Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion - Board Game Box Shot

Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion

, | Published: 2015
Expansion for Machi Koro
124 10 5

Its election time in Machi Koro and your mayorship is in peril. The citizens are no longer wowed by Cheese Factories and Coffee Shops. Winning reelection means going big.

Remember that bay that the cheese factories have been dumping their unsold Gouda into all these years? Your salvation lies in rehabbing that polluted body of water northeast of town. So get ready to roll up your sleeves and earn those votes.

A harbor with fancy boats and sushi bars and a shiny new airport will surely bring more gold to town and more gratitude! Sure, the city might not have the money in its coffers to pay for all this, but that never stopped you before.

The Machi Koro Harbor Expansion injects further excitement into the game that has everyone talking! Want even more fun in your box?! Perhaps ten new establishments, one new starting establishment and two new landmarks will help?

Machi Koro Harbor Expansion requires the base game to play and is designed to add more variety, strategy and a 5th player to the smash hit Machi Koro.

Say hello to more variety, more nail biting and MORE players!

The Harbor Expansion is an absolute must for bonafide Machi- whizzes and newbies alike!

User Reviews (5)

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7
Canada
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“We're Gonna Need a Bigger Table”

Upon my first couple of plays of Machi Koro, I felt that the game wouldn’t have legs for my game group. Despite the fun artwork, and the new take on Catan, the cards offered very few strategies to win.

So when I heard about an expansion I wasn’t super excited. Would more cards “fix” the game?

Components

Hey it’s another huge box! Besides that there are a few minor quirks. First…the card backs seem “off” in colour, and in some cases size. And again, this is a game that should be sleeved as the cards are thin.

Even with the quirks, the game is playable, and not really a deterrent to having fun.

Set-Up

Here is where the expansion CHANGES the game. Instead of ALL establishments being available, you make a tableau of 10 cards.

This takes the game from a Dominion style deck builder, to more in line with Ascension. This is a HUGE advantage.

Each player also has a new landmark.

One thing to keep in mind is that the new setup has a bigger footprint. So JAWS joke aside, you will legitimately need a bigger table.

Game Play – What’s Changed

The Harbour itself gives a unique twist of being able to increase dice rolls. This allows players to roll numbers higher than 12. Which is great, but has a negative. With this, buying #9 establishments typically becomes a waste of income.

The big change is the establishments come out in a much more random order. This means that there are MANY ways to win, and players are rewarded for trying out the different card combos and new cards.

The Tuna Boat is a personal favourite.

Theme

As I wrote in my review of the main game, theme is not Machi Koro’s strong point. that doesn’t take anything away from the game. You’ll still have fun playing, but if theme is vital to your group, you may want to look elsewhere.

Replay Value

Card games are at their best when they reward skill, but still have an unpredictable nature. This is the same for dice games. So for vanilla Machi Koro to be a card and dice game and lack any sense of unpredictability is a fairly big failure.

Because of that, I can’t stress enough how the Ascension/Legendary style marketplace and new cards open the game up.

There’s more back and forth to the game.

Is there times when people can luck in to great establishments showing up only for them? Sure. That’s the luck of the draw. But there are times when a great engine is lucked in to, and somebody else wins because of the luck of the dice. This really means that while The Harbour Expansion has the same feel as plain Machi Koro, the gameplay is a lot more engaging.

Over All Impression.

This is hard to sum up. The Harbour Expansion is the perfect expansion for Machi Koro. If you liked normal Machi Koro at all, this is a must play. If you own the game? This is a must purchase.

And if you hated Machi Koro? Well…I’d suggest giving the expansion a try, but wouldn’t begrudge those who take a flyer on this one. If you get frustrated with the dice in Catan, the game will still not work great for you. If Deckbuilders feel too swingy, the game will not work for you.

But as somebody who was DONE with vanilla Machi Koro, I will say the expansion made me go from not wanting to play the game ever again, to gladly playing it as a change of pace from more strategic games.

 
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“Adds much needed variety to a very fun game”

A fun, but flawed base game
Machi Koro is a great game that had a few issues.

The first issue was that the recommended rules for the base game had all of the cards available to purchase. This allowed players to go after the most statistically valuable cards (Cheese Factory and Furniture Factory specifically) and most games ended up feeling very similar.

The other issue was that with only 15 types of cards and 4 landmarks, there was not a lot of variety in game play.

Enter, The Harbor
The Harbor Expansion does a lot to fix the above issues of the base set.

10 new establishments and 3 new landmark cards (including one that you start the game with) add variety and new strategies to the game. It may add a little bit more time because of the added landmark cards in order to win, but the new establishment and landmark cards are powerful and generally allow the game to move at a similar speed.

The recommended rules for the Harbor Expansion is that you mix up all of the establishments (or, whatever ones you want to play with) into one draw deck. You then display 10 unique establishments,, stacking identical cards, and those cards are available for purchase. Now, this does greatly change the way the game plays, and this may bother some people, but for people who grew tired of the original game play this is a huge improvement.

Additionally, the game comes with additional cards for a 5th player. I’ve never played with a 5th, but if that was a limiting factor for your group, well, it has been fixed.

