So, my boardgame journey begins.
What made me choose Machi Koro over any other game offered to my attention that wet Saturday in August, I couldn’t say.
Perhaps it was the colourful, cartoon-like artwork that called to me, so different it was from the film franchise embossed games the kids had at home? Perhaps the idea of building a pretend city brought back memories of a youth spent playing Sim City on the SNES?
Most likely, I went home that day with this game because it was the one game on the display that the whole family could agree on.
The sales assistant told me Machi Koro is a popular game. It’s easy to see why: roll the dice, if the dice total matches the number on an establishment card in your possession earn some money to buy a new card and repeat until you have made enough money to build a landmark. First player to build four landmarks wins. So simple, so quick, so much like monopoly only…well, enjoyable.
Except, of course, it is not that easy. I rolled a three, fantastic! My two Bakery cards generate two coins! But wait, my son has a café also triggering on a roll of three, so I must pay him a coin.
Next turn, he rolls a one which activates each player’s Wheatfield and earns everyone a single coin. He buys another Wheatfield, seeking to dominate in agriculture.
My wife rolls a six which does absolutely nothing. Her city cards run to one through five, not yet having earned enough to invest in those high cost properties.
Then my daughter rolls seven from two dice and triggers her Cheese Factory collection (she owned five – she likes cheese) 15 coins and a landmark purchased!
It’s fun, play passes quickly or as quickly as it can with two kids arguing over who gets the blue die. The rules are simple and the components engaging.
And yet…and yet…
It isn’t long before some doubts appear, lurking beneath the surface of the enjoyment.
All the (insert the card currently needed here) have gone before everything else again – is it me or are there only two different ways to win this game?
I have three establishments and no money, everyone else has six establishments and enough cash to retire on; is this really the third time in a row I’ve not generated any income and effectively sat out my turn?
Is there a way to fix this – maybe have limited number of establishments available at the start of the game rather than all? Ah…that just seems to make the game last longer. It feels longer too when the family lose interest because they can’t buy anything even more frequently than before. That seems to be the consensus of the internet about how to fix this issue. There is an expansion available which gives it an official stamp but still…
And, did they really need to package a deck of cards, two dice and some cardboard coins in that much plastic?
Oh! My! Goodness! I’ve just rolled an eight! My factories have plundered my forests. I’ve made 30 coins and can now buy that final landmark for the win! Yay me!
Nevermind the doubts; those little niggles that suggest Machi Koro isn’t all it could be. It’s fun, it’s family friendly and quick to learn. Just bring your lucky dice.