TableTopTakes: Machi Koro Bright Lights Big City

I talked a tiny bit about this game in my AcadeCon review, but I wanted to mention it again and do a proper review on it.

Machi Koro is what is called a “tableau building” game. Where you are building up a group of cards/tiles/etc in front of you, almost as your own personal game board. With this board you gain resources to purchase more cards until you either score enough points, or in the case of Machi Koro, build the special buildings for your city.

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Machi Koro is a game that is more focused around the mechanics than any sort of theme. It really could be almost anything, but the theme of the game is that you’re building up a city. And when dice are rolled you get money. For example. if you have a bakery (which is one of the starting cards) and you roll a 2 or a 3 on your turn, you get a coin from the bakery. You could look at it as taxes or more fun as the business making money and you’re a business mogul (I guess). The coins can then be used to buy more cards which, if you roll the right number on your turn, get you more coins. You’re looking to build special buildings that cost various amounts and the first person to build all of their special buildings wins the games. It would be possible to just keep your base buildings and build up your money and buy stuff that way, but that wouldn’t be any fun and you’d probably lose horribly. So you’re looking to make the most profitable town for you that you can so you can eventually get an amusement part or a city mall or a harbor into your city, and these cards then give you special abilities that help you, such as being able to roll two dice and taking the combined total so that you can get the rewards from some of your better cards that might need an 8 or 9 to be rolled.

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This game is a lot like Splendor in many ways. Splendor has a tableau building mechanic in there and that’s how you get build up your system to get better cards that are worth more points. I think I like this game better, because it is more thematic, though it’s not very thematic. Also, with the rolling of dice, it allows you to have luck go your way sometimes. Maybe you don’t diversify your numbers, so you really need to have a five rolled, but when it is rolled it’s amazing or you. Splendor is a little bit too static and I think Machi Koro, while using a similar feeling, makes it feel like more of a game where you’re waiting to see what you’ve rolled. It’s a bit of excitement that can be missing at times for Splendor.

Overall, I like the concept of this game, I like the mechanics of this game, and I like the weight of this game. After having playing RPG’s all weekend, it was a nice digestif to wrap up with. Only one person knew the game, they got it up and running fast for the rest of us, and turns go quickly (and you can collect coins sometimes on other peoples turns) so everyone was involved. I think it would be a good game to wrap up a board game night with, or even start off a board game night before going to something heavier. This is an aperitif or digestif of a game, which is something that is hard to come by.

Overall Grade: B+

Gamer Grade: C+

Casual Grade: A

Have you played Machi Koro Bright Lights Big City or original Machi Koro? If so, what did you think of it? Is it better than Splendor?

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