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Card Game Review: Machi Koro (With Harbour Expansion)

An adorable card game, set in a little city that needs to be built up. You’re going to build this city up, as you are the new mayor! But to do so, you’re going to need money. The best way to make money is by making businesses that can help you generate said money. Will your city be the most desirable of all, in this beautifully simple city-building card game, Machi Koro? Or will you have to pay your opponents more than you get for yourself?

Review

Gameplay

A resource management style game; you are presented with a few base buildings to begin the game with. These base buildings need to be bought, which are ultimately your win condition (to build all of them). The most expensive building will cost you 30 coins, whereas the cheapest building costs only 2 coins. You do not need to buy the cheapest ones before buying the more expensive buildings.

If you have the expansion, Harbour, then you start with one of the base buildings, the City Hall, already unlocked. This gives you a coin if you run out of all coins, but only when you are able to start building. If you do not have the expansion, you start with none of these base buildings and instead you must unlock only 4 of them. The Harbour expansion increases this to 6 buildings.

You are also given two starting buildings for your city. These two are services that your city provides. The first says whenever anyone rolls a 1, you get a coin. The other says whenever you roll a 2 or a 3, you get a coin. Because everyone gets the same setup, by rolling a 1 to begin with, everyone will get a coin for free. If you have no coins, the City Hall gives you back 1 coin after you have rolled your die/dice on your turn.

Once your die has been cast and any coins have been moved about appropriately, it’s time for the construction phase. Any coins you have can be used to purchase establishments, which help you get more money. Blue cards earn you coin when anyone rolls the specified number, green earns you coin when you roll the number. There are red cards, in which you earn money from your opponents when they roll the number and finally purple cards, which you earn money from your opponent/s when you roll the number. It’s about finding the balance and building the best city you can.

Artwork

Beautifully simplistic, Machi Koro revels in a cartoon paradise. Every card looks as you would expect them to look, with a beautifully simplistic image. A Family Restaurant looks like a large building with a sign, indicating it serves food. The Shopping Mall looks like a large complex. Basically, the artwork is great, but there’s nothing too outlandish about it. Instead, it’s complementary and inoffensive.

Overall

First of all, let me say a massive thank you to GeekOut Bristol’s Jon Dowling. The guy is a font of knowledge when it comes to traditional games and is how I found this gem. Every time I play it, win or lose, I always have a great time. It’s just one of those games you can’t help but enjoy for the experience, even when the dice aren’t in your favour. Machi Koro is a true game that can simply be enjoyed.

Playstyles may vary, but overall the experience will be the same. You’ll go in, you’ll build up your town, roll some dice and hope for the best. The joy of the game comes from the simple process of building your town, which affects the way you want to play. Do you want to get bonus coins for you rolling a specific roll, or if anyone does it? Do you want to take money away, or do you want to distribute the wealth?

Machi Koro is a really simple game. You can pick it up from Amazon, but it is a bit expensive there. Furthermore, the cheaper copies of the game are in German, but either way the game is great and easy to learn regardless of language. It’s fun, it doesn’t take long, even with 5 players. If you’re a fan of unique resource management games, then this is one for you. If you enjoyed this review, leave us a comment below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.

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