An Analysis of Machi Koro

Machi Koro is a management and resource development board-game distributed by Grounding Inc. (Japan) and IDW Games/Pandasaurus Games (US), and designed by Masao Suganuma. Machi Koro produces a tangible understanding of Capitalism by placing the emphasis on economic expansion through investment in infrastructure and enterprise.

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Machi Koro applies simple mechanics requiring 2-4 players, has an arranged collection and relies on dice for progress. Each player begins with two investments with the aim to develop four specific infrastructures to win. How each player reaches said establishments depends on the various strategies the coloured cards offer. Each coloured cards (24 starting cards and 84 supply cards) have differing components: 

  • BlueRepresents agricultural resources allowing all players to earn income when someone rolls the matching number.
  • GreenManufacturing and distribution outlets that produce income when the individual rolls the matching number.
  • RedHospitality and retail investments that earn income when an opponent rolls the matching number.
  • PurplePurple cards represent substantial establishments that allow the individual to take money or investments from any opponent when the player rolls the matching number.

Card design is attractive and simple with the noted asset illustrated in a colourful cartoon, and cost represented by number and coin with return on investment clearly written below the cartoon. The simplicity of Machi Koro doesn’t stop at the cards, with the box weight at 0.64 kg and dimensions of 23.18 width and length x 6.99 height. Additionally the depth of the box allows for future expansions depending on product success.

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Gameplay is smooth with each player having a ‘vested interest’ in each roll, with the opportunity for income or expenditure. However issues arise when a card is rolled that requires remuneration from an opponent that fails to have appropriate funds. Rather than acquisition of opponent assets the turn is ultimately skipped. This becomes problematic as the investment fails to pay its dues and the player cannot forcibly acquire compensation.

According to Google