Game Review – Machi Koro by Pandasaurus Games

One of the first things that attracts me to a game is the art – the mechanics might be strong but without good artwork behind it a game just doesn’t work for me. Magic: The Gathering is a prime example of this – I doubt the game would have had so much staying power unless it had the fantastic artwork behind it. The game might be fun, might be enjoyable but without good artwork it just doesn’t fly for me.

I’ve talked about this before in other game reviews, primarily my review of Tokaido – which recently was reviewed on Tabletop and if you haven’t seen or tried this game then you’re missing out on some lovely artwork!

But I digress… here’s another great game that takes a simple mechanic and makes it addictive by adding in some great artwork!pic1963922_md

Machi Koro from Pandasaurus Games is a lovely dice game for 2-4 players. The goal is for each player to build a city by picking up cards based on dice rolls – and if you complete the four goals then you win.

Sounds simple, right?

Not so much…

First, let’s look over the cards – and you’ll see why I loved this game from the minute we opened the box!

The artwork is darned beautiful with each image representing a building or resource from farms to ranches to cheese factories.

Here you can see the four top cards, the ones that you need to complete to win the game. The Train Station, the Shopping Mall, the Amusement Park and the Radio Tower. In the lower left side you can see the number of coins you need to pay to build each building. The other cards are ones you can purchase to generate the coins needed to get each card. Note that each orange card has some sort of bonus for being built – one allows you to roll two dice instead of one if you wish and so on…

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But how do you GET those cards? By rolling dice and getting coins! When the game starts you have a Farm and a Wheat Field, both of which will generate coins for you depending on what you roll. A Wheat Field, for example, pays one coin if a 1 is rolled on ANYONE’S TURN, making it quite the valuable card. In the lower left corner of the cards you can see the coins needed to purchase the card and thus make yourself able to take advantage of more dice rolls.

On each turn you throw the dice and look at the result – you may get coins from other players or end up paying other players from your own stash depending on the dice roll and what cards they have. Once that’s over you can buy more cards if you have the money or you can pass and save up for a bigger, better card. As you can see the higher dice roll cards cost more but also have the potential to deliver more coins. And in the end it’s all about the coins as that’s what you need to save up to construct each orange card to win the game!

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After your first starting cards everything costs coins but you have to decide if you want to save up and work on those four orange cards or pick up more buildings that will enable you to get more coins depending on what you and the other players roll. Some give YOU the coins when YOU roll the dice, some give you money when someone else rolls the number. This gives you a variety of decisions including whether to roll one dice or two, what cards to purchase and what orange cards to build to give you bonuses.

I love this game because of the fast play, the variety of choices open to each player and the darned cute artwork! The game is easy to explain and learn and each game can last about half an hour, an excellent option if you’re looking for a fast game to plug in some empty gaming spots. It won’t take you long to figure out good strategies and some combinations have been declared downright abusive by other players but it all comes down to what the dice roll – and you can have great cards but if you can’t throw what you need… it doesn’t matter.

I highly recommend Machi Kori for anyone looking for a fast fun dice game. There’s an expansion coming out later this year and we’ll be picking it up!

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