Having been brought up in a car obsessed household, the theme didn’t immediately call to me. But the reputation preceding it was enough to put my money on the table (metaphorically speaking!). And I am so glad I made that choice. Because it is a rolling, writing, engine cranking smasher of a game!
I won’t go through the game play in detail here because this review is all about my showdowns with Auditor Emma, the solo AI tyre-kicker! Plus you can find that on the other tab!
I hate audits at work. They fill me with foreboding, and Auditor Emma in Motor City is no different. She’s awkward and interfering and bonus snatching. And it’s brilliant!
In the multiplayer, you do your thing and other do theirs. Granted, the first player gets dibs on the dice they want. So in a way there is direct interaction at that stage. But they aren’t motoring over to your sheet and crossing things off. No, that’s Auditor Emma’s job! And she loves it. You can just tell!
As well as denying you an action square (just like the multiplayer mode), the dice she takes on her turn will deny you something good. She doesn’t have her own sheets. Oh no. Too precious to write up her own work……Auditor Emma comes over to yours and DENIES you stuff instead!
Slicker than an oil leak, she shimmies over and crosses out boxes you were just at the point of unlocking. And in truth, because of her access-denied approach, solo is my favourite way to play Motor City! Weird I know, but what can I say? Treat me mean, keep me keen! Haha
Roll Up, Roll Up
Solo set up is easy. Auditor Emma has a specific dice which gets rolled from round 2 onwards. It determines which dice scoresheet action space is going to be unavailable to you in the Industry Phase. But, unlike the MP mode, her die then goes to the matching column on the Blueprint Table. On her turn (first player in even numbered rounds), she will take the topmost die from that column and its colour determines how many boxes she will deny you in the matching area (Speedometer/Testing/Sales/Production/Engineering) on your score sheet. Which particular part of the area is determined by the roll of a black D6 which only gets used in solo play. Her second die will be taken from the next available column and again will be the top-most available.
And I know that knowing what Emma is going to go for should make things easier. But we are in Rumsfeld territory here. There are knowns we know and there are knowns we don’t know. There are even unknowns we know we don’t know! Because everything she does is going to have an impact somewhere and cause you to trade-off later in the game. And damage-control is always on your mind. Taking dice you don’t need right now purely to stop Auditor Emma slamming the brakes on your strategy is, well, a necessary strategy!
I love playing Motor City solo. It’s hard and Auditor Emma plays dirty in the best possible way! I must admit the rule book takes a while to digest. There are a lot of icons and areas on the sheets, and they aren’t always intuitive. I spent my first few games checking and rechecking. And I’m still referring back to it for clarification now. But honestly, I can forgive that because I enjoy the combotastic thinkiness of the gameplay too much. Plus, any ambiguities always go in the player’s favour……right?? Haha!
And the game (just 8 rounds) goes so fast. Auditor Emma’s prescribed moves are set out in seconds, so you can focus 90% of the time on what you want to do and what you need to do. Which is the best way to solo a game. The turbo-boost of direct interaction in solo mode is the awesome sauce and it leaves a real rubber-burn on my brain.
For me this game is super satisfying to play and any frustrations along the way are of the “arrrgghhh I’ll get you next time” sort! It’s billed as a “strategic engine-building roll and write game” and that is right on the money. If you like the sound of Motor City solo, I would highly recommend Three Sisters too – it has the same quality of crunchiness that keeps you coming back for more punishment!