23rd May 2021
It's a Sunday and I'm logged into Skype and Board Game Arena, ready for an evening of gaming.
The first game of the night was Happy City, a cheerful looking, light engine-building card game about building up a city, a happy city no less.
Caveat: We've only played this game digitally on Board Game Arena.
What's in a game?
Symbols are clear and easy to read.
How's it play?
At it's core, Happy City is a tableau-building game, adding cards increases income or score.
In Happy City, the starting player's first turn is slightly different to subsequent turns, as explained below.
Happy City has 2 levels of play; family & expert. This blog describes the family version.
The expert game differs in 2 ways.
All the happy market cards are flipped to their differently coloured sides and laid out, then the players draft one to become the starting card in their tableau and giving them some choice in how they start the game.
Special buildings also differ; the family Special cards give players a boost to their income, happiness or population. The expert special cards however, are different, they confer different benefits, sometimes variable and situational.
The game continues until a player has 10 cards in their tableau, upon which the current round continues until all players have had an equal number of turns.
Each player's score is calculated by multiplying the total value of happiness symbols in their tableau by all the population symbols.
Highest score wins.
Gameplay in Happy City gives players the choice between increasing income or accumulating happiness/population. Income will give the player more buying power but happiness/population contributes towards the end score.
Having 3 decks of building cards at different cost ranges is an interesting mechanic when it comes to drawing cards. The player will always have the option to draw 1 or 2 cards, higher level cards will be better, but may prove more risky to draw. E.g., If a player has 4 coins, drawing a level 1 card will be safe as level 1 cards only cost 1-3 coins each, level 2 cards cost 4-5 coins, so there's a risk that a level 2 card will be unaffordable and will have been drawn pointlessly. It can give players a quandary when drawing building cards.
The game's scoring mechanic also adds an extra layer to decisions, failing to pay attention to how the points are spread between happiness/population can lead to lost scoring opportunities.
While Happy City is simple to learn, enjoyable and fast to play, making it a good filler game, it's perhaps also a little too basic for dedicated gamers. After a few games it was fairly easy to spot an optimal strategy to pursue and it became a race to develop that strategy. So I feel that the game doesn't offer a lot of longevity.
Ultimately, because it's such a light game, it's probably a good game for families or more casual players which is probably who the game is aimed at.
We also played the expert level a few times but felt like it added little to the game.
The varied happy markets are nice and offered a little extra strategy but the expert level special cards weren't so good. The problem was that they seemed harder to acquire than the family special cards, which meant they were acquired later in the game and therefore their benefits were limited, we found it wasn't worth specifically trying to get one, getting one by happenstance was fine, but then that sort of makes having a choice of starting happy market card pointless.
We enjoyed the family version more.
The family version is a game I'd play, but not too often.
24th March 2021
It's a Wednesday evening and I'm logged into Zoom and Board Game Arena on my PC.
It was time for a game that spanned the ages and the creation of massive monuments and the civilisations they represented. Luckily, it doesn't take that long to play 7 Wonders!
Caveat: We played the game online but have previously played the physical copy. Photos were taken for this blog post.
What's in a game?
The purpose of the game is for each player to create their own civilisation through the construction of various types of buildings and ultimately create one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.
7 Wonders is card game played over 3 sets of rounds (or ages). Each age has its own set of cards which are used. There are numerous types of cards, some of these types can be more or less common in different ages.
The text and icons are all mostly clear (I tended to confuse stone and ore icons, because the ore icon looks like a pile of stone to me.), the symbology used for special rules on cards is also generally clear, the rulebook does a good job on clarifying these in cases of confusion.
I also like how the layout allows cards to be more or less stacked while still displaying pertinent information.
In terms of art quality, the wonder boards are quite large and very nicely decorated in eye-catching illustrations of the 7 titular wonders. Art on the cards are of a similar quality but obviously on a smaller scale.
How's it play?
