Welcome to the city of Machi Koro… you’d best get building it!
As the new mayor of the city of Machi Koro, it’s your job to fill it with buildings! You’ll need to satisfy the people with theme parks, restaurants, markets, radio towers, and of course cheese factories! The first mayor to build all four of their landmarks (train station, shopping mall, theme park and radio tower) wins the game! To construct these buildings you will need money, and lots of it!
The game is based around building cards which are numbered from 1-12. You start off with a Wheat Field (1) and a Bakery (2-3) in your city, and on your turn you roll one dice. If the dice equals a numbered card in your city, you perform that action, and some cards even activate when other players roll the number.
Most actions involve getting varying amounts of money either from the bank or other players, for example the Wheat Field gives you 1 coin when anyone rolls a 1, whereas the Bakery gives you 1 coin when you roll a 2 or a 3, but not when your opponents do. After you’ve rolled the dice and gained any coins from the result, you can buy a new building to add to your city (if you can afford it!). As the game goes on you’ll be able to afford some pretty tasty buildings and your cheapest landmark, the train station, will unlock the ability to roll two dice on your turn.
The Cheese Factory, which costs 5 coins, gives you 3 coins for every Ranch you own when you roll a 7. So naturally I bought as many Cheese Factories as possible and cashed in every time I rolled a 7. There are some cards that even let you steal coins from an opponent (a tactic that was definitely not utilised enough in our game!), but apart from that there isn’t too much cut throat business going on.
As soon as you can afford to, you can start buying your four landmarks, bringing you closer to victory. They each give you a bonus ability (like the Train Station giving you the second dice), and once all four are built you are the champion! It really is as simple as that!
Although we like games with small elements of luck involved, for us this was too luck based and I didn’t feel as though I’d really earned my victory. I rolled three consecutive 7s, earning me enough coins to buy my three remaining landmarks and all of a sudden I’d won. Poor Sam who had the same number of Cheese Factories as me didn’t roll any 7s so missed out. That doesn’t mean this game won’t be for you though! It was really simple to learn and would be really fun for children and families, or just a lighter gaming session. The cards are all well illustrated and I really love the box art, but unfortunately we won’t be rushing to play this one again.
It felt like the worst bits of Catan (the randomness of dice rolling and getting resources for them), but without the strategy or skill side of it. Perhaps an alternative way of determining the victor would be better? In Dice Forge, you can buy cards which give you powerful abilities but aren’t worth many points, but also high value point cards with little or no ability. I feel like it might be better if that sort of system was employed here, giving you lots of points for cards unlikely to be rolled, and not many points for your Cheese Factories (7) or Family Restaurants (8).
It’s worth saying I really like the theme though 🙂 all the Japanese-influenced games we own are very enjoyable!
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