Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City

Theme: You are the mayor of the sleepy town of Machi Koro and you dream of filling this town with the bright lights of a big city.

How to Win: Be the first to build all seven of your Landmarks.

Components: Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City comes with cardboard coins, dice, and cards. Card quality is good and have lasted through multiple playthroughs without sleeves.

How to Play: On your turn, you will roll one, two or three dice. If the number matches any of the red cards your opponent has in front of them, resolve those effects first. Resolve the effects of any blue and green cards second and, lastly, purple cards.  

It is important that you resolve the card effects in order to ensure everyone receives what they are supposed to. Once all card effects are completed, you have the option to buy one of 12 buildings available to you. There are five buildings with the numbers one through six. Five additional buildings numbered seven through fourteen and two special buildings with varying numbers to choose from. You may also choose to build one of the seven Landmarks, which give you ongoing special abilities.

Machi Koro setup – Let the city building begin!

Thoughts: I want to place a caveat on this review, as Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City is the only iteration of the series that I have played. My wife and I did not know until later that we purchased a ‘deluxe’ edition of Machi Koro and some of the cards and rules were not part of the “original” release.

This is key because after learning the ‘original’ ruleset, I feel Bright Lights, Big City is better and more streamlined. I will concede there is some strategy involved in Machi Koro, but a large part of the game is luck. You aren’t earning any money if the dice don’t land in your favor. My wife and I have both had games were one of us sat there rolling dice and not doing much else.

Most of the time the game is a little bit more balanced and it comes down to you or your opponent winning just before the other. This is where the strategy behind Machi Koro comes into play. With twelve buildings to choose from and seven Landmarks, deciding what building to buy can be tough. Once players unlock the ability to roll two dice instead of just one, some of the early cards are less helpful – you have a really small chance of rolling a one, two or three on two dice. The nice thing is that later buildings (those numbered eight through eleven) allow you more money based on how many of the earlier cards you purchased, making them useful even later in the game.

Machi Koro can support up to five players and we have only played up to three. With all the ‘extra’ stuff included in Bright Lights, Big City it can get a little hectic. While it would be interesting to play with five, I don’t foresee that happening in the near future. The two-player game is sufficient because it is quick enough and deep enough for us at this time. Like with everything, I have heard arguments for the other side – that because of its potential to be lopsided, playing with multiple people allows for more money movement and balanced gameplay.

Machi Koro – Near the end of the game

Overall, Machi Koro is a great game that is easy to learn and even easier to play. Setup and tear down is quick and easy, which is a big plus. The added benefit of knowing the ruleset has been improved and simplified along with the included expansions make Bright Lights, Big City a must buy.

Note: once released and played through, I will be posting a review for Machi Koro Legacy so stay tuned. I can only imagine what fun and interesting things Pandasaurus Games and Rob Daviau have cooked up.

[This post contains affiliate links, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I wouldn’t recommend a game I didn’t like or think you wouldn’t enjoy. Any games linked have been recommended to friends and family long before this blog.]

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