7 Wonders is a 3-7 player game but also contains some special rules to allow 2 player games. This blog post talks about the normal 3-7 player game.
On to play
Each player in 7 Wonders is neighboured by a player to their left and right; why this is important will be explained below.
Each player takes a card from their hand and plays face down in front of them, then they pass the remaining cards clockwise to the next player, the direction of play alternates between rounds.
Once every player has chosen a card, all player then simultaneously reveal their card, plays it and executes one of the 3 actions below.
Once all players have completed their action, everyone picks up their new hand of cards and play continues as described until all players have used 6 cards each, the 7th card is never used and is discarded out of the game. The game has reached the end of the round, now conflicts are resolved.
Once conflict has been resolved for age 3, the game is over only scoring is left.
Victory points can be scored from a variety of sources, once these are tallied, highest score wins.
I'm going to nit-pick a couple of things about 7 Wonders.
Set up feels a little long for a game that's quite short, having to sift through all 3 decks at the game start feels irritating, probably because there's 3 decks to construct instead of 1 and if the player count changes between games, then all 3 decks will need to be rebalanced.
The game is quite involved and perhaps a little too complicated for its expected playtime. I found myself frequently forgetting the rule about chaining buildings
Scoring is convoluted, specifically scoring the scientific cards where each symbol will scored twice. I wouldn't be surprised that more time was spent making sure this was correct than the rest of the scoring.
Like other drafting games of this style, early in the game players will struggle to decide what's going to be important to them or not, but by looking at their wonder board, players will see what they need to build their wonder and what benefits it gives them as some guidance.
One interesting feature about 7 Wonders is how players can pay to utilise their neighbours resources and goods and of course, players will want to keep and eye on their neighbours' military forces. It's a nice little spin that adds to the game.
Since there are 7 ways to score points, players will have a lot of options on which strategy to pursue.
For example, civic buildings give a lot of victory points, but nothing else.
Military strength can score a lot of points (and cost your neighbours a few), but only if you dominate, getting caught in a war of escalation can be distracting and costly.
Quibbles aside, 7 Wonders is a straightforward game to learn that has a quick turnaround and is a fun game to play, players will want to strategize, but the luck of the draw means they will need to adapt to circumstances.
The game always provides players with meaningful choices, which is what you want.
20th October 2020
Tuesday evening in Woking at 'The Sovereigns'.
Time for a boardgame with the Woking Gaming Club.
Tonight's game was 'Ride the Rails'.
Now Ride the Rails looks like a traditional railroad building game set in North America, but it has a few wrinkles that make it play a bit differently.
What's in a game?
Some of the components will seem familiar to any that's played a railroad building game
You may have noticed that I mentioned shares, but there are no components for shares and no money either. Well, more on that below...
How's it play?
Ride the Rails is played over 6 rounds.
It's important to know that there are only 2 train companies (Red & blue.) available from round 1. The orange becomes available from round 2, yellow from round 3, purple from round 4 and black from round 5. No new companies appear in the 6th and final round.
Additionally, each company has it's own rules for the placement of train meeples.
A round consists of 3 actions, which all players will carry out.
Play continues until the 6th round has been completed. Final scores are tallied, highest score wins.
As you can see, Ride the Rails is pretty straightforward and simple to understand, it also plays quite quickly.
Don't let the simplicity fool you though, there is a fair a amount of depth here.
Firstly; Ride the Rails has the classic dichotomy in which competing players may need to cooperate. If more than one player has spent a turn investing in a certain company, it's to both their benefits to expand that company efficiently.
Being able to gauge which shares will generate the most points is vital to winning, if a player manages to get 2 or 3 shares (Out of their 6) in a rail line that will see a lot of use, they can potentially rake in a lot of points. If a player however invests too quickly in a single company, it can scare off players who might perceive they are helping another player too much. Remember, 2 players can build up a network much quicker than a single player.
