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 “Welcome to the city of Machi Koro. You’ve just been elected Mayor. Congrats! Unfortunately the citizens have some pretty big demands: jobs, a theme park, a couple of cheese factories and maybe even a radio tower. A tough proposition since the city currently consists of a wheat field, a bakery and a single die.”

Publisher: IDW Games
Game Designer: Masao Suganuma
Artwork: Noboru Hotta
Players: 2-4
Ages: 8+
Playing Time: 30′
Game Mechanics: Card Drafting, Dice Rolling
Contents: 108 Cards, 2 dice, 56 cardboard coins
Suggested Retail Price: £24.99
Parental Advisory: None
Awards: n/a

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Introduction

Machi Koro has been around for quite a while, but in very short supply and extremely hard to find, especially if you want an English language edition, or really any language other than Japanese! There has been a great deal of hype surrounding the game and indeed the box itself touts the rather bold statement “Welcome to Machi Koro. The Japanese card game that is sweeping the world.”

Can it live up the hype? Read on and find out…

The idea for Machi Koro is quite simple. Build a city from the available locations and win by ensuring the four primary landmarks are created. Each location you build will provide income and that income can then be used to expand your city further with more expensive buildings and landmarks, each offering benefits or additional income opportunities. The game is over immediately that a player builds their fourth landmark. As I said, simple.

“A fast paced, city building, dice rolling card game”

Summary of Content

The contents are reasonably good, at least the cards are, but at the same time the components also contribute to the game biggest weakness. Much has been made, in the wake of Splendor, about boxes built to deceive the would be buyer. The English edition of Machi Koro falls very much into this category as it comes in an oversized box and the actual components account for only a fraction of the space within. Opinions have been divided on this front, with many believing the large box has simply been introduced to justify the higher price tag that is placed on the English language version.

With that being said, what they have included in the box is a well designed insert that clearly has expansions in mind. The insert has four card trays and the current set of cards fit neatly into one of them. There are two other foreign language expansions currently available with plans to release these in English (source BGG).

The cards themselves, of which there are 108, are good quality with a nice gloss finish. Each location card type has a lovely unique graphic to depict it and information that each card contains is clear and concise. The box also contains two dice (one blue, one green) which are standard fare, nothing too extravagant here. The money tokens are standard 2mm card and came out of their punch board very easily (a little too easily one might argue as a few renegade coins were found rattling around the box). The coins come in three different values, 1 (copper), 5 (silver) and 10 (gold), and are double sided. One side depicts a crown and the other the value.

The rule book is short and with clear explanations and  examples of play. The only criticism I have of the book is down to a little laziness on the part of the translation team. The examples throughout use pictures of the English card translations, aside a couple of examples where the Japanese cards have been left pictured. Not really a big deal at all, but I noticed it and thought it worth mentioning.

Analysis and Evaluation

Each player starts Machi Koro with a small a village represented by a bakery card and a wheat field card. They also have four additional landmark cards which they must try and construct over the course of the game. The winner is the player who manages to construct their landmarks first. In order to do this they will also need to construct a number of other locations which will provide valuable income from either the bank or from other players.

Turns are very quick and always follow the same order. First the active player rolls the dice. Second the active player resolves the dice roll to either pay dues to other players, collect income or both (in that order). Finally, the active player may purchase a new location card to expand their village or build one of their four landmarks. Once this has happened the turn moves to the next player in clockwise order.

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General Location Cards

The cards and instructions on each are very clear. At the top of the card is the number it will activate on if dice are rolled of the matching value (in the examples pictured 1, 6, 7 and 10) . Underneath the activation number is the Location name and a symbol which identifies which family the card belongs too. The bottom left is the construction cost (or purchase cost of the card) and finally the text explains the effect of the card. Some cards will activate on your turn, others activate on anyone’s turn, then you have cards which multiply the effect of cards of the same family. There are also cards, the restaurant pictured above and a cafe card, which force other players to pay you income if they roll certain numbers.Finally there are unique location cards (purple cards) which have other special abilities. These unique locations are restricted to one of each type per player and offer slightly different activation abilities beyond collecting income.

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Landmark Cards

The construction of four Land Mark cards are required to win the game work and these work a little differently to the other available locations. The ability of each is designed to help you along your journey to be the first to finish your city.

After the dice are rolled you determine which card(s) activate and follow their instructions. Payment to other players happens first, then income on your cards is collected. This is a nice touch as you can only pay other players what you have and does not include income that will be collected later in the turn. It should mean that you are always left with some money to construct a location should you wish. It is quite rare that on a turn your dice roll will leave you with nothing to do, especially in the early stages of the game.  Additionally, income to other players is paid  in reverse order, so you pay the player to your right first and move round the table in that order.

The game plays very quickly with virtually no downtime. It is fast and furious, with players collecting income, taking payment from each other and swapping locations. Before you know it the game is in the final phases with the race to be the player to build his final landmark reaching its conclusion.

Conclusion

Machi Koro is a great little card / dice game that can be played in less than 30 minutes. Players are constantly involved in the game even when it is not their turn and with a very simple premise, build your city, and with only one or two options to choose from each turn really leaves no room for players struggling to make decisions. It is straight forward and very easy to introduce to new players, gamer and non gamer alike.

The complaint about the box size is something you will either feel strongly about, or wont register with you at all. Personally, it is a little frustrating, but I was aware beforehand that this change had been introduced.

Club Fantasci Scoring (Based on scale of 10):

Artwork: 8

Rules Book: 8

Re-playability: 9

Component Quality: 7

Club Fantasci Overall Score: 8

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I am giving Machi Koro 8.5 out of 10 stars because for me it is a fantastic filler and at an affordable price. It can be taught easily and played quickly which should see it come to the table relatively often. I really like the artwork and although it is really quite simple, the bold colours used are very effective and help bring the theme to life. I have played with three and four players and it play equally well with either. I have not played this with only two players, but don’t feel it would prove a very effective two player game anyway and is perhaps the biggest weakness of the game.

Company Website: IDW Games

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