Machi Koro from designer Masao Suganuma is the new Japanese game that’ll be washing up on North American shores this summer. Like other games in this latest wave of little Japanese creations, it’s small in size, but big in ideas and aspirations. Machi Koro attempts to scratch the same itch that’s currently scratched by Catan.
It’s a card game that’s comprised of a deck that’s broken down into small piles of six (and sometimes more) cards that you can buy to add to your own tableau. Players take turns rolling a six sided die, hoping to roll the number of one of their tableau cards. If they do, they’ll typically make some money, either from the bank or from other players.
Turns are very simple. Roll, grab your money (or not), buy something. Some cards will also let you pick up money on other players rolls, so even when it’s not your turn, you may score some coin – which is where the Catan comparison comes in. The idea behind all this? Be the first player to build all four of your “landmark” cards. These are a set of expensive cards (identical for each player) that each grant the player special powers.
That’s all there is to it, and while it doesn’t sound all that exciting, it’s a really fun, elegant little system. Games are over in about 30 minutes. While this isn’t a deep game by any stretch of the imagination – it would easily work as a nice opener, or a gateway game for non-gamers. I suspect this is also a game that would work very well with younger gamers. The suggested age is 7 and up, and while I don’t often believe the posted age suggestions on the game box – I believe that Machi Koro would easily work with a seven year old.
It may not be the masterpiece that all the hype would have you believe, but Machi Koro is nice light fare, and it seems primed for possible expansions – which would be awesome.