Secondly, building rail networks. In the first round, red and blue train meeples can only start in east coast cities and must more or less head west.
Should a player create a meandering network that maximises connections?
Or should they race towards the west coast? No single rail company can cross the entire map, it will probably take the efforts of 3 companies to do that and this will involve crossing the mountains.
This means it's unlikely that more than 2 companies will connect the east and the west. Making this connection first can be very lucrative, it forces other players to either use the rail network you've got shares in, or waste time building a separate network and just like with shares, each player will only have 6 opportunities to build their network.
I think that Ride the Rails is a good game, that has a lot of elements that will be familiar to experienced gamers but actually plays a bit differently.
You buy shares, you just take them and you don't pay to expand a rail network, it just happens. There is no money in the game in fact, money immediately translates into points.
I definitely want to try Ride the Rails again.
13th October 2020
Tuesday is here and we're at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking.
Time for the Woking Gaming Club to play a game and tonight we will be playing 'The Networks'.
This is a game for the budding media mogul inside everybody; create TV shows, hire film stars, fire chat show hosts, stick advert breaks everywhere, well at least during primetime! Fun for everyone.
When we played The Networks, a couple of expansions were also used.
What's in a game?
The Networks is a card game that has some nice additional components.
All the other components are standard, except the money tokens which are cool.
How's it play?
The Networks is played over 5 'seasons'.
At the start of each season, TV show, star and advert cards a dealt in 3 rows.
Network cards are only dealt out from the 2nd season onwards.
After this, in turn order, players take 1 action each. This continues until there are no more actions that can be performed or all players have chosen to finish for the season, this is called 'drop & budget'.
The actions are:
The game continues for 5 seasons, at the end of the 5th season the shows are still aged. Then a 6th season is scored (No new cards or other actions occur).
Accumulated audience figures are tallied, highest score wins.
The Networks has some cool design choices that give players interesting decisions to make.
A player can keep going and acquire more stars and adverts for as long as they've got money, which can give them an advantage later on because having these cards in their Green Room means that it's easier and quicker to develop shows. But ending your season early gives you more money/audience, more importantly though, it allows the player to be earlier in the turn order for the following season. So when the new cards appear, that player will get first dibs.
Because the game is very much about card drafting, players really have to think about how they prioritize their actions, as all players will be vying for the same cards.
Players have to try and use their actions as efficiently as possible, there's a fine balance between doing all the actions you want to do and ending your turn quickly.
All in all, The Networks gives players important decisions to make throughout the game and that's a good thing.
10th March 2020
Tuesday is here and we're at 'The Sovereigns in Woking with the Gaming Club.
The first game of the evening was 'Quacks of Quedlinburg'.
Quacks of QuedlinBurg is not a game about ducks as I thought when I first heard the name.
It's actually a push your luck game about disreputable, dangerous, deplorable and downright dishonest doctors. Actually YOU play the quacks in question trying to create the most amazing and wondrous potions. Amazing and wondrous that is, until they blow up in your face.
What's in a game?
Quacks of Quedlinburg has quite a few components, there is a game board and personal game boards. There are also tokens - and lots of them too, as they are the most important component of the game.
That the player boards look like pots, flask tiles look like potion bottles and ingredient tiles look like ingredient books shows that some thought, effort and care has been put into the their design.
How's it play?
Quacks of Quedlinburg is played over 9 rounds and something new or different is introduced over several of the rounds.
When players are drawing ingredients from their bag. They can use their flask to return the token to the bag - provided they had not gone bust because of the token.
Play continues normally until the start of the 9th round.
The final round is a little different.
When drawing a token from their bags, each player keeps the token in a closed hand and every player opens their hand at the same time. When a player wants to stop drawing tokens they simply keep their empty hand closed until it's time to reveal it. After that they drop out of further rounds of drawing ingredients.
The phases for spending coins on ingredients and rubies on the droplet/flask are ignored because they are pointless at the end of the game.
