Machi Koro has become increasingly popular over the years so it makes sense that an updated version would be released. Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition is the latest version of the hit board game from Pandasaurus Games.
What are the differences between the original and this new version? Which one should you buy? Let’s take a look in this Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition review.
What is Machi Koro?
Machi Koro originally released in Japan back in 2012 before making its way to the United States in 2014. Designed by Masao Suganuma, Machi Koro became an instant hit amongst board gamers.
Machi Koro translated to English means “Dice Town”. So what do you do in this dice town? Well in Machi Koro, you are the mayor of your town and you are trying to grow your town by adding new establishments and landmarks.
There are a few differences between the Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition and the original game. The main upgrades include:
- Bigger dice
- Bigger cards
- Reworked rulebook
- Plastic coins instead of cardboard punchouts
- The box has a gold foil finish
Machi Koro is a tableau building game where players roll dice to earn income and spend that income to buy establishment and landmark cards. So let’s break it down.
- Ages: 10+
- Players: 2-4
- Play Time: 30 Minutes
What’s Inside the Box?
Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition includes a wide assortment of components including:
- 8 Starting Establishments – Each player gets two starting establishment cards; the Bakery and Wheat Field. All establishment cards have a number listed at the top, ranging from one to twelve. If you roll that card’s number then you gain the coins listed on the card. This will give players an opportunity to gain income at the beginning of the game.
- 16 Landmarks – Each player gets four landmark cards. The first player to purchase all four of their cards wins the game.
- 72 Establishments – Establishment cards are available for players to purchase. Each one has a number listed on it and if the player rolls that number then they gain the listed benefit.
- 12 Major Establishments – These cards give greater benefits than normal establishment cards. There are three different major establishment cards. Each player can only have one of each of these three cards.
- 76 Coins – This is the currency of the game. You spend coins in order to purchase establishment and landmark cards.
- 2 Oversized Dice – Players will roll one or two dice on their turn in the hopes that they will gain coins.
- 1 Rulebook – Like any other board game this one includes a manual.
Now that you have an idea of what is all included in the Machi Koro board game, let’s put it all together and see how it plays.
How to Play Machi Koro
Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition is not a complex game. Each player will receive these items:
- Wheat Field & Bakery Establishment Cards. These are your starting cards, allowing you to earn money if you roll a 1 or a 2-3, respectively.
- 4 Landmark Cards: In order to win the game you will need to be the first player to purchase all four of these cards. These include:
- Train Station – Costs four coins and allows the player to roll one or two dice.
- Shopping Mall – Costs ten coins and all establishments with the bread and coffee icons earn an additional one coin.
- Amusement Park – Costs sixteen coins and allows the player to take an additional turn if they roll doubles.
- Radio Tower – Costs twenty-two coins and allows the player to re-roll their dice once per turn.
- 3 Coins. Coins are the currency of the game and are used to build new Establishment Cards and Landmark Cards.
The game is played in three phases:
- Roll Dice: Roll one or two dice, depending on if you have already purchased the Train Station landmark card that allows you to roll two dice.
- Earn Income. All of your establishment cards that have the same value as the rolled dice are activated.
- Construction. This is where you can purchase one establishment card or landmark card. There are four different types of establishment cards including:
- Blue – Blue establishment cards allow you to earn coins whenever anyone rolls the matching number.
- Green – Green establishment cards allow you to earn coins whenever you roll the matching number.
- Purple – Purple indicates that card is a major establishment card and they function the same as green establishment cards.
- Red – Red establishment cards allow you to earn coins whenever your opponent rolls the matching number; taking the coins from their stash.
The game continues until the first player to purchase all 4 of their landmark cards wins the game.
I’ve written a strategy guide if you are interested and want to learn how to win at Machi Koro.
Now that you know how to play Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition I want to share my thoughts on the game overall.
One of the main reasons I love this version of Machi Koro is because the box has a really nice gold foil finish around the text. Combine this with the bright and colorful box art and you get a nice looking game sitting on your shelf.
When you first unbox Machi Koro it is a bit underwhelming. There isn’t that much inside the game so there is a lot of empty space. I believe the reason they did this is because you can put the Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition Expansions inside this box too.
As I mentioned before, this game doesn’t offer much in terms of board game components.
