Recently, my husband and I had the opportunity to try out Machi Koro, a city-building card game out of Japan that has seen a resurgence in popularity with its re-release in the US.
This game was so popular before its US release that people were creating their own translation cards (from the Japanese game) and printing them at home to play with. When the awesome folks at Card Kingdom suggested we give it a go, we sat down over dinner at Cafe Mox and gave it a whirl.
The game plays with a similar mechanic to other deck builders in that you spend money to buy cards to build a deck, but it adds the city-building element to the game in that your “deck” is really a city you are building, made up of bakeries, cafes, wheat farms, TV stations, etc.
The cards themselves are cute (as is the game’s art) and their “powers” or mechanics are pretty interesting. The problem with this game is that is has all the randomness of a true dice game like Yahtzee. Your dice rolls completely control what happens. Case in point, my husband set out from the get-go with a solid strategy (he’s usually able to catch on to those before I do–must have something to do with his specialization in algorithms). I set out intentionally without one (I wanted to get a feel for the randomness of the game with the dice rolls).
Guess who won?
By logic, my husband should have won. He had the best cards in multiples, he had strategy, but I had better dice rolls. So by complete luck of the dice rolls, I won.
To me, that’s the sign of a broken or flawed game.
We did enjoy the game despite it being heavily lucked base, but I wish the dice didn’t play such a heavy role in the game. One of the perks of Dominion, Ascension, and other deck building games is that you can form a strategy and follow it. No luck dice to toss strategy out the window. 🙂