Instead; every 5 coins and/or 2 rubies will earn the player a victory point.
After this, victory points are tallied, highest score wins.
Quacks of Quedlinburg is a fairly easy game to learn and easy to play. It moves along briskly too as there's very little downtime and it doesn't outstay its welcome as it's finished after 9 rounds. When I played it, it felt like a lot was occurring in a short game time.
Pulling ingredients out a bag to put into a pot is a brilliant use of the 'push your luck' mechanic. It fits the game perfectly and surprisingly makes it a lot of fun.
Additionally; unlike most 'push your luck' games, going bust does not totally kill a player's turn, they still reap some of rewards of their potion making and they can still carry out most of the other actions.
The engine building mechanic works well too, as players introduce tokens into their bags, it makes going bust a little harder, giving players longer more productive turns.
Combined, the 2 game mechanics always gives the player meaningful and interesting decisions to make, when to and when not to push your luck? What ingredients to buy? And so on.
I liked it and will definitely play it again.
11th February 2020
Tuesday night with the gaming club at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking continues.
The final game of the night was 'Glory to Rome'.
Glory to Rome is a game about the glory of Rome, well sort of. It's a game about rebuilding Rome after the 'great fire of 64 A.D.'.
Become a leader of Rome by building fountains, villas and statues, even the Basilica! Of course, players also get to build a latrine... glory to Rome indeed. Well... I guess someone has to!
Glory to Rome is an engine building card game which has an interesting central premise; which is that the function of cards change in the context of how they're used. This isn't something new or unique to Glory to Rome, however I've not seen it used as extensively as in this game.
What's in a game
Glory to Rome has a lot of cards and some of these cards serve multiple functions.
By far the biggest stack of cards in the game, order cards have multiple uses:
When constructing a building, it needs a site to lay the 'foundation' on. There are site cards for each of the 6 different types of material. Site cards are covered in stripes
These cards are 'jack-of-all-trades'. They are wildcards.
Rome demands card
This oversized card goes in the centre of the playing area and is a discard pile/pool for order cards.
There are 6 bonus cards, one for each type of material. When scoring at the end, the player who has the highest amount of a material in their Vault acquires it's bonus card. Each bonus card is worth 3 victory points.
Used to represent the first player in a round.
That's it for cards.
Player boards (Or camp board.) serve 2 functions. They are a player aid and they also track certain cards and actions the players have played. The boards track influence, clientele, stockpile & vault.
The quality of the components is pretty standard, nothing standout, but by no means nothing bad either.
The art on the cards is minimal, almost simplistic and feels a little bit amateurish. It does however, give the cards a distinct look, is uncluttered and clean looking. I guess it's down to taste.
How's it play?
Setup is pretty simple.
Whoever is the first player decides to either 'lead'... or think!
When all players have completed their actions, all cards that were played as role cards are placed in the pool. Any Jacks played are returned to their stack.
Play proceeds to the next turn and the Leader card moves to the player to the left.
That's the basics out of the way, now on to what the role cards actually do.
The player board has 4 sides and each side has a function.
I think that is more or less it for most rules.
There are several criteria that trigger the end of the game.
Play continues until all site cards for all materials have been used, out-of-town site cards do not count towards this.
The deck of order cards is depleted.
The catacomb building is completed.
The Forum Romanum is built and the player who built it has at least one of each type client in Clientele and one of each material type in their Stockpile. If this occurs, then that player wins an outright victory! Victory points are not tallied!
When any of these conditions are met the game immediately ends and points are tallied (Except in the case of a Forum Romanum victory.).
Players score 1 point for each Influence point.
Players score the cards hidden in their Vault.
Players score bonus cards for the materials in their Vault.
All victory points are tallied, highest score wins.
Glory to Rome is pretty straightforward to learn once you get your head around the central premise that your hand represents, people, buildings, materials and more.
