Last year I wrote a review about Machi Koro, the city builder card game. Back then I limited myself to the basic game without any expansions. So today I will tell you more about Machi Koro’s first expansion, called The Harbor. You can expect comparisons between playing the basic game and playing the basic game with the expansion and how I experienced the gameplay.

So let’s start first with checking if you know about Machi Koro? If you don’t I think it’s best that you read that article first: Board Game Review: Machi Koro

So Machi Koro: The Harbor introduces a pack of new cards into the game: new establishments, landmarks and boats!

Gameplay Comparison

Coins

The expansion adds a new value of coins to the game: Now the highest value is 20.

Machi Koro Purple Coins

Players

The basic game can be played up to four players. But with the expansion you can play up to five players.

The Market

In the basic game you had the building market all laid out. (see pictures for example)

Machi Koro Building market

You could literally see all the different establishments you could buy and build. And choose to build them whenever you had the money for it.

With the expansion this is more randomized. Now you will shuffle all the establishments into one stack and lay ten cards open in the building market. If you draw one that’s already in the market, just put it on top of the first one.

Machi Koro Airport

Players can now only buy what’s available in the market and as soon as they buy something a new card is drawn from the stack so that there are always ten establishments on the market.

Personally, I like this change a lot because it makes the game more challenging.

New establishments

There are two different groups of establishments: regular establishments and major establishments.

If you read the previous review or already played the basic game you will know that you can recognize regular establishments from the card colors. Blue, green and red cards are all regular establishments.(just establishments actually)

The purple colored cards are major establishments and are more expensive to build.

Major Establishments

Previously there were only major establishments with a dice roll of 6 on the top. Now the expansion brings us major establishments with dice rolls starting from 6 to 9. (not on one card though) So this increases the chance that actually profit from their benefit.

Establishments

The expansion also provides us with a lot of new establishments from every color. But the ones that have the biggest influence on the gameplay are the boats. Well, actually just the Tuna Boat.

The Mackerel Boat is just like the other blue establishments. If anyone throws the dice and it matches the required dice throw, you get x coins from the bank.

Machi Koro Airport

The Tuna Boat however is a different story. If you own a Tuna Boat someone will have to throw a 12, 13 or 14. Wait…! A 13 or 14? This can’t be right.

Well, here’s the deal: it can but you’ll need to have a specific landmark for it. (it will be further explained under the landmark section)

So the benefit of a Tuna Boat is very interesting. If it’s triggered the player whose turn it is may throw the dice to determine how many coins that Tuna Boat will earn you. And if you have multiple Tuna Boats, of course the value will be multiplied by that number.

So for example if the player throws a ten and you own 2 Tuna Boats, you will earn 20 coins from the bank. Pretty sweet huh?!

Machi Koro Airport

New Landmarks!

The basic game let’s you start with this setup:

  • a wheat field and a bakery
  • four landmark cards with an “in-construction” sign, that need to be build to win the game.

Machi Koro Basic Setup

With the expansion you will have to build more landmarks to win the game and you have one that’s already build from the start: City Hall. The new landmarks will have some pretty neat advantages, if you know how to use them correctly. Apart from that nothing has changed here. You still have the basic setup of the wheat field and bakery.

Let’s go over the new landmarks in detail:

City Hall

City Hall delivers you one coin when you are completely broke. If you have no coins during the start of your turn and after you throwed the dice, then the buyers phase starts and you will receive one coin. But only if you didn’t receive coins from the dice throw.

Machi Koro City Hall

The Harbor

The Harbor is one landmark that might nog make a lot of sense if you’re playing the expansion for the first time. it says: “If the dice total is 10 or more, you may add 2 to the total on your turn only”. So why would you do that?

Machi Koro Harbor

Airport

The most expensive landmark to be constructed is now the airport. If you build this it will ensure you some fast cash, because every time you build nothing during your turn it will deliver you 10 coins from the bank. Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

Machi Koro Airport

Conclusion

So that’s pretty much covers it.

The plus side of buying and playing the expansion is that it makes the game more challenging and random. Since you cannot just buy everything whenever you want it anymore. The game can also be won by more different strategies than the basic game. With the bigger reach of major establishments you can earn more money with those. Previously they sometimes felt like a waste of money. That’s a lot less with the expansion.

A bit of a downside is that if you play with people with no real board game experience, it might be a bit harder for them to get into the game. Not always of course, it depends on the player, but the limited market does make it more difficult to play for new players.

I hope you enjoyed the review, so start playing!

“Life is a winking light in the darkness.” Hayao Miyazaki

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