The cards have a nice cartoony tone which I feel fits the randomness and family-friendly nature of the game well. This was the selling point for me. The cards don’t feel cheap and have received little wear through many sessions of playing the game.
Bad news for those who like to sleeve their cards. Everything in this game is plus size, including the cards. So normal card sleeves aren’t going to work.
To emphasize the cartoony nature of the game you get two rather large dice to roll. The coins are upgraded to a nice plastic instead of the old cardboard punchouts.
Machi Koro has you take on the role of mayor of your town. As mayor, you have to decide which establishments to build. I like the idea of building my town and the more I add to it the more money I can earn.
This is a very lightweight game so I understand that the designers probably didn’t want to have too many card mechanics in this game. Every card has a similar effect of earning you coins. But I would have liked a bit more variety between the establishment cards to immerse me more in the game.
Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition is a simple yet very competitive game. Luck plays a big part in this game and the way the dice roll will ultimately determine the victor. If you are smart, there are a few ways to mitigate this, such as having a building fore each number. This will guarantee you some money no matter what you roll.
Machi Koro also has a fun engine building component to it. You can add a bit of strategy to the game by trying to figure out how each establishment can possibly work together. You could invest your coins into multiple copies of the same establishment and hope you roll that one number; earning a big payout. Or you can spread out your chances and take the slow road to victory.
The main problem with the gameplay is the replayability. The establishments are not well balanced and once you figure out which establishments to go for then you can bulldoze over your opponents.
The game does offer variant rules that help to fix this problem. The Variable Supply Variant changes the setup for the game.
Instead of having all the establishments be available to purchase all at once, you shuffle all of the cards together. You then draw and place cards until you have ten unique cards. Any duplicates drawn are stacked on top of their original cards. Any time one of these ten stacks are depleted, replace it by drawing a new card.
This is my favorite way to play the Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition board game. This allows a bit more randomness and you will have to be a bit more strategic in the way you purchase your establishment cards.
The game has a good amount of player interaction thanks to the ability to steal coins and gain income on other people’s turns. This means that there isn’t much downtime in Machi Koro since cards will have you constantly checking the dice rolls to see if you gain income.
- Easy to Pickup. This game is as easy as rolling a die and doing whatever cards you have told you to do.
- Quick. The game takes about 30 minutes, more or less, to play.
- Player Interaction. You will constantly be looking to see what the other player rolled and gaining coins on their turn too.
- Luck of the Roll. This game is all about luck. It can be a bit frustrating at the beginning if you can’t roll the value you need to activate your starting Establishment Cards and earn income, causing the game to drag on.
- A Little Plain. Because this game is so simple, it may be a little plain for those who want a little more depth in their games.
- Balancing Issues. They’re a lot of really good cards that only take one die to activate so a lot of the times you don’t really have to roll two dice which limits the number of card options.
- New Gamers & Monopoly Fans. Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition is a fun lightweight game that reminds a lot of Monopoly, having to buy establishments in the hopes that they will earn you money later on.
- If you are interested in other dice games consider checking out our review for Dice Throne Season 2.
Machi Koro Expansions
I think it’s worth noting that Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition does have an expansion. In previous Machi Koro editions, you would have to purchase the expansions one by one, but for Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition they decided to combine the Harbor & Millionaire’s Row expansions.
If you are planning on purchasing Machi Koro then I would recommend picking up the expansion as well. It really adds a lot to the game, including a fifth player!
Machi Koro Review Breakdown
- Value: 7/10. Currently, Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition is about $25 on Amazon. The nice artwork and decent components make it worth the value.
- Components 6/10. Much like the game, the art is simple, but nice to look a, but the game doesn’t come with much inside.
- Gameplay: 6/10. Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition is like a shorter version of Monopoly to me, which is great because I find Monopoly to drag on too long. The game does have a few shortcomings with the establishment cards not being well balanced and everything being mostly luck-based.
Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition Review Score
Machi Koro 5th Anniversary Edition is a fun lightweight game that really surprised me. With its quick playtime and simplicity, the whole family will be able to enjoy this game. You can get quite a few plays out of it before it gets old and they’re expansions to help give it a little extra flavor.
Machi Koro is a fun light-weight game with just enough depth to draw you in.
- Easy to learn
- Good amount of player interaction
- Luck of the roll is a big factor
- A bit plain
- Balancing issues