Like other games that use similar mechanics, it forces players to make difficult decisions on what cards to use for what.
Glory to Rome is an engine building game on 2 tiers.
How cards are placed on the player board on the Clientele side is essentially building an engine. Giving players extra or bonus actions.
Placing buildings is the other way of building an engine.
Together they give players quite a few options to explore.
The game's owner stated that certain cards can break the game, but that wasn't my experience when we played it. Upon looking at some cards after the game ended, I could see what he meant though.
Glory to Rome also asks players to watch each other and see what they do and in particular, what they put in to the pool. The pool is the best source of cards - provided it has what you need and you have the cards to get them.
Glory to Rome is perhaps a little too long to play for what it is, but otherwise it's a fun game.
9th February 2020
It's a Sunday and we're at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking. There's no 50 Fathoms this week as 3 players are absent.
Instead we are playing 'Puerto Rico'.
William Shakespeare wrote:
All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.
Well if you happen to play a plantation owner in Puerto Rico, you will play 7 roles, I dunno about 7 acts though.
What's in a game?
The quality of the components is mostly quite good.
What artwork there is in the game is OK, but it's not particularly memorable or interesting.
How's it play?
As always, we begin with setup. It looks quite long, but it's actually straightforward.
In Puerto Rico there are 2 ways to earn victory points; by shipping goods out and buying buildings.
Each round, in turn order, each player will assume 1 of the 7 roles and carry out the action associated with that role. When a player chooses a role, all players can the also carry out that action, but the player who chose the role can do it's bonus action instead. When players chose a role, they take the relevant role card from the display.
The roles are:
Players return their role cards and the next player in turn becomes the new first player and a new round begins.
There remains one last thing to discuss - what function do buildings serve. Firstly, they earn player points. Some buildings are necessary to process goods. Other buildings confer bonuses when trading and shipping or allow players to 'break the rules' in some way or other. Finally, the 5 large buildings give extra victory points according to the conditions on each individual large building tile.
There are 3 manners in which the endgame can be triggered.
Players then tally their scores, highest value wins.
Puerto Rico is not a complicated game, but it is a fairly involved one and the rules are fairly detailed. The game has minimal 'downtime' as it allows players to act in other player's turns. This keeps players on their toes, being able to take advantage of another player's role is key to optimising strategy.
It's also a game of very little luck. The only random element is drawing the plantation tiles, everything else is down to player actions and choices.
Talking of choices, the game mostly provides players with useful and meaningful decisions to make. There's always the balancing act caused by there being one too many actions that players will want to do, pushing them into making tricky choices.
The trading and shipping rules give Puerto Rico a little bit of a competitive edge. Players need to watch what each other are doing, because as mentioned above, a decision that the active player makes can aid another player.
Since the trading tile and ship tiles are not emptied until full and even then only at the end of their respective actions. Players can screw each other (And themselves to be fair.) by initiating trading or shipping at particular times, this can and probably will deny certain players the benefits of trading or shipping. After all there are 5 types of good, but only 4 spaces on the trading tile and 3 ships.
Since the game has 2 ways of scoring points. There are broadly speaking, 2 strategies for winning.
These are; accumulate victory points by shopping goods out, or buy buildings and accumulate victory points that way.
In the few times, we've played it recently, it seems to be that acquiring buildings might be a better way of accumulating victory points. Perhaps the trading approach has a harder learning curve?
This is about the only negative I can think about the game.
But other than this, Puerto Rico is a game that rewards thoughtful play and that's always a good thing.
28th January 2020
Tuesday is here and we're at 'The Sovereigns' in Woking to play board games.
Popular opinion states that most restaurant fail in the first year, so running one is hard work (And believe me I know!). What could be harder? Running a whole chain of restaurants!
That's where 'Food Chain Magnate' comes in. Now you too can know what it's like to run restaurants without all the 'fun' of inconsistent staff, irritating customers, infuriating regulations and interfering local authorities.
