple. Use the 10-pile variant, but use 8 piles instead of 10. That’s it.

We’ve played this way several times now, and now we really enjoy the game again. First off, you rarely can just go for a single strategy the whole game. You’re pretty much always forced to blend strategies. Which cards would go okay with what I have here? And what cards will perform decently for me even if I never get the other card that combos with it? Risk management.

Furthermore, the game now has a lot of replayability. Not only are the setups different, but the feel of the game actually changes as the game progresses and the piles are changing. And then there’s the over-arching feel of each game—some games have more red cards, have more high-numbered cards (which slows down the openings), etc.

About the Randomness:
Now, does the game still have a significant luck factor? Yes. But this is a short, light strategy game, and luck is supposed to be a factor. The fact that it’s 30 minutes means you’ll be done sooner and can replay more often, and have more winners.

Also, I want to note that playing the 8-pile variant adds more strategy to the game, which in my experience has lessened the luck factor. Sometimes when I lose, it’s because I didn’t think about the implications of the situation, and I could have picked a better strategy. For example, on one game I tried to mix two strategies that both had a slow start to them—it would have gone much better if I had mixed a slow strategy with a fast one.

Also, the games are often very close, and for me, as long as that’s true then I don’t really worry about the luck factor, because hey! Anyone could have won. So for those three reasons, the luck factor no longer bothers me.

My Conclusion:
If you’re getting tired of MK and are beginning to think “what a waste of money,” then at least give this 8-pile variant a try. Maybe it won’t change your mind as it did mine, but on the other hand…maybe it will!

Without the variant, I would have rated this game, honestly, a 5.5 or maybe 6. But now I happily rate it a 7—meaning, I’ll gladly play it, given a good opportunity. Any time we want a light game that can be played in 30 minutes, this game is a go-to. And I don’t even have the Harbor Expansion yet. I hope you’ll come to enjoy Machi Koro as much as I have.
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A J
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We do the 4-4-2 variant, which works better than just a random 8 or 10 cards, imo.
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Chris Gallo
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I use both expansions and I deal out 15 piles instead of 10. Works pretty well.
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Bill Eldard
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Quote:
The Strategies:
Actually, not only are there definite strategies…there are only four of them.


I disagree. There are the obvious ones, and numerous hybrids of two or more.

Quote:
There’s a Ranch-Cheese Factory combo, there’s a rush strategy centered around building Shopping Mall early (which boosts production of all restaurant and cafe type buildings), there’s a Furniture Factory which can be boosted through two different buildings (its advantage is that all 3 are likely dice rolls, but all 3 are also relatively expensive), and there’s a Fruit & Veggie Market strategy (which uses Wheat Fields and Apple Orchards, and the biggest advantage is that all the components are relatively cheap).


I believe there are two basic "uber" strategies.

A. Concentrate heavily on a particular synergistic card combination (i.e. Ranch/Cheese Factory; Forest/Mine/Furniture Factory; Wheat Fields/Apple Orchards/F&V Market) in order to generate huge cash income on a narrow set of dice roles.

B. Spread-load the cards to get a more even but complete coverage of dice rolls. This might involve some hybrids of the "A" strategies, necessitating reduced quantities of the card combos. It will generate less cash per payoff, but it's less susceptible to the luck of the dice. There are many card combinations that make this strategy work.

Therefore, I maintain there are more than four strategies, and when one adds the Harbor Expansion, there's another one: The Restaurant (red card) strategy, wherein the player concentrates on buying all or mainly red cards. I don't think it's as good as the others, but I have seen it work once in a 5-player way.

Quote:
Each of these strategies has a couple of finer points to them, but they’re not very hard to understand. Once you master the timing of when to buy what, the strategies are roughly equal, at least in my playing experience. I’m glad that they’re balanced.


I agree; I've found no dominant strategy.
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Owais Aziz
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there was so much hype about this game when it came out

i mean its great but its just dice

after a few plays it gets boring

the expansions added more strategic combos but then its just dice right

iv decided not to throw my wallet at it anymore
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Désirée Greverud
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Ovaldo wrote:
there was so much hype about this game when it came out

i mean its great but its just dice

after a few plays it gets boring

the expansions added more strategic combos but then its just dice right

iv decided not to throw my wallet at it anymore

I've decided not to buy hot dogs anymore. I mean at first, they were ok and then I added ketchup and they got better, but now they are kind of boring. So no more hot dogs for me. Perhaps I should go to a hot dog forum and talk about how I'm not buying hot dogs
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Caleb
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DragonsDream wrote:
Ovaldo wrote:
there was so much hype about this game when it came out

i mean its great but its just dice

after a few plays it gets boring

the expansions added more strategic combos but then its just dice right

iv decided not to throw my wallet at it anymore

I've decided not to buy hot dogs anymore. I mean at first, they were ok and then I added ketchup and they got better, but now they are kind of boring. So no more hot dogs for me. Perhaps I should go to a hot dog forum and talk about how I'm not buying hot dogs


I think just maybe, the analogy you're looking for is going to a hot dog forum and talking about why you won't buy Ballpark Beef Franks anymore, in a thread specifically discussing the relative merits and shortcomings of Ballpark Beef Franks. Seems fairly relevant, for those interested in discussing hot dogs.
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Sonny Blount
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In the base game there is also the Convenience Store single dice strategy.

