In keeping with the recent trend I find myself getting into skewing toward “lighter” games, Machi Koro popped up on my radar a little by accident. I was in Barnes and Noble killing time before heading back to the office when I came across Machi, and was immediately taken by the artwork. There’s a Katamari Damacy feel to the style which is immediately going to push all of the right buttons for me, and the price-point for Machi hovers just around board game impulse at $30.
Gameplay is relatively simple. Players take on the role of a Mayor in a small town looking to make their home the best. You win by building all four of your Monuments which are the same for each player – Station, Shopping Mall, Radio Tower, and Amusement Park – before anyone else, with your turn being a mix of die/dice rolling and card purchasing, in that order. There are a pool of seventeen (I believe, going from memory) cards available representing the different locations you can purchase and build in your town, each with their own set of perks. For instance, players start the game with a Wheat Field and a Bakery, the Wheat Field allowing players to get a coin from the bank whenever a 1 is rolled on anyone’s turn, and if you own multiple Wheat Fields, that’s 1 coin per Field. In this, there are a number of small strategies to Machi. Do you go for multiples of buildings which can trigger on anyone’s turn, or do you go for the higher end buildings which might be harder to “land”, but allow you to take coins from the pockets of others? My only real experience was what I imagine initial forays to include, my approach being one of button mashing where I purchased what I could and when, opting for a little-bit-of-everything plan in which more is (hopefully) better.
Once everyone has the rules down, and depending on the number of players – it supports up to four, though there are expansions which may change that, I’m not familiar with them – you can get a game in in less than 30 minutes. In some cases, you might even get two in in that time. With turns being roll the dice, collect coins, buy a card, players would need to actively work to get bogged down. Machi is also a perfect introductory game for those who wouldn’t consider themselves gamers, and especially for those often intimidated by the learning curve they associate with them.
Easy to pick up, and easy to play, Machi Koro’s charm is a perfect fit for just about anyone’s shelf. It’s the type of “filler” game certain groups could easily end up making a main course at their events.