What's in a game?
There's quite a lot to Food Chain Magnate and quite a lot of components too.
How's it play?
A round of Food Chain Magnate is played over 7 rounds.
Play continues until all the allotted money from the 'bank' supply is depleted, in which case any remaining money is paid out from the reserve supply.
The player who has accumulated the most money, wins.
Food Chain Magnate markets itself as a 'heavy' game and it's not kidding.
The aim of the game is to build housing and create marketing campaigns, this generates a demand for whatever particular food & drink the player decides advertise.
Then the player produces the relevant food & drink to fill that demand, this equals profit.
Except it's not so simple.
There is a lot to think here and all of it is important.
How a player structures their company is crucial. All of the other actions options will become avaialable based on the staff cards that you recruit and play.
A lot to think about.
You need food? Pizza chefs will produce pizza and burger chefs will produce burgers.
You want drinks? You need an errand boy to go and collect them.
Want to be more competitively priced? Get a pricing manager.
Need an advertising campaign. You'll have to get marketing staff.
Want to place more housing? A business developer is what you need.
Your staff need training to be more effective? Trainers are what you need.
You got too many staff? Get more managers!
Need to recruit people even quicker? Recruiters are what's needed.
And so on.
Marketing needs to be targeted. There are different types of marketing that target a player's audience at different 'ranges' and they tend to be of varying length. Players will need to optimise creating their demand.
Advertising can have a real sting in the tail. Because other players can benefit from it too. If one player creates a demand for burgers and another player then opens a burger joint closer to the housing that's been targeted, then the customers will go there instead (Customers have absolutely no loyalty!). Or if another player slashes the price of their burgers, then other restaurants will be ignored.
Sly players will definitely try and exploit other player's marketing.
This brings me to 'pricing'. This is a great game mechanic. Instinctively, players will want to increase prices to generate more revenue. But a player really needs to undercut their opponents, because less profit is better than no profit. Pricing is a real race to the bottom and forces players to make horrible choices - always a good thing!
Players will also need to think about food & drink production, as more and more demand appears, players will need to get better and better at production to meet that demand. Also, as demands get more complex, fulfilling those demands gets equally as complex (A house's demands cannot be only partially fulfilled and must be fully met.).
And don't forget milestones, the benefits they can confer can be very important.
When we played this game, the owner explained to us that he thinks at the start there's a couple of different routes to follow for 'opening moves' that there are 'no brainer' moves (These are to do with milestones.). It seems some of the milestones can be completed in the first couple of turns and only the first player(s) that complete them get the benefit, not following the 'no brainer' moves means a player can lose out on those benefits.
This implies that early moves (Or mistakes really!) can affect the entire game.
I'm not sure how I feel about this? I don't like 'no brainers', because what they do is remove choice from a game. On the other hand, maybe it was overstated. I guess the game would need to be played multiple times to see if this is the case
All of this contributes to make Food Chain Magnate a deep game that requires a lot of forethought and strategy. There is no luck or chance in this game. If you like genuinely heavy games, this may interest you.
For me though, I found it to be a little bit difficult to play the game on all the levels it required and mostly ignored the marketing side. It felt a strangely unengaging game, perhaps it was the theme?
7th January 2020
It's the first Tuesday of the year and we're NOT at 'The Sovereigns' (Which is closed for refitting.), instead we're at 'The Wheatsheaf' in Woking for board gaming.
Tonight, we're playing Taverns of Tief....err?
Taverns of Tiefe... err?
It's a game where you run a pub!
So this game tries it's best squeeze in as many game mechanics as it can.
Deck building - yep. Card drafting - yep. Dice drafting - yep. Dice placement - yep. Resource management - yep. Hidden Role - y... wait no, that's about the only thing missing!
What's in a game?
So Taverns of Tiefenthal comes with some optional extras or expansions, apparently we used all of them in the game we played. So there's a lot of components.
