Machi Koro is fun.
Machi Koro is easy to learn.
Machi Koro has a lot of depth.
Machi Koro is a city building card game by IDW games. I will try to avoid comparing Machi Koro to other games, because there are similarities to several popular games, but Machi Koro is more of a combination of the best of those games than a clone. The goal of Machi Koro is to be the first player to complete four landmarks which finishes your city. Your city consists of six cards that you start with a wheat field, a bakery, and the four landmarks-train station, amusement park, radio tower, and shopping mall. Each player start with the same city.
There are four types of card easily identified by color. Blue cards generate money on anyone’s turn. Green cards generate money only on your turn. Red cards generate money on another players turn. Purple cards generate money only on your turn, by taking money from other players.
The concept is simple enough. Roll a die. Check the number at the top of each card and do what the card says. Simple enough with some variation. On your turn, you collect money from all of your matching blue and green cards. Other players collect money from their matching blue cards. If another player has a red card that matches your die roll, you pay them. If it is your turn and you can use a purple card, you collect money from other players. To keep the monetary system simple, red cards are collected first. If you do not have enough money to pay everyone too bad for them. After paying everyone, you collect money from blue, green, and purple cards.
During a turn, it is possible for everyone to collect money from a die roll or for a player to pay other players and then collect money from their properties. This may sound complex, but in truth flows very smoothly. When you have money, which will be most of the time, you can spend the money to purchase a new property OR to flip a landmark card from “under construction” to the full-color built side. A property comes into play immediately, but has to have the number rolled to be used. Landmarks come into play with always active abilities.
Depth of Play
The charm of Machi Koro is not in the simple die roll and money collection action, but in the depth of strategy. At the start of the game you roll one die. Rolling one die, you can activate wheat fields, bakery, forests, and a couple of other cards. These are solid money makers. With one die roll there is only one red card. One die allows you to build up a small amount of money, properties, or both. However, three of the four landmarks needed to win require 10 or more coins which is hard to earn with the early properties.
Once you get enough money you can flip over the train station landmark which allows you to roll 1 or 2 dice. Rolling two dice expands your options. Properties which require two-dice to activate do more. Some give more money on anyone’s turn. A few are multipliers using other properties to generate large amounts of coin. The Fruit and Vegetable Market for example, generates no money on its own, instead generating two coins for each card with a wheat symbol. This “second stage” of the game makes use of properties from earlier. With two dice there is no way to roll a 1, which would make wheat field useless. Now late game properties make use of them.
Another level of depth came into play, when our boy flipped over his train station before us. He was able to avoid our red cards more frequently and generate more cash. This forced Barb and I to focus on either getting late game properties or flipping over our own train stations.
Machi Koro is very easy to play. Our first game happened immediately after everything was unwrapped and punched out. Games are quick. Easy set-up and clean up. There is a surprising depth of play. For people looking for a quick, fun, easy to learn game with some depth pick up Machi Koro.