Pros:
-New establishments add variety and new strategies.
-New landmark cards add more strategy.
-New rules create more variety and force different strategies each time.
-Helps balance the game away from the furniture/cheese factory strategy, while still keeping the cheese/furniture factory strategies as a possible way to win.

Cons:
-May add a little more time with more landmarks.
-Players who enjoyed the original set up of the game where all cards are available may not enjoy this new set up.
-Also new set up lends itself to a little more analysis paralysis but not much.
-Should have been part of the base game.

My Impressions
I really enjoyed the base game, but it became clear after 2 plays or so that it was a very limited game. There were limited strategies and some of those strategies were just a lot better than others.

In my opinion this expansion creates new synergies between cards that allow for a much more balanced play that offers more paths to victory. The new rules with the 10 unique cards force players to think on their feet and cobble together a strategy based on what is available, or hope that certain cards come out to complete your strategy. Something that I really like.

I only have 2 complaints. The first is that I think the “Sushi Bar” card should be cheaper, or activate on a different number. With my group it has only been purchased once in 12 games, and barely made it’s money back before becoming useless. It’s probably used to counter people who try to only use 1 dice for the whole game, or as a way to boost the food warehouse, but if no one is doing that, then it is not as effective. It’s not a bad card, there are just a lot of other cards that are better.

The other complaint is that the Harbor Expansion should have just been a part of the base game. It is so enjoyable and the game just feels so much more complete with it, it’s hard to understand why they were not released together.

In short, I really enjoy this expansion. If you purchased the base game, and found it fun, and charming but limited, then purchase this expansion!

 
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United Kingdom
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“How to make Machi Koro better”

Machi Koro is a beautifully simple game with a problem. The Japanese ‘dice and card building’ game published by IDW Games has proved to be a hit and a very good gateway to Japon games. The problem is that the game has a limited number of paths to victory. Either a player opts to buy Cheese Factories and powers them with Ranches or he opts to buy Furniture Factories and powers them with Mines and Forests. During the game, because all of Machi Koro’s cards are laid out to buy, the game has a static feel with there being nothing to stop another player from selecting these paths to victory. This limits the game’s replayability, which is a shame, because Machi Koro’s design is still good. It just needs something to take that good design and turn it into a good game that people will come back to.

Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion is the first expansion for the game. It adds coins worth twenty coins each. More importantly, it does several things with its sixty-eight cards, but does it address the problem at the heart of the game?

The very first thing that Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion does is provide the means to add a fifth player to the base game. On one level, this simply means another set of the four Landmark cards—a Station, a Shopping Mall, an Amusement Park, and a Radio Tower—that need to be built to win the game and the two starting cards for generating income—a Wheat Field and a Bakery. That though is for the base game, because after that is where Machi Koro: Harbor expansion gets interesting.

Second, it adds three new Landmark cards. The first of these is City Hall, which enters play face up and can be used from the start of the game. It generates money if a player does not have any money before he purchases an Establishment. The second, the Harbor, is what the expansion is named for and activates a number of fishing related Establishments once purchased. Where the Harbor is cheap to buy, the third Landmark, the Airport is not. It gives a player coins when he does not buy anything, though given its cost, the Airport’s effect will rarely enter play as most players will purchase it to win the game. There are of course, enough of the new Landmark cards for five players.

Third, it adds a swathe of new Establishment cards. The Red-coloured food outlets—Hamburger Stands, Pizza Joints, and Sushi Bars—give more means to force a player to pay their owners when their numbers are rolled. Both of the new Green-coloured cards—Food Warehouse and Flower Shop—are powered by other cards rather themselves. Apart from the Flower Shop, the other Blue-coloured cards—Mackerel Boat and Tuna Boat—require the Harbor to have been bought if they are to work. Lastly, the new Purple-coloured Special cards—Publisher and Tax Office—give news means to take money from the other players. Some of these cards are powerful, for example, the Tax Office takes half of the coins of any player who has ten coins or more, whilst the Tuna Boat grants a player two dice’ worth of coins. The new cards also strengthen the numbers available, for example, the Flower Shop can rolled on a six; they oppose other cards, for example, the Wheat Field is countered by the Sushi Bar, one generates money, the other taxes the player who rolled, both require a roll of one; and with the Tuna Boat they extend the number range from one to twelve to one to fourteen. This only comes into play if a player has a bought a Harbor which grants a bonus to a player’s roll if he rolls a ten or more.

Fourth and last, Machi Koro: Harbor makes a radical to the Market Place—the place from where the players purchase Establishments. In the base game every type of Establishment card is available to buy, but this expansion limits the Market Place to just ten unique Establishments at a time. These are set up at game start, with duplicate Establishments forming their own card piles. As soon as the last of an unique Establishment is purchased, a new one is drawn. If a duplicate is drawn, it is added to its own pile and Establishments are are drawn until there are ten unique ones in the Market Place. What this does is prevent easy access to particular paths to victory—for example, purchasing Cheese Factories and powering them with Ranches, or with this expansion, Flower Shops powered by Flower Orchards, Food Warehouses powered by by food outlets like Cafes, Family Restaurants, Hamburger Stands, Pizza Joints, and Sushi Bars. It does not prevent total access, but forces the players to generalise and adapt to the cards available rather than cherry picking. It also makes game play random.

