Motor City

RRP: £31.99
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RRP £31.99
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Motor City is a strategic roll-and-write game about running an auto plant in the heydey of Detroit. In Motor City, you have two player sheets, each with multiple areas. These areas are represented by tracks that you will mark off as you make progress. Many of the tracks are interconnected with other elements in the game, giving you bonuses along the way and opportunities to unlock m…
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Category Tags , SKU ZBG-TFC32000 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Value For Money

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Easy solo to operate
  • Super interactive
  • Crunch trade-offs
  • Engine building in roll and write form

Might Not Like

  • The rule book isn’t the easiest to navigate and doesn’t always have the answer
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Description

Motor City is a strategic roll-and-write game about running an auto plant in the heydey of Detroit.

In Motor City, you have two player sheets, each with multiple areas. These areas are represented by tracks that you will mark off as you make progress. Many of the tracks are interconnected with other elements in the game, giving you bonuses along the way and opportunities to unlock more points. Advancing on all of these tracks offers various amounts of points, advancements, and bonuses.

The game lasts eight rounds. Each round, roll colored dice based on the number of players, then place them on spaces on the blueprint table based on value and color. Each player drafts one die and uses it. Once everyone has drafted a die twice, all players get to use the remaining die on the blueprint table.

After eight rounds, you score points for your progress in engineering, assembly, testing, and more. Whoever has the most points wins.

Motor City has a solo mode in which you try to top your own score against an auditor that drafts dice and blocks areas of your sheet. Its difficulty can easily be adjusted by changing the colors of dice during setup, with no added rules.

Motor City is game 3 of the Motor City Gameworks Loaded Roll and Write series.

Game 1: Fleet: The Dice Game
Game 2: Three Sisters
Game 3: Motor City

 

 

A game about cars? Hmm…oh wait. Hang on. This is by Matt D. Riddle of Three Sisters and Fleet Dice fame. Well, duh! Yes, please take my money Motor City. Now. Now. Now!!!

That mental moment took less than 5 seconds start to finish. I am that into the Riddle’s crunchy gameplay!

Start Your Engines

Set up is slick. Each player gets two sheets and a red cup token, and the blueprint board is placed where all can see. Then the dice are rolled and placed on the corresponding columns arranged by colour. Don’t forget to pick one free engineer and one test track!

There are just 8 rounds and each turn has three phases;

  • Planning – this is the dice rolling and placing phase described above
  • Industry – this is where players pick a die from the Blueprint board and carry out three actions
  • Blueprint Bonus – i.e. the action printed on the board underneath the die you picked
  • Blueprint Action – i.e. the action printed on the actual die (and column) you picked (or you can check a box on the research track or use it to upgrade the action – if you have enough money to go spending it up at the shop!); and
  • Scoresheet Action – i.e. pick one of the 4 spaces in the top right section of the scoresheet (Testing/Sales/Production/Engineering) and carry out that action.

Once everyone has done this twice, the last die is shared by everyone – you get the Blueprint action (but no bonus or scoresheet action). And if you don’t fancy it, you can use it to check off a box on the research track instead.

Auditor (from Round 2 onwards) – everybody checks their Speedometer and gets the points on the highest star checked off – these are written in the round scoring box on the scoresheet. Then roll the red Auditor die and place the cup meeple over the corresponding Scoresheet action box (Testing/Sales/Production/Engineering) – this will be unavailable to you on the next round (unless you choose to pay to ignore it that is!)

Once the 8th round is over, everybody counts up the VPs they have accumulated over the various areas of car production, and the winner is the player with the highest score.

Final Thoughts

Now, that’s the game stripped down to its bare chassis! There’s so many possibilities and permutations that it would be impossible to cover every which way to gain points. But it’s one of those games where you cannot do everything. You’ll want to. Oh, you will definitely want to. And you’ll panic (if you’re like me) because the first few rounds feel like they are yielding very little. But then, as you go up on the engineering and production tracks, and you get lots of lovely dollar-dollar-bills to spend, the combos start rolling in.

I would say that upgrading your scoresheet actions is a no-brainer. As soon as you can. Because each time one gets triggered, you’ll be able to check off two or three boxes instead of the starter-motor single box. Plus, look out for free upgrade bonuses in the various areas! This will have your combo chains jangling together like Snoop Dogg at a diamond sale! This is the revving heart of your engine and you are going to want to put pedal to the metal each round.

And try not to be overwhelmed by all the icons being used. Because there are a lot! And they are small. There’s a handy glossary in the back of the rule book that I would recommend keeping out in the absence of player aids. Some relate to instant bonuses. Others show what needs to have been collected in order to score that particular VP haul. It’s not always intuitive as to what each one does unlike Three Sisters which seems to have a flow that’s easier to follow. Also, the rulebook doesn’t seem to cover every eventuality which is a little frustrating. BGG is full of recommended courses of action though if you do find yourself ticking-over in a rules grey area!

What I really enjoy is that I can try out different strategies each game. Replayability is off the charts because even though the actions I take each turn and each phase are the same, the decision space is always different. Randomised dice rolls and opponents’ drafting choices see to that! I need to play more and get more familiar with each area because I have found that I miss key symbols (like tyres) when choosing the various tracks. And this then denies me a bonus or VPs at end game. Not that I need one, but that just sounds like the perfect excuse to play Motor City more! Haha

I won’t go into it in detail as that can be found here, but I love playing Motor City solo. Auditor Emma is a force to be reckoned with, and I love every minute.

If you like the sound of Motor City solo, I would highly recommend Three Sisters too – it has the same quality of crunchiness and a theme that’s more earthy than oil-rag dirty!

Three Sisters and Fleet the Dice Game are two of my all-time favourite games. And when I saw the designers were bringing out Motor City, it was an instant buy for me.

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!

Auditor Emma

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!

Final Thoughts

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!

 

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Easy solo to operate
  • Super interactive
  • Crunch trade-offs
  • Engine building in roll and write form

Might not like

  • The rule book isnt the easiest to navigate and doesnt always have the answer