Machi Koro | The Tabletop Letters

Dear Readers,

It would have been more appropriate on Samhain to write about “The Fury of Dracula”, but it felt more like a “Machi Koro” kind of day. We’ll play “The Fury of Dracula” soon, I’m guessing.

Machi Koro was rather rare when I first encountered it. I can’t remember where I heard about it, but I know I had to order it. Now it’s available at many retailers and Target even has its own special version.

I enjoy this little game. It always makes me happy though it seems like I don’t usually win!

It’s really for 2-4 players. The Harbor Expansion allows you to add a fifth player. I’ll write a separate entry on the expansions (Harbor Expansion and Millionaire’s Row) – they change the game entirely.

Once I played with two decks combined. There were eight of us. I was banker, and it was crazy. I don’t think I sat down for most of the game. It seemed like I was constantly paying out, giving change, and running out of certain denominations! (Solved by having the expansion with the 20s). I don’t recommend eight players! It was hectic.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Players: 2-4
  • Play time: 30-45 minutes
  • Age: 10+
  • By: IDW Games

So again, I will rate it on accessibility, mechanics, and engagement.

Accessibility. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This game has a very simple premise – you’re a city manager trying to build the four landmarks your citizens crave. The winner is the first to achieve this.

The landmarks give you extra abilities as well.

The concepts are pretty universal – business fronts. The text is clear. The colors are bright. This is definitely designed so that most people would enjoy playing it.

With small children (or maybe tired adults too?) a calculator might help. Some of the cards have exponential effects that might be an issue without being able to easily multiply.

Mechanics ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️🌑

The mechanics are fairly simple. You roll a die to begin your turn. You pay any debts incurred by rolling to other players. The bank gives you money according to your roll. Then you can buy a business front card.

The reason I give it just four stars for mechanics is that some of the cards aren’t extremely useful. For example, owning red cards means that other players must pay you at the beginning of their turn. The Cafè (a roll of 3) and the Family Restaurant (a roll of 10) seem useful- if someone rolls a 3 or a 10 then they owe you money. BUT if they have no money then you don’t get paid. Also, once a player has unlocked the Train Station landmark they may roll two dice. This reduces the likelihood of rolling a 3 significantly.

Another color of cards are also less useful: purple. The purple cards have actions only when a 6 is rolled. In the game from this play, my husband had a TV Station. Again, if the other player has no money then they don’t have to pay you. He said I probably rolled at least five 6s without having to pay him anything and it was an expensive purchase.

Because of that we don’t typically use purple or red cards very much in the base game even though our strategies are very different.

Engagement ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s a fun, quick game that usually makes me happy. Since you can accrue money when it’s not your turn, it’s not boring.

The replay value is somewhat limited. The strategy changes with additional players. Eventually I found myself wanting the expansions. The expansions have incredible replay value.

I enjoyed this game so much that I included it as part of Christmas presents for some of my family a few years ago.

Happy Gaming! Play On!

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