Many of the game's components are made of nice and thick card stock, including the beer mats. The artwork is quite nice and colour and there's some nice detail on the tavern board and tiles.
How's it play?
We begin with setup.
That covers most of the setup.
Now to explain what does what.
Let's start with the tavern board. Many of the abilities on the board are activated by placing dice of a specific value on them.
Guest cards are acquired by spending beer.
So at last, finally, we get to how the game plays.
Each round is player over several phases.
Play continues for 8 rounds.
Victory points are scored from the cards that players bought
Points are tallied, highest score wins.
Taverns of Tiefenthal requires a lot of explanation (As you can see above), but in play is actually quite straightforward.
It's more of a game about optimizing strategies than complex rules.
The game gives you a lot of choices and options. Occasionally these will be meaningless decisions because of how the dice fall, but most of the time you'll have to choose between different actions.
A player will nearly always have more options available than actions to perform them.
This is makes a good game in my opinion.
There's nothing particularly unique about the game, other than how it blends certain game mechanics together to emulate it's subject quite well. The game's presentation is also very good with well made components and colourful and well produced art.
The game's only drawback is its setup time, there's quite a lot to do. But I think the payoff is worth it as I enjoyed it.
21st September 2019.
It's Saturday evening round at Matakishi's and that can only mean games night!
So here we have 'Machi Koro Legacy'. As the title suggests, this is a legacy version of the very good Machi Koro game.
Don't read any further ahead if you want to play Machi Koro Legacy!
What's a legacy game?
Glad you asked. A legacy game's unique feature is that it is actually a series of play-throughs of the same game. After each game concludes, something changes, is added or removed from the game and that change carries over to the next play-through of the game. Thus you have (In theory.) a game that constantly changes and evolves according to player input.
Machi Koro Legacy is played over 10 games. We played games 1-5 in one night and in total all 10 games were played over 3 evenings.
I'm going to blog about all of the games in this post. Since at the time of writing, these blog posts are about a month behind the actual plays.
If you don't know anything about Machi Koro, you can read my blog about it here.
Have you read it? Good! Now you know all about Machi Koro.
The original Machi Koro has 2 expansions, 'The Harbour' and 'Millionaire's Row'.
Generally we play Machi Koro with The Harbour.
As you would expect, the core mechanics of Machi Koro remain unchanged for the 'legacy' version.
If you didn't actually bother reading my blog about the main game: Here's a quick recap.
The legacy game
I can't really blog about the game in my normal format because the components and rules change throughout the game. So I'll just go through it as best as I can. I'm not going to extensively talk about the original, I'll try to just talk about any differences between 'original' and 'legacy' versions.
Personal game board
This is immediately different. In legacy, each player is given a game board that has the following:
Diamonds are a new currency introduced in Legacy. Players can start a game with diamonds or acquire them during play. Some landmarks and cards can use diamonds for a benefit. But the main use of diamonds is to spend them to re-roll dice rolls.
Double sided establishment cards
These are an entirely new type of game introduced in Legacy.
When a game is concluded, a new type of card is added to the market from the next game onward. These cards are 'double sided'. One side tends to be blue/green and the other red or occasionally purple. The player who just won the concluding game gets to choose which side is used, these cards have tick boxes which can ticked to indicate which side was initially chosen.
During later games, it is possible that a stack of double sided cards can be flipped over to their other side. If this occurs, then it also affects all copies of that card in players' areas! (See below for how 'flipping' can occur.)
Another new introduction to legacy is the 'traveller die', a blank six sided die. What's the point of a blank die you may ask? Well, it doesn't stay blank for long. As games are completed, stickers are added to die. The traveller die is now rolled along with the normal dice. The following stickers are added to the traveller die: Turtle, yokai and moon princess
There 3 travellers each have their own little figure that moves along cards as dictated by the rules for the traveller die.
