How to Play Machi Koro Machi Koro Review

Machi Koro


This colorful box appeared under our Christmas tree, and in no time at all we learned how to play Machi Koro! Since then we have played it quite a few times, with new gamers, young players, experienced  Board Gamers and newbies. Each of them found it easy to learn, and fun to get into. I’ve gotten some decent feedback, so know I want to share my Machi Koro Review with you.

Machi Koro Board Game

Machi Koro isn’t your standard “roll the dice, move your mice” style of board game. It’s a deck building game. This means, play is based on buying and collecting cards in order to complete your objectives. Machi Koro also employs coins,  to buy cards… and dice, to activate the cards. 

Roll the dice (one or two) to see which of your Establishment cards will bring you income, then use the income to buy more Establishment cards, or pay off your Starting Landmark cards.

The object of Machi Koro is to pay off all 4 of your Starting Landmark cards first. But… that’s jumping ahead… let’s take another detailed look.

How to play Machi Koro

Begin the game by giving each player 4 Starting Landmark cards (turned upside down), and 2 Starting Establishment cards (always a Wheat Field and a Bakery to start).

how to play machi koro

Each Player starts with 4 Starting Landmark cards (grey/green side up, until it’s activated, then it turns yellow).. and 2 Establishment Cards… A Wheat field and a Bakery

Set up the bank by putting one person in charge of the Coins. Coins come in 1, 5, and 10 denomination. Do yourself a favor and put the ones into a small bowl, and the 5s and 10s in another… Money changes constantly, and it’s easier for the banker if it can be grabbed without fuss.

Place the rest of the cards in separate piles in the center of the players. This is your Marketplace. (Note. Separate the cards carefully… the first time we played, we didn’t see the Ranch Cards (2) because they look similar to the Wheat Field (1)…. You will understand when you try to collect money with the Cheese Factory (7), it requires that you have ranches)

how to play machi koro

The Mine Card is activated by a roll of 9.
It’s a great card, because it pays out 5 coins to anyone who has the card, regardless of who rolls the 9.
It costs 6 coins.

Notice that each card has a number on the top of it from 1 to 12. Some even have 2 numbers (this means they are activated by either role). Each card also has a name (like Bakery), a symbol (like a sheaf of wheat or a cup), a gold coin with a number to indicate its cost, and a line or two about its effect.

Each card has a special effect that will be useful to its owner. Either it entitles you to coins from the bank or coins from other players. Some will pay out depending on how many cards you have that are marked with a certain symbol. (For example, the Cheese Factory (7) gives 3 coins for each Ranch (2) you own.

On your turn, roll the dice (one to begin with, one or two after you have completed the Train Station Starting Landmark). The number you roll activates that number card, if it is in your possession. Example. If you roll a 1 , it activates the wheat field, and all players gain 1 coin from the bank. (Yeah!! Everyone cheers). If you roll a number you don’t have, you get nothing. Be careful, some cards are good on “anyone’s” turn, so even if you don’t have a corresponding card, your opponent might, and you may have to pay out.

How to play Machi Koro

Rolling a 6 is fairly common, so these cards cost more… and do some interesting damage to your fellow players.

Once the money has been sorted (collected and/or paid) from the cards, you move into the buy phase. You may either buy a new Establishment Card (the more you have, the better your chances are of earning more coins!) or if you save enough, you can pay off your Starting Landmarks.

Then the person to the right gets a turn… and so on around the table until someone has paid off all Landmarks.

Machi Koro Review

All in all, I really enjoy playing Machi Koro. It’s not as complex as Dominion, but that makes it a great gateway game into the deck building games world. The roll of the dice gives it a sense of randomness. You might think you have a great strategy, because you buy certain cards, but it only works if the dice go your way.

Because it’s not as complex, it’s not one I’d pull out every day for myself… BUT… my 13 year old loves it, and she has taught it to her “non-gaming” friends (who also love it).

Machi Koro Review

Big Box, mostly empty, but therefore you have room for the expansion sets.

The Game Components are fairly straight forward. You get a stack of cards, a lot of coins and 2 dice. The box seems kind of big for what comes in it… but I guess it has extra room to tuck in those expansion sets you might want to buy. (When we take Machi Koro out of the house, we just put the cards, coins and dice in a smaller container to save space in my purse).

One thing I did notice about the Machi Koro is that it is different every time we play. Different players use different strategies to get their money together. Some people like to hoard their coins, then pay off Landmarks early… others spend their coins on buying up double and triple of the same establishments, in order to get bigger payoff with the right die roll. The game also changes depending on how many people are playing. It’s hard to get a pile of money together when there are more people fighting for the establishments, and more people collecting money from you.

Who Can Play Machi Koro?

The box says that Machi Koro is for ages 10 and up. I actually think that a younger person could play, especially if it was family game night, and they have some help. It’s also quick enough that you can run through the game a few times in one game night.

Experienced Gamers will enjoy Machi Koro as a lead-in to other games… once in any given evening is enough.

Machi Koro is a 4 player game… you can, however, buy expansions that allow 5-6 people to play. The expansions also add new cards to the mix which could make it interesting for experienced players.

Where to Buy Machi Koro

Machi Koro is available on Amazon in both Standard, Deluxe and even a Deluxe Tin edition.
The Deluxe versions contain the Standard Cards, and both expansion sets.  Since the Expansion sets cost $14.00 each, it makes sense to buy a Deluxe version if you feel you will be playing this a lot.

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