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.
Armed only with your trusty die and a dream, you must grow Machi Koro into the largest city in the region. You will need to collect income from developments, build public works, and steal from your neighbors' coffers. Just make sure they aren't doing the same to you!
Machi Koro is a fast-paced game for 2-4 players. Each player wants to develop the city on their own terms in order to complete all of the landmarks under construction faster than their rivals. On their turn, each player rolls one or two dice. If the sum of the dice rolled matches the number of a building that a player owns, they get the effect of that building; in some cases opponents will also benefit from your die (just as you can benefit from theirs). Then, with money in hand a player can build a landmark or a new building, ideally adding to the wealth of their city on future turns. The first player to construct all of their landmarks wins!
- Ages 10+
- 2-5 players
- 30 minutes playing time
Here at Zatu we have just been elected Mayor but we have a lot of needs to satisfy as we play Machi Koro.
In Machi Koro you are the new mayor of the town and guess what the citizens have some demands they would like a theme park, maybe some cheese factories and most certainly a radio tower so you had best get those pennies rolling.
Playing in 30 minutes and taking between two and four players, Machi Koro is a hugely popular dice rolling card drafting game where you will be racing to complete your four landmarks ahead of the other players.
Machi Koro's components are easy to cover because their are so few. 108 cards make up the bulk of these, showing a range of different establishments along with the landmarks. The art work is very distinctive on each of the cards and whilst depicting each of the establishments is a fun and quirky way they also remain clear and concise. There are several elements to these cards, first of all each has a dice roll number at the top, this is the number needed to active the location.
Second of all they will have a symbol next to the establishment's name. This symbol may trigger other location's effects and lastly they will have an ability and gold cost. The ability states what will happen when they are triggered and the gold cost is how much it will cost to buy that location.
The abilities are grouped into four main types and denoted by colour: Blue cards trigger when you or your opponents roll it, green cards work only during your turn, red cards allow you to take coins from the person who rolled the dice and purple cards trigger only on your turn but allow you to steal from all the players.
The game also contains two dice and 78 cardboard coins in three different colours for use during the game and that is quite literally all the components for this game. Machi Koro's box is rather oversized for its components and the box insert provided is no use to man or beast. Why IDW decided on this large box is really a mystery.
Machi Koro - Playing the game
The set up is so simple for this game that rolling it into our rules explanation segment seems like the most logical choice. First of all each player takes their starting cards, this means taking one copy of wheat fields and bakery per player these being marked with a yellow back and placing them face up in front of you. The only other thing required for players is that they have all four of their landmark cards face down so that the construction symbol is face up. This denotes that the landmark is not yet built, the train station, shopping mall, Amusement park and Radio Tower being the four landmarks present. Building each will grant you a benefit with the construction of all four winning you the game!
All the other establishments (blue backed cards) are then separated into different types and placed face up in separated piles so as to form the marketplace. They should also be arranged in order of the dice roll number You will be purchasing these cards as the game progresses in order to expand your city, and build your money making engine which will allow you to build your landmarks, which will in turn enable you to win the game. That's right I said this was an engine builder.
So on to building that engine. Each turn going clockwise from the starting player, players will roll their dice (a single die at the start), earn income and do any construction always in that order.
Once a player has taken the first step, i.e rolled the die, they will then trigger any building that correspond to the number rolled. At the start of the game this would be on a 1-3 with one triggering the wheat field and two to three triggering your bakery. Once triggered the buildings effects will then come into play, generating you coin for your future en devours. This is the collect income phase. Obviously if you want to make top dollar then you will need more establishments, and that's where the construction phase comes in.
The final phase of your turn enables you to buy new establishments and landmarks to add to your city. One landmark of establishment can be built per turn and these will cost the amount specified on the card. So you have some quite interesting choices at the start of the game as to whether you high load each die result or try and spread your payout so as to be sure you get some income every turn. Variation of establishment is also a decision as stacking the same building types can also yield some huge bonuses but you will be missing out on other abilities.
Whilst building establishments is important for engine building, landmarks though more expensive yield some of the best rewards and will help you reach your victory goal. Costing from 4 gold to a colossal 22 these are the most prominent buildings on the board, with each granting a solid new ability. From choosing to rolling an additional die each turn for those high number establishments to taking an extra turn if you roll a double these aren't called landmarks for no reason.
The game continues until one player manages to build all four of their landmarks and therefore win the game.
Machi Koro means "City Dice" or "Town Roll" in Japanese and it certainly lives up to its name. Originally previewing at Essen 2013, Machi Koro was a huge hit but was only available in a limited supply. It took until the end of 2014 for this game to finally reach the English speaking market again but man are we glad that its here!
How should I describe Machi Koro? Perhaps the perfect filler game would be the most appropriate. Offering a more engaging experience than Love Letter and with a play time that is only slightly longer, this is the perfect game to slot in between your games. It's not only incredibly easy to teach but has a level of depth along with some luck to keep it interesting.