Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 5 November 2019

Money makes the die go round:- Machi Koro Legacy

Game: Machi Koro Legacy

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Designer: Rob Daviau, JR Honeycutt, Masao Suganuma

Year: 2019

Machi Koro Legacy takes the core dice-rolling, town building action from Machi Koro, and adds in everything you would expect from a legacy game. We're talking sealed boxes of goodies, an ongoing storyline, cards thrown away and many stickers applied. Machi Koro Legacy will take you on a series of 10 games, with choices along the way which will make your game distinct from everyone else's.

The gameplay starts simply as a typical Machi Koro game. For those not familiar Machi Koro is a town building game. Each turn you will roll a die (or two dice later on), with the results of that die dictating which buildings in your tableau will activate. Buildings come in a couple of different types, blue buildings tend not to make much money but will do so on any player's turn. Green buildings tend to be more efficient, but only activate on your turn. Red buildings activate on opponents turns and let you steal money from the active player. Money makes the world go round, and it also lets you build buildings. Each turn you can buy one building from the central pool and add it to your tableau, eventually making a better and better town. Each game there are a number of special buildings that can be built instead of a normal buildings, and once one player has build all of these they win the game.

Of course that's not the end of things in a legacy game. After each game you'll be recording the victory, then going through the next chunk of the legacy deck. This may give you permission to open one of the 6 sealed boxes in the game, or it may simply add some new cards to the game. Typically each game will introduce a slight twist to existing mechanics. Here is where things start to go downhill. Machi Koro by itself is a perfectly acceptable game, so the inclusion of a legacy aspect really could have driven it high in my esteem. But Machi Koro Legacy is the most phoned-in, half-assed legacy game I have ever had the displeasure of playing through.

I don't want to spoil the story, but it's bad. It feels so disjointed and random. There's little to no reason for the inclusion of characters and the whole thing reads like a bad children's book. This is meant to be the treat that pushes you on to play the game more, but instead it's an embarrassment that you feel forced to read every game. But writing is certainly an art form and art is subjective, so let's move onto the gameplay. It's Machi Koro, which is fine, but it doesn't feel like it truly evolves beyond that. If you look at many legacy games they start small, but end up feeling so much grander, often the final game doesn't feel much like the first game at all because of all the incremental upgrades. With Machi Koro Legacy it starts as a game of Machi Koro and ends as a game of Machi Koro. It's not that there aren't any changes, but the changes aren't sweeping and don't do much to evolve the game, they typically just add more luck and randomness to each game.

So that leads us to the last thing that really makes a legacy game stand out from a typical game and that's player agency. Well, there is some. In each game the winner will get to make a choice which will be with you all the way through to the final game. Unfortunately, soon into the campaign another element is introduced which essentially trivialises all those choices and randomises them anyway. Aside from that one choice a game that's it. You can't influence the storyline in any way, you can't influence what people will be doing in the next game. You can't really have an effect on the experience that the designers crafted for you.

I feel it's important to say that Machi Koro is not a bad game, and if you want an excuse to play 10 games of Machi Koro then you won't be horrendously let down by Machi Koro Legacy. But while Machi Koro Legacy may be a mechanically fine game it is a terrible legacy game. Every aspect of what makes something legacy is done with such minimum effort, like someone was running through a checklist with no experience of playing a legacy game themselves. It's all there, but there's no heart or soul being used to craft a unique and fascinating experience. There isn't even a rule about who the ultimate winner is for crying out loud! Overall I really can't recommend Machi Koro Legacy to anyone but the biggest of Machi Koro fans.


Machi Koro Legacy was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £47.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk

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