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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Saturday, 21 December 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- MegaCity: Oceania

Game: MegaCity: Oceania

Publisher: Hub Games

Designer:  Jordan Draper, Michael Fox (II)

Year: 2019



MegaCity: Oceania is a reimplementation of Tokyo: Jutaku from designer Jordan Draper. Hub Games have created a beautiful edition, which is colourful and extremely impressive on the table. We first got to try MegaCity: Oceania at the UK Games Expo and were really impressed by the combination of a dexterity and lightweight strategy game, so it’s been great to get it back to the table.

MegaCity: Oceania is a city building game set on the Gold Coast of Australia in the year 2100. Rising sea levels have left you with no choice but to build you towering skyscrapers on floating islands out in the ocean.




Gameplay

The objective of the game is to gain the most points by building new skyscrapers on their specified island types with the requested materials. Each turn you will get to perform two actions or to deliver a completed platform, skyscraper and all, to the growing city. When you deliver a tower you must slide it along the table until it has been placed into your desired part of the board. Should the tower collapse during this move then you have wasted your turn and you'll have to try to deliver another day. A delivered tower can score bonus points for being the new tallest building or for being created entirely out of one material.

Should you choose to do actions you have numerous choices. You can take a new contract, these contracts dictate how towers must be built, the type of platform they should be on and any building restrictions such as having an arch or not using glass. If you don't like the available contracts you can spend an action to reorganise a pile, letting you pick and choose the ones that suit you. You may also take platforms. You need a platform to build on, but they must be the right colour zone. If there's only platforms of the wrong colour showing, then you can rezone them by spending an action to flip a platform to the other side. Still not getting the platforms you need? Well then spend an action to burn the supply and draw 3 fresh ones! Finally, and most importantly, you can take three pieces from the bag as an action. You take the pieces blind so you don't know what you are going to get. Almost all the pieces are flat, awkward shapes, and it's your job to turn them into towers.


Constructing towers is done between turns, letting downtime be minimised. Your typical building must have a base that covers all of the vents printed on the platform and then will usually have a height minimum and other factors required by its building contract, such as making sure there's whole in your skyscraper, or not using any glass. Once the last basic contracts have been reserved by players some extra difficult prestige contracts will become available, but only if you are quick. As soon as the last standard contract is fulfilled by delivering it's tower the end of the game is triggered. Players have one last attempt to try and complete a prestige contract before the game ends. At the end of the game there are bonus points for the player who earned the most points in each zone type, for every player who built at least one of each zone type and the player who has the tallest building at the end of the game. There are also bonus points for having your buildings built next to parks. Everyone likes parks!


Amy’s Final Thoughts

MegaCity: Oceania is a game which skirts that line between strategy game and dexterity game. As a result it ends up feeling like a lighter version of each genre, but that by no means makes it a bad game. The rules are simple enough to teach to most people, while the dexterity element is usually easy enough to not be a concern. But where it does get difficult is when you are trying to sneak out that new tallest tower, or score the more complex contract cards. You end up with a game that's easy to play, but challenging to win.


There's something fascinating about the theme of MegaCity: Oceania. Corporate greed and pollution has led to rising sea levels, with no free land left to build on. Naturally the world's reaction has been to continue the greed and pollution on floating islands. Perhaps I'm looking at it in a slightly pessimistic way, dystopian future or cyberpunk utopia? Ultimately it doesn't matter too much because whatever the reason you end up with a beautiful game which forces you to make these fascinating structures. The shapes of the basic building blocks are engineered to create hyper-modern looking architecture when forced into 3D shapes. Every city ends up being it's own work of Art! So long as you don't knock half the towers down mid-way through the game...

MegaCity Oceania has found its places firmly in the gateway category of gaming. If you want a modern board game that isn't too complex to explain, but new enough to push a non-gamers boundaries then this is the game for you. The building feels so natural and the bonus for tallest building rewards just what people will naturally try to do with the game. Even if you don't win the game you can take a moment to appreciate what you have created together. Though there might be only one winner, everyone has taken part in this collaborative art project and surely that's reason enough to have fun? It's enough to make even the most die hard cynic see what modern gaming is capable of!


Fi’s Final Thoughts

MegaCity: Oceania is a game with very simple rules and not a whole lot of strategy or decision making. It's on the lighter end of the spectrum but it does a whole lot to stand out from the crowd and to attract your attention.The gameplay is easy to teach, with just 3 actions per player per turn. Plus the objectives are easy to understand - build tall buildings, build buildings that match the cards you have and do a bit of set collection to get end game points. If this were a card game, it would be boring, but because it's a dexterity game, it really comes alive.
 
The game is extremely tight - since buildings are all in the same range of points, take similar numbers of pieces and most people will build the same number of buildings over the course of the game. It's only the little things you do that might help you get ahead, like holding out for all of the same building material, or pushing for the tallest building. One of the downsides is that this closeness means that having a building fall over and missing a turn can be catastrophic. Bad luck can also be a factor, for example not drawing same material pieces from the bag, or having to refresh the display of foundations to get a matching base for a building. Every move matters and wasting one through no fault of your own can be annoying.


MegaCity: Oceania is not my new favourite game that I'm going to pull out to exercise my brain. But it is high on my go-to list of games to get new people excited about gaming. It's tactile, looks amazing and has just enough gameplay that makes it more than just a stacking game - introducing new players to some additional ideas that come up again and again in other modern board games. Playing a game of MegaCity: Oceania is a competitive game, but it's also a cooperative experience of building a piece of art, followed by the joy of watching it tumble to the ground at the end of the game.


You Might Like...
  • The game looks amazing! After training as an architect, Fi could actually be proud of some of the buildings.
  • Anyone can enjoy the stacking and there’s just a few decisions in there too that make it a great gateway game.
  • Knocking it all down is almost as good as playing the game.
You Might Not Like...
  • Having a building fall and missing a turn is hugely punishing.
  • There are not big opportunities to get ahead in the game, because it’s a very linear path to victory.

The Verdict
8/10 The best part about MegaCity: Oceania is most certainly the look. It’s definitely a dexterity game which attracts a crowd, but hopefully not a crowd who breathe heavily or have heavy footsteps! The game is a very pleasant introduction to strategy games, as you collect different objectives to try and squeeze a few points ahead of your opponents. We can’t wait to introduce this to friends who are fans of Tokyo Highway, Beasts of Balance and other slightly more intriguing dexterity games.


MegaCity: Oceania was a review copy kindly provided to us by Hub Games and CoiledSpring Games.

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