Machi Koro is a property-based board game involving a deceptive amount of thought and a great deal of luck. To best compare it to a similar westernised game, it is a simplified foreign version of Monopoly. The game was created in 2012 by Japanese company Grounding Inc, designed by Masao Suganuma and illustrated by Noboru Hotta.
The game is relatively basic and easy to pick up on first introduction. It involves the buying of properties that are each given a different value. The properties have varied values, each of which employs the high-risk, high-return philosophy.
Players operate in a capitalist society with the aim to create the greatest infrastructure that in turn creates wealth.
Game play includes the use of one regular die to begin the game, and a second die that is introduced later on. Like just about any game involving dice ever invented, it is the fortune of the roll that determines ones inevitable rise or fall.
The first player to obtain six required landmarks is deemed to be the winner.
The game layout and features are bright, colourful, animated and somewhat childish. These elements make for a positive and enjoyable game play experience. From my first run through I was made abundantly clear of how new players naturally approach the game play. These user-friendly characteristics almost subconsciously reduce the input and depth of thought a player uses in the game. Fortunately this was not a problem for me as I’m extremely competitive and was determined to win from the first roll. I believe that this initial relaxed approach to the game would gradually fade from a player’s attitude as they continue to play in the future.
One key criticism of the game play I have is the inability to voluntarily trade properties that are owned. Further to this, players are unable to mortgage and sell properties. Once the property is purchased it is theirs to keep until the end of the game. While this simplifies the game, which is a key element in its success, this illogical approach to a property-based game makes fair competition difficult. It limits the potential of the game and the interaction between players. If properties could be sold and traded it would introduce bartering and negotiation that would further enhance the enjoyment of the game play.
Another problem is the inability to formally declare bankruptcy. If a successful player is owed money by an opposition player that can’t pay the debt, they simply skip their turn without loss. Due to the aforementioned point of the inability to mortgage and trade properties, the played owed the debt receives NOTHING! A little harsh…
A vital card in the game is the business centre card. The card allows its owner to trade any of their properties for an opposition player’s property when a six is rolled. While it is one of the more upper market properties, its expense is no more than any other high-value card. It can be used on multiple occasions, making its value incredibly high and therefore is a clear inconsistency in the game. I believe the card holds no place in the game as its value influences the flow of the game on far too great a scale.
Machi Koro is packaged in a square box and is sold for around $50.00 AUD. Distribution costs vary around the $5.00AUD however the pricing can varying at different stages of the year.
Machi Koro is highly enjoyable and can be genuinely enjoyed by almost all ages. Its greatest attribute is its friendly layout and ease of game play, however this characteristic is also to blame for a few of its inconsistencies. The game lacks several fundamental principles of property-based games, creating illogical flow of play in various areas.