How To Win At Machi Koro: 5 Simple Strategies for Beginners

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We love Machi Koro, in case you haven’t noticed (we did already gush about it, after all.)  It’s accessible, light, layered and fun. The mechanics themselves are simple. You roll a die (or a pair of dice) and hope it pays out for you and not your opponents, based on the investments you’ve made in your city.

You start as a Mayor of a city with nothing but a wheat field and bakery. It’s a race, and you’ve got to build your city, attaining key infrastructure in the form of Landmarks, to preside over the biggest and best city before your wheat farmer/baker-turned-mayor rivals with their rival cities beat you to it. So here are some basic strategies to help you build the world class city of your dreams.

Stock up on the Primary Industry cards early

There is so much nuance in the game as the cards give you a lot of variation. Primary Industry cards (with blue icons) generate income from the bank no matter who rolls the dice. Restaurants (red icons) force the player who rolled the die to pay whoever has the card, and Secondary Industry cards (with green icons) only generate income for the mayor of the city when they themselves roll the die.

This piece of advice is simple: try to focus on getting 6 of a single kind of Primary Industry card early on (you can differentiate between each kind using the icons – cows, blades of wheat, gears). There are a couple reasons for this. First, they pay out the most often, as they can pay out on every roll of the dice, not just yours or your opponents.  They also spool up effectively in the later game, as they often bundle well with the higher rolling number cards, so they’re still useful when people are rolling more than a single die every round.

You can diversify to try to earn income from over a few rolls, but your ultimate goal is to hit the magic number of 6 of a type.

Aim (and roll) high

If you can’t buy any blues, or you’ve hit your magic number of 6 of a type, now’s the time to spool up your late game acquisitions.  Aim to get at least 2 of each kind of the 2 dice green cards that mesh with the blue cards you were able to pick up (Cheese Factory for Ranches, Fruit and Vegetable Market for Wheat Fields, and Furniture Factory for Mines/Forests). You’ll  you need a train station, which only costs four to purchase and shouldn’t be hard for you to pick up. It will allow you to shoot for the higher payouts.

Buy up Major Establishment cards in the mid-game

The Major Establishment cards (with purple icons) give the game a strategic punch and give you the opportunity to adjust your play to your opponents, helping you keep the closest rival at bay by pilfering from their assets or from their bank accounts. One thing we didn’t mention about the income generation order: players must pay out on Major Establishments AFTER they have generated all other income. That means you can pilfer from players’ bank accounts (if you have a TV Station or a Stadium) after everyone has generated income.

Better still is using the Business Center, which is an exceptional way to offload cheap and useless cards (green convenience stores are useful in the early game but are great fodder for exchanging in the later game).

They’re pricey but worth it and a good way to keep money from collecting in your city’s coffers while you build the rest of the city. Which leads us to the next point.

Spend, spend, spend (or: Invest in Infrastructure Like a Good Government)

You’re mayor, but you weren’t elected, so don’t worry about balancing your budget and running surpluses. Instead, invest in your city as much as you can, and keep as little money on hand at any point.

With the order of generating income, you pay out on any Restaurants your opponents may have, and then you generate your own income from the bank from your Primary and Secondary Industry cards. If you don’t have any (or very much) money, you don’t have to pay as much to your opponents. This robs them of the opportunity to earn money from you (a great way to deny income to your opponents) while still allowing you to earn an income that you can then spend.

Keeping money in your coffers is a sure way to line the pockets of your opponents. Prioritize your purchases in the following order: Primary Industry cards, a Train Station, 2-dice Secondary Industry cards whose effects are boosted by your Primary industry, A Radio Tower, Major Establishments & superfluous Landmarks, and the rest of the cards.

That purchase priority actually covers the last strategy point perfectly.

Buy your Landmarks in a specific order

Buy a Train Station early and deliberately, its cost is low at 4 coins. It’s better to buy a Major Establishment instead of a Shopping Mall or Stadium as it tends to be more useful in generating income to allow you to purchase a Radio Tower. Speaking of which, if you can buy up your Radio Tower, do it as soon as you can as it’s the most expensive Landmark and allows you to reroll your dice. If you do have a Radio Tower, that’s the point you want to focus on buying your other landmarks before buying Major Establishments.

What do you think of our strategies? Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments!

H/T to Travis Archer on BGG for Strategy Breakdown

Featured & Photo Credits: Teri Litorco

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