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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Thursday, 7 November 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Machi Koro Legacy

Game: Machi Koro Legacy

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Designer: Rob Daviau, JR Honeycutt, Masao Suganuma

Year: 2019

Machi Koro was a one time play for us when it first came out. I found it for a bargain of £1, but the luck factor in the game meant that we quickly moved on to games like Valeria: Card Kingdoms and Space Base.

However, I am one of those gullible people who will try a game if you put 'legacy' in the name. Aeons End Legacy proved to me that you don't need to like the original game to enjoy the legacy version - it's probably one of the best gaming experiences I've had during 2019. Not only that, but Rob Daviau was the designer of Pandemic Legacy, my favourite gaming experience of all time. As a result, I set aside my concerns and we launched into a 10-game campaign of Machi Koro Legacy. Here's my *SPOILER FREE* thoughts.

Machi Koro Legacy is a competitive game for 2-4 players that plays over 10 games, with the option to continue playing a version of the game once you're done with the legacy aspects. Following the typical recipe for legacy games, you'll be writing on components, sticking on stickers, opening secret boxes, discovering new rules and destroying cards if you choose to do so. The first game in the box is simple a game of Machi Koro. Each player starts with a couple of Town Square cards that form their starting tableau of cards. On your turn you roll one (or later a choice of one or two) dice. The result of the dice triggers cards in your tableau and some cards will be triggered on others players' turns too. You will gain the benefit of the card triggered, which is often money. Money is spent on buying more cards for your tableau, or building one of your landmark cards. The aim of the game is to be the first to build your 3 personal landmarks and to contribute to the community landmark.

Machi Koro Legacy is a pretty large box at a pretty reasonable price point. The legacy deck is split into 3 because of it's size, but most of the box is occupied by the six secret boxes. Those secret boxes are definitely overwhelmingly filled. It's like Santa has played a huge trick on you on Christmas day, wrapping your DVD in a box big enough for a new bicycle. Some of the new components cute and have interesting little mechanisms, plus they're consistent with the upgraded component quality of the plastic coins and other aspects of the game, but I was expecting a bit more content.

Given that the biggest downside in Machi Koro for me was luck, I was excited to see whether some of the legacy aspects of the game allow for some control and luck mitigation. Perhaps my biggest disappointment is the feeling that they simply added more luck to the game, not less luck. I started this game with two dice and now I have four. There is a re-rolling aspect added in the game, but I don't just need re-rolls - I need control, like a really expensive card that allows me to pick the face of one dice or +/- 2 pips, or make a sacrifice to get what I really need. We tried so hard to experiment with strategies to help with luck, none overcame that simple problem. It was kind of fun to try a one-dice strategy or a one of everything strategy, or a middle-ground, law of averages strategy, but somehow the dice will find ways to hate you.

For me, legacy games have either got to be carried by a story or my interesting changes in mechanisms and consequences to your actions. Since I'm not a story person, it's really unlikely that a legacy game will ever stand alone on just it's story, but Machi Koro Legacy didn't really try. Game-to-game it doesn't feel like what you did last game mattered either. When new market cards appear, you  can choose whether to use the front or back, but that's about it. It can seem like this is an arbitrary decision, but in reality, over time your pool of cards in the market does morph quite a lot. Your choices can lead to a very interactive game with lots of red card that steal from other players, or the polar opposite with a game focused on green cards that only activate on your own turn. I don't think it was ideal that our pool of cards ended up very green.

What I'm kind of proud to say is that I've still never quit a legacy game. Playing Machi Koro Legacy felt like a bit of a grind, but, since every game only takes 30 minutes, it wasn't a huge commitment to see it through to the end. Something that might have kept me more engaged would be if winning a game mattered. If you win, you get to make some choices and if you lose you start with 1 more money than the winner in the next game, but that's it - there's no campaign aspect here. Thankfully, we didn't know until the end game that there's not even an ultimate winner - Amy won 6 games and I won 4, so I guess Amy won?

It has to be said that Machi Koro Legacy is a family weight legacy game, and I suppose there's not really another one like it, but it simply could've been so much more and still worked for families. Whilst I believe that some of the narrative comes from Japanese folklore, it seems very tenuously strung together. It could've had some sort of gameplay campaign, where there were game-to-game consequences. The legacy aspects could've improved the biggest flaw in Machi Koro -the lack of luck mitigation, but they didn't. So I'm pretty disappointed, and for the Yellow Meeple, Machi Koro Legacy is a 4/10.

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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