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Machi Koro

Machi Koro is game from Japan that has been on my radar for a while, but production delays have kept it from the US market until recently. Was the game worth the wait?

What Is It?

Machi Koro is a game for two to four players designed by Masao Suganuma and published by IDW Games and Pandasaurus Games. The object of the game is to be the first to construct four landmarks in your town. To generate the cash to purchase these landmarks and other buildings, you roll a die and check to see which of your buildings activate and generate money. Some buildings, like the Wheat Field, activate regardless of whose turn it is. Other buildings, like the Bakery, activate only on your turn. A third type of building only activates when an opponent rolls a particular number and usually involve stealing money from the opponent who rolled the number. After rolling and collecting money, you have the opportunity to buy one building and add it to your city. You can have multiple copies of buildings in your city, allowing you to generate more money when certain numbers are rolled.

Machi Koro Game Setup

A game of Machi Koro set up for three players.

Instead of purchasing another building, you can build one of your landmarks. Most of the landmarks are very expensive, but each one gives you a special power. For example, the Train Station allows you to roll two dice if you want, which becomes necessary as some of the better buildings require numbers to activate that you can’t roll on one die. You aren’t required to build the landmarks in order, so you can target the powers that you think will help you most. Again, the first to build all four landmarks wins.

What Do I Think Of It?

Let’s start off with what I like about the game. This game feels like a strange mixture of Settlers of Catan and Splendor and that works for me. The game itself is simple, easy to teach and play, and doesn’t take particularly long to play. My daughter really enjoys the game, even if she doesn’t completely grasp the strategy yet. The art is cute and quirky. It feels like a great filler game and that’s really the part of my collection that I want to flesh out right now.

There are parts of the gaming I’m neutral about. It is possible for luck to make rude gestures in your direction and no one rolls the numbers to activate any of your buildings. To some extent, that can be mitigated by planning and buying buildings spread out across the numbers, but if it happens early and you get shut out of those buildings by the other players, it can be hard to come back from that.

Finally, the part of the game I don’t like: the components. I knew going into this that this was only a card game, so I can’t level too much criticism here, but there is some criticism to level. The cards are of decent enough quality, but their finish shows fingerprints fairly readily. The production company was not particularly careful in cutting some of the cards, so the cards show slivers of color from other cards. While this doesn’t affect game play, it is something that you don’t typically see in professional games. The cardboard used for the money tokens feels relatively cheap and some of the coins attempted to separate into the cardboard layers just from the process of punching them out. While these may be problems with this first print run, they’re definite issues and hopefully they’ll be addressed in future print runs.

Poor Card Cut

An example of the cutting of the cards. Note the red line on the left of the blue card and the blue line on the left of the green card.

Final Thoughts

Box and Insert

One component I can give them credit for: an excellent box insert. Plenty of room for future expansions.

Components aside, this game is a good one for families and an excellent gateway title. Turns go by quickly and you always need to check your own buildings whenever anyone rolls. At an MSRP of $29.99 (and being available for significantly less elsewhere), it’s well worth the money. The game already has one expansion, Machi Koro: Harbor, that is due out in the near future and I could see this game being significantly improved with the addition of new buildings. If you’re looking for a good filler game or a simple game for family game night, definitely give Machi Koro a look.

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