And I think that is the best one
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A J
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Sonny Blount wrote:

In the base game there is also the Convenience Store single dice strategy.

And I think that is the best one


That is something thankfully the Harbor expansion fixes. Single die strategy was way too powerful in base game.
 
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Levi Hobbs
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Sonny Blount wrote:

In the base game there is also the Convenience Store single dice strategy.

And I think that is the best one


With that strategy you would certainly want to get the Shopping Mall in order to maximize on your Convenience Stores.

So IMO that's just a variation of the "Shopping Mall" strategy, wherein you only get Convenience Stores and none of the other bakery/cafe shops.
 
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christian orton
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Yes, indeed. My son destroyed me every time we played the base game until I realized he never went up to two dice. Now we have the Harbor expansion and his strategy hasn't shifted unless he gets a tuna boat early. Whoever gets the tuna boat advantage wins 95% of the time though. So we've taken it out entirely. (We did try playing where it cost 15 coins for each tuna boat, which worked better, but prefer just to take it out).
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Levi Hobbs
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What I discovered about the shopping mall strategy is this: it's just too dangerous to let someone get all the Convenience Stores in an 2-player game. If you look at the return, it's higher than any of the other cards (1.5 instead of 1).

Calculation: 3 coins / 2 (because it's only your turn half the time) = 1.5.

Now, the purple, 6-roll cards have higher returns, but those cost a lot, so I don't include them in that. You can't buy them every turn. But the 1 and 2 cost cards can be bought every turn.

So basically to counter your son, if you buy Convenience Stores (get 3-4 or until they run out, because he'll probably be buying them too), and then switch to your other strategy, you'll find he doesn't do so well because he can't get all the cards he needs to explode as fast (this has been my experience at least). Also, considering the fact that you'll be going to 2 dice, they're one of the better cards for you to buy that aren't in your strategy, because 4s at least have a decent chance of coming up, whereas 1s don't come up and 2s hardly ever.

Of course, your strategy is going to be more "waiting for your ship to come in" than his. So that means that the luck of the dice will often determine whether your big shipment comes in soon enough in the game. Again, this is a pretty high luck game.

Also, in a 4-player game the shopping mall strategy is actually pretty weak and you don't need to worry about countering it.

Just thought I'd share my thoughts/experience on that in case others are having this problem.
 
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Pauly Paul
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ayejae wrote:
We do the 4-4-2 variant, which works better than just a random 8 or 10 cards, imo.


I'm not really following what you mean by 4-4-2. Can you elaborate please?

Thanks
 
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venrondua wrote:
ayejae wrote:
We do the 4-4-2 variant, which works better than just a random 8 or 10 cards, imo.


I'm not really following what you mean by 4-4-2. Can you elaborate please?

Thanks


Separate and shuffle 3 decks of buildings: 1-6, 7+, and all the purple cards. Then draw 4 from the 1-6 and 4 from the 7+ decks, and 2 from the purple deck. Those are available for purchase. As they are bought, just replace with the corresponding deck. Stack any duplicates so that there are always 10 DIFFERENT cards to choose from.

This normalizes the distribution of cards better and reduces a possible glut or shortage of a certain tier.
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Pauly Paul
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ayejae wrote:
venrondua wrote:
ayejae wrote:
We do the 4-4-2 variant, which works better than just a random 8 or 10 cards, imo.


I'm not really following what you mean by 4-4-2. Can you elaborate please?

Thanks


Separate and shuffle 3 decks of buildings: 1-6, 7+, and all the purple cards. Then draw 4 from the 1-6 and 4 from the 7+ decks, and 2 from the purple deck. Those are available for purchase. As they are bought, just replace with the corresponding deck. Stack any duplicates so that there are always 10 DIFFERENT cards to choose from.

This normalizes the distribution of cards better and reduces a possible glut or shortage of a certain tier.


Thanks!
 
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Here is another 4-4-2 variant based on this forum. To prevent the single dice strategy, each person starts with a train station. Before starting, deal 5 cards from the 7+ pile to each player. Each player picks two of the five to start with. You must roll two dice.

 
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