Machi Koro Legacy is the brand new edition of Pandasaurus Games’ dice rolling family board game. Designed by Rob Daviau (one of the people behind Pandemic Legacy), JR Honeycutt and Masao Suganuma, the game sees 2 – 4 players building up a town. Across 10 linked games players will spend 30 minutes at a time earning coins, building landmarks and unlocking new content. The legacy treatment on other titles has resulted in some amazing experiences. However, does Machi Koro suit the changes? Let’s find out!
The core experience is the same as the original game. Players start with only 3 coins to their name and some lacklustre buildings. Each building type has a value of 1 – 12 assigned to it, as well as something that occurs. The effect can range from earning coins only when you roll, or on an opponent’s turn, through to stealing coins from another player. On a player’s turn they roll the dice or just one die. All players then use that number to activate cards of that value, following the Your Turn/Opponent’s Turn limitations.
The active player only is then able to either purchase a new establishment card to add to their tableau or a landmark. Increasing your tableau is a great way to earn more when specific numbers are rolled. It is also useful to spread your luck. By having more numbers the chance one of the values you want comes up increases. As a rough rule the numbers about 7 have higher coin returns. Therefore players will often start off rolling a die to trigger low cards but using coins to buy 7 – 12 valued cards before rolling both dice on their turns.
Each game players have access to four landmarks. Landmarks can be built by all players, so there isn’t a rush for individual landmarks, unlike the establishment cards which can run out. However, the game is instantly won by the player that builds the set of four landmarks. As far as the basic game goes this is the end of the gameplay. This is not just the basic game though and at the end of each game the legacy aspect of Machi Koro Legacy comes into effect.
Without giving away specific content this will see new cards come into play, others leave play and often includes a player choice. This is where winning has an instant benefit, throughout the experience. New establishment cards often have two sides to them. As a generic example, one side may be earning coins on your turn, with the other side about taking coins from an opponent. The winner marks the side of the cards that they wish to enter play. If you’re an aggressive player that loves to steal coins, or hates this aspect, by winning you can somewhat impact what becomes available. This is certainly not the only way the game changes, with new landmarks and buildings the tip of the iceberg. For the specifics you’ll have to play to discover them.
Perhaps it is the competitive nature of the game or the much shorter game length. It could be the way the game evolves with the changes sometimes straight swaps or simple additions. There are a few potential reasons, regardless of which, there is never an attachment grown between players and their town. Even after the 10th game each town can be identical, with the opportunity for personal choice impacting the town left to the individual games. This does however allow Machi Koro Legacy to be played beyond the final story game.
A loose narrative ties the games together, giving a slight meaning to why new components, elements or mechanisms have been introduced. It may not be possible to create a masterpiece across the handful of cards used to develop the story. Nevertheless, other legacy games such as Pandemic Legacy Season 1 managed something vastly more compelling. It can be easily forgotten and even skipped, with only the new rules introduced needing to be read aloud.
The components of the game are mostly secret at the offset of the 10 game campaign. With 3 large decks and 6 boxes of content to be slowly unveiled, players start with only player boards, dice, coins and a basic deck of cards. What players will start out with is what they would find in the original Machi Koro and nothing more. Progressing through the deck more cards of the same strong production quality will be revealed. Each card is clearly laid out, with a minor use of icons and text, beneath almost cute artwork. Being all about cards and dice, the cards themselves are certainly a strength of Machi Koro Legacy.
As with any game where new things are unveiled there is an excitement caused by opening boxes and going through the legacy decks. The unknown of what’s to come plays a big part in this. Though some content from the large boxes did make us question the sizing – with plenty of air in the box with the new component. Regardless of the reasonings for the new elements to the game it does result in each game feeling different, with a constant stream of new content. Each game is somewhat fresh with landmarks only being around for a few games and different objectives coming into play.
While the rulebook doesn’t suggest it, new players may want to play a couple of pre-Legacy games. It is far from compulsory as the game doesn’t drastically shift with changes after only one game. That being said, having played the original the knowledge of how the game plays helped us hit the ground running. Even one game would be enough, just so everyone can learn before winning or losing the first legacy game.
Machi Koro shows that more games could work with the legacy treatment. In this case, the story is lacking and some of the contents were underwhelming. However, the fact that each game in the 10 games is slightly different from the last, without straying from the core Machi Koro experience, is a great strength. Plus, players are left with a playable title at the end, to keep on enjoying. One sign that it does enough is that once equipped with this post legacy version there is little draw to ever return to the original. If you’re a fan of Machi Koro then this could be a legacy game for you to get to that post campaign version, it just isn’t a totally inspiring journey past the experience of unlocking content.
(Editor’s Note: Machi Koro Legacy was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. The game is currently available from local board game stores, find your local store here.)