There is a great deal to like about Machi Koro: Harbor. It mixes game play up, adding a much needed random element and countering the original game’s paths to victory. It thus makes the game less predictable and longer to play, but gives a more satisfying playing experience. It makes Machi Koro a much, much better game. You may play Machi Koro a few times, but with Machi Koro: Harbor, you will play again and again.

 
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99 of 108 gamers found this helpful
“This is Machi Koro?”

My review is based on the assumption that you’re familiar with the base Machi Koro game, so I will not be expounding on any particulars of the base game other than for comparison or changes that the expansion brings.

When you look a Machi Koro after the setup of the many colorful and charming buildings which you can add to your little village, you think: “Wow, there’s so much potential here; I can build whatever I like given I can afford it.”

When I purchased Harbor Expansion, I thought, “More Machi Koro, now I will have a bountiful plethora of buildings to chose from and make my little town so full and unique.” So, I got my gaming group together to play Machi Koro, excited about playing the expansion for the first time.

I proceeded to lay out all the lovelies and everyone giggled and squeaked as they saw the new buildings and major establishments. And there’s Jim in the “corner” looking through the expansion’s rules and politely pointed out that I had a setup error. He offered to correct it and I let him proceed…the horror. He removed my well-placed and orderly stacks of buildings and began shuffling…and uncontrolled gasps were uttered by all. Then Jim placed just 10 unique piles of buildings.

What happened to the Machi Koro I knew? Where were the options that afforded the immediate change in strategy when one of the buildings ran out? NANDE-YO!

Machi Kuro: Harbor Expansion is one of the more surprising expansions I’ve seen to a board game. While some expansions may highlight and go into depth of a particular aspect of the base game, or just literally expand the original, ie Dutch Blitz: Expansion Pack, Harbor Expansion adds a brand new mechanism to the game that I would claim make Machi Koro and Machi Koro: Harbor Expansion two different games.

A brief impression of the original game is that it’s a very light Euro, with a dice roll mechanism to activate purchased cards/buildings which you can gain income from when activated. Yes, dice rolling is involved, ie luck, but at it’s core, Machi Koro is Euro in style since you’re wagering on cards/buildings which will favor certain dice rolls and picking cards that will help achieve your strategic goal. However, once Harbor Expansion is added, the base game once Euro, now becomes Ameri-trash.

Harbor Expansion definitely adds a greater number and variety of cards to the game. Though, I would argue that some cards are really the same, just a different picture on the front. Mechanically it changes how players can purchase cards/buildings. As stated above, instead of all cards being available for purchase, only 10 unique cards at a time are revealed and accessible by the players, and often times it’s just one card of the multiples in the deck. This changes not only how the game is played, but I would even say the mentality of the players.

With the base game, players are purchasing and strategizing around the single dice and two dice game (short versus long game) and yes, there are stakes involved, but because cards are readily available to you, you can quickly change course and deter the “snowball” effect of a veteran player. Yes, Machi Koro can snowball, but with the games I’ve played, you may have only one player lagging, but not too far that all hope is lost. The remaining players are often neck-and-neck, waiting for that big roll to complete their final Landmark.

With Harbor Expansion, the game is now dependent on both dice rolls and the luck of the draw. Frankly, the game can “snowball” extremely quickly. If only high-priced cards are available for purchase, you’ll typically get a single player buying them up, while the rest sit and wait for single coins to come in with the hope of purchasing something of value on his/her next turn. Also, the mentality of the player changes completely, instead of carefully planning and building the city you desire, you’re now frantically purchasing any card that you can afford in hopes that it will have some payout in the end.

Please don’t get me wrong Harbor Expansion is still a really fun game with all the charm of the original Machi Koro; however, it is a very different game. Which can be really polarizing, and, frankly, shocking to the players of the base game. I will say, it’s very exciting and cool to see that a single mechanism change can take “two” games of a common theme, common mechanics (except the one), common artwork, common etc., and make them so different. Not just how the game works, but how players interact with it and strategize to win.

Harbor Expansion is still for the beginner gamer, the family gamer, the casual gamer, the avid gamers, and in some cases the social gamer like it’s base game. The dichotomy between the expansion and the base game will come with Euro versus Ameri-trash preferences. Both are light in game play and depth, and I feel both quite enjoyable.

However, beware of the “snowball”, if you’re trying to introduce people to modern board gaming stick with Dixit or even Catan, “how about a nice co-op?”, Harbor Expansion can really leave players hanging out to dry if you’re not careful.

 
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78 of 126 gamers found this helpful
“Kids love it.”

This expansion adds some fun cards, and a better system for drafting cards (10 at a time which makes each game different)

One problem: TUNA BOAT is an incredibly overpowered card. With harbor you get 2d6 gold whenever someone rolls high. Whoever gets this card wins basically. However, there is a solution.

Solution: Dont allow the HARBOR card to add 2 to the die roll. This makes TUNA BOAT and a few other cards (Like veggie and fruit stand) much more balanced.

 

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