Never Bored With Board Games: Machi Koro


Machi Koro
Difficulty Level: 2
Play Time 20-30 minutes
Number of Players: 2-4
Recommended age: 7+
Stars (1-5): 3

Machi Koro is basically a game of who can take advantage of probability and luck. Players compete to construct all four of their landmarks—the Train Station, the Shopping Mall, the Watchtower, and the Launchpad—before anyone else. Each landmark, when built, gives you a special bonus ability. You must spend coins in order to build them (which you can get from your other buildings).
Setup is simple, since all you need to do is lay out all of the building cards and distribute a Wheat Field and a Bakery to each player. Then, whoever rolls the highest number on two dice goes first. On your turn, you must roll either one or two dice. Then depending on the number shown, gain an amount of coins. For example, the Wheat Field says that whenever you roll a one, you get one coin. The bakery states that whenever you roll a two or a three, you get one coin. Then, you have the option of buying another building. You may have as many copies of a building as are available in the shop. There are 12 buildings in the game (the number(s) after each name is the number that, when rolled, it produces coins on): Wheat Field (1), Ranch (2), Bakery (2-3), Cafe (3), Convenience Store (4), Forest (5), Stadium (6), Business Center (6), TV Station (6), Cheese Factory (7), Furniture Factory (8), Mine (9), Apple Orchard (10), and Family Restaurant (11-12). After that, you then have the option of building a landmark.
There are four colors of cards in Machi Koro: blue, green, red, and purple. Blue cards can produce coins for you on anyone’s turn, Green cards on your turn only, and Red cards on your opponent’s turn only. For example, let’s say I have a wheat field (which is a blue card) and my opponent rolls a one. I would then get one coin. As explained before, the Bakery produces one coin on both a two and a three, but only on my turn since it is green. However, let’s say I have a cafe. A cafe is a red card that says whenever an opponent rolls a three, they must give me a coin. Purple cards, on the other hand, activate on your turn only but still take things (either coins or buildings) from your opponents. Only the Stadium, Business Center, and TV Station are purple.
Of the many playable strategies in Machi Koro, there are only three reliable ones. The first is what can be called the “Convenience Strategy.” It relies heavily on you buying as many convenience stores as possible, with a mix of other cards that can be activated if the roll is six or lower. The Convenience Strategy hopes to maximize the possibility of rolling a four (on which the convenience store produces three coins).
The “Factory Strategy” hopes to buy as many ranches, forests, and mines as possible. This is not because of the cards themselves (although they are useful), but because of the Cheese Factory and the Furniture Factory. The Cheese Factory says that, whenever you roll a seven, you get three coins for each ranch you have. The Furniture Factory gives you three coins for each mine and forest you have whenever an eight is rolled. This often gains you over 20 coins in one roll.The last strategy is to play against your opponents. Whenever you see your opponent buying something, buy that same thing. You want to try and stall your opponent and prevent them from making money. One of the best cards for you to buy is the Cafe, since it allows you to take money from your opponents.
Since the only luck in this game is due to rolling dice, it can occasionally feel as though you are playing the same game over and over. After eight or so turns the game boils down to whoever can get the luckiest. Despite these drawbacks, the game usually gets exciting whenever there is a close tie. Players are often neck and neck right up until somebody wins the game.