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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Machi Koro - Japanese Card Game

Want to play a game?

This one, well, the game is fun for dad and mother and sis can trouble her mean old brother - no, it's not the classic board game Trouble, but rather the hot new Japanese card game called Machi Koro from Grounding Inc. (or from IDW Games or Pandersaurus Games outside of Japan).

By the way... even though I was never lucky enough to play Trouble, I do have the whole Trouble commercial memorized from back in the 1970s when I first saw it on TV. Yes...I have a damn fine memory for things from a long time ago... but what I had for lunch today.... oh, boy. That's not as easy. Long term memory has always been a strength (and a weakness).

I have included images from both the Japanese and English versions, but I understand that there are other multiple language editions available!

So... what the heck is Machi Koro?

Machi means "Town", and Koro... well... saikoro means dice, so perhaps 'koro' is a short form of die/dice. Of course, I have also heard that koro could also be one of those words that sounds like a sound... an  onomatopoeia for a small clattering sound - in this case the sound dice makes when it is rolled.

Machi Koro, a city-building card and dice game by designer Suganuma Masao (surname first), is the latest in this succession of miniaturized games. Card art is by Hotta Noboru (surname first).

The card game starts you and your adversaries as a small town mayor... but you have big dreams to build a city. The problem is, you start with each of you owning a wheat field and bakery.

The game is over when one of you first completes a town/city containing four major landmarks: a train station; shopping mall; amusement park and; a radio tower, which should take one of you about 30-minutes of fun game play.

To do this, you have to purchase new buildings, which also gives you the chance of earning money for your town.

Japanese version of Machi Koro, like all other versions, gives you instructions, dice, money and cards.
With a roll of the dice, you find out which, if any, of your buildings will provide you with money:
  • Bakeries pay one coin if you roll a two or three - because the bakery card is listed as a 2-3 card;
  • Convenience stores pay three coins if you roll a four - convenience store cards are listed as a 4 card. 
  • Cafes  - well... if you own one, but during someone else's turn they roll a three, it activates YOUR cafe card - and they pay you. 
See the image above? At the top of each card is the die/dice roll you will need to get paid.

Multiple copies (multiple cards held by you) of the same building pay out repeatedly, so if you have three Convenience stores and you roll a four, you would get nine coins - which is a lot.

How do you buy cards? well, the price of each property card is written in the bottom left - in the golden circle (see cards below). The Forest (blue card) costs three coins, a Business Center (purple card on right) costs eight coins. 

Machi Koro - English-language cards.
Your skill comes in determining if you want to be the type of mayor who builds a city that has one revenue generator that gives you a big pay-out if you can roll the number required, or do you wan to be the play it safe mayor who gets little pockets of coin from a bunch of small buildings?

Is that all there is? Of course not - that would be boring!

Now, while owning such properties as Wheat Fields of Cattle Ranches don't give you big payouts, you should know that along with generating money on your turn, they generate money on your opponents turn, too!

(It's like owning property in Monopoly, and someone lands on your property and they now have to pay rent!)

What if you have only Mines or Forests? Just like in real life they can offer some payout immediately, but the real score is that they will allow you to build those big factories eventually that will provide big money generation!

More examples of the Japanese-language cards of Machi Koro.
What about owning Cafes or Restaurants? They only generate money for you if an opponent activates them... it's your eating establishment - they pay you for the food. It's a simplification of the game, but let's just say there are multiple ways to win (and lose) a game.

How should you play to win? Maybe have lots of Cattle Farms and a Cheese Factory that gets its milk from them - that will generate money?

Maybe you could have lots of Cafes? People love their coffee - and they pay you on their turn - especially useful if you are playing against three other players...

Plenty of strategies... plenty of ways to become mayor. Plenty of ways to have a family game night.

Has it caught your fancy? It has mine... here's a YouTube video showing how to play Machi Koro:
Andrew Joseph

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