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Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion

If you haven’t picked up “Machi Koro” yet, you should.  To quote a line from my review from late last year, “I found ‘Machi Koro’ to be an elegant little game that combines just the right amount of strategy and casual fun for busy gamer families like myself.” I still believe this to be the case having played it a number of times since then.  Well, I finally got around to picking up the “Harbor Expansion”, which was published back in 2013…better late than never, I always say.  Seeing as how that this is an “expansion”, it goes without saying that you’ll need the original “Machi Koro” game to make use of it.  Before I delve into what I thought, I’d like to quickly overview what came in the box and hi-lite a significant rule change that may throw you for a loop (like it did me).

 

Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion

Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion – 2-5 Players*, Ages 10+, Average Play Time = 40 Minutes

 

Editor’s Note: The expansion adds support for a fifth player, whereas the core game only supported 2-4 players.

Components

The game includes 82 cards and 12 $20 coin markers.  These cards include one extra copy of the cards from the core game (for the benefit of the fifth player) and new landmarks/establishments.

Rule Changes / New Features

1. As already mentioned above, the game adds support for a fifth player.

2. Players will be tasked with constructing six landmarks instead of four.  The two new landmarks are the Harbor and the Airport.

3. There’s also a new City Hall landmark, though players will receive this as already constructed at the beginning of the game.

4. During game setup, all of the non-starting and major establishments from the core set and expansion are shuffled into a deck to be used throughout the game.  To seed the supply, players draw cards from the deck until ten unique establishments are present.  Any copies of cards already draw simply go on top of their respective stack.

5. If one stack/pile empties during the game, cards are immediately drawn until the supply contains ten unique establishments.  Again, any cards drawn that are already present go on top of their respective pile.  If the deck runs out, no more cards are drawn to refill the supply.

6. If all players own a particular major establishment (they can only have one), said establishment is removed from the supply/game if present.

Editor’s Note: Check out my review of “Machi Koro” for more information as to how the general gameplay works.

The Review

I have to admit I was a little surprised by the inclusion of a deck rather than a static supply, as seen in the core game and deck-building games like “Dominion”.  While the manual doesn’t include variants, it’s very easy to make your own…in fact you may want to.  While players do get starter cards (wheat fields and bakeries) at the beginning of the game, it’s possible that (due to the luck of the draw) that most of the starting establishment values will have moderate to high purchase costs.  Players may opt to seed the starting supply with some of these two cards (maybe one wheat field and bakery per player), just to give them an opportunity to buy more of these cards from the get-go.  They’d then fill in the other eight slots/piles with unique establishments from the deck.  You could also change the number of piles available based on the number of players, or simply do away with the deck altogether and choose which piles to play with like in “Dominion”.

This expansion is a must for loyal “Machi Koro” fans…it adds a lot more content and a bit more depth to general gameplay.  Likewise, gamers who only take “Machi Koro” out once a year can probably pass on this.  I guess it really comes down to how often you play the core game…no need to spend your hard-earned money if you don’t plan to play it that often.  I personally like the new cards and landmarks as it opens up the door for a bit more strategic play.  Some may try to save up and get the airport landmark early on…while expensive, its ability is pretty powerful.  Of course, you can counter this by going for the tax office establishment (which can help you steal another player’s coins).

The components in the expansion do indeed fit in the core box, which is convenient for saving space or for when you’re traveling.  In summary, it’s a great expansion overall with a fair Amazon price of $13-15 (as of 7/28/15).  I’ll even go as far as to say that it makes the core game a much better one.

Final Verdict: 9/10

 

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