Another new addition to legacy that appears later in the game is 'the sea'. This is depicted by placing 3 cards in a column in the market area along side the establishment cards. Then, each player receives a boat figurine in their colour and a 12 sided die is introduced into the game. What does this all do? Well, read on:
When the sea has been introduced, islands are next. Islands work in the following way.
During one of the latter games, the players will acquire rockets for their ships and in the 10th and final game, they will travel to the moon in an endeavour to return the moon princess home.
Right that's about it for what's in the game and rules. I've missed out some bits about some cards being removed from play and so on, but that I think is most of it.
The 11th game
Once the 10th game has concluded. The remaining cards can be used to make up a new game of Machi Koro. Having a functioning game afterwards is a nice touch.
I think this blog post I've written about Machi Koro Legacy is going to be the longest blog I've written about a card game so far. I guess a legacy game can complicate things quite a lot and there's quite a lot to process here.
Additionally, I will state that this is the only legacy game I've ever played and I have nothing to compare it to or measure it against. I guess I'll just go through the things listed above and blog my thoughts about them.
Town square cards
I actually quite like this idea, it gives players a meaningful decision to make immediately and can lead to an asymmetrical game start (See below for more on this.).
As your small fishing settlement advances through civilisation to fulfil its destiny of becoming a 'space power', it's only natural that its landmarks will change over time.
So thematically I understand it, but from a game play perspective, I'm ambivalent towards it.
This is partially I think, because I didn't find them particularly interesting or useful. Especially since there's so many of them (10 communal and 12 player landmarks.) and they only hang around for a maximum of 3 games.
Diamonds have several uses in legacy.
Some landmarks allow players to use diamonds for extra turns or for extra cash. They can also be used in conjunction with island cards to acquire establishment cards.
But probably the biggest use of diamonds is for re-rolls.
The original Machi Koro gave players a re-roll once per turn in the form of a landmark that they could purchase.
Legacy take this a step further by giving players the ability to spend multiple diamonds to gain multiple re-rolls.
This has a low impact in the early games, but a high impact in the later games. When a players has 8 diamonds, they spend a long time pondering their many potential re-rolls.
I don't actually mind the game slowing down that much (I'm used to it.).
I dislike how easy it is to just mitigate so many bad rolls. Having to deal with bad rolls is part of what makes Machi Koro what it is.
Double sided establishments
The idea of having dual-function establishments seems like a reasonable idea. It can change up the dynamic of the game a little and doesn't seem to have a negative impact. If only there was a better way to implement them other than the yokai (See Below.).
Legacy adds 3 travellers to the game, as well as an extra die and extra rule to deal with it all. The problem I have with this is that all it does is introduce an extra random element and no game play element. When travellers do move, most of the time it has minimal or no impact on me or the decisions I made.
When the sea was added into legacy, it introduced a fiddly and slightly confusing set of mechanics to the game. Not only that, they're completely alien to Machi Koro's 'style' and lack any elegance. You might as well have added a copy of 'Monopoly' to legacy, they're so different.
Furthermore, when the sea was added to legacy was when the game started to really slow down. All those extra little rules and extras just dragged it down. It seems that the combination of the sea and diamonds is not a good one.
The island cards are quite an interesting proposition.
The moon track is essentially an extension of the the sea track. Everything I've said about the sea, applies equally here.
So that's it. As I explained earlier, this is the only legacy style game I've played. And to be honest, in regards to Machi Koro, I don't think it adds much to the experience of playing it.
Sure, it adds some interesting ideas to the mix and it was nice seeing new cards. But it also adds a whole lot of unnecessary stuff too. Additionally, the changes that occur throughout the games feel very small, the choice that the winner makes after every game feels inconsequential.
I don't regret playing Machi Koro Legacy at all; it provided us with 10 games and 3 evenings of entertainment. But during those games I never felt that I was playing something superior to the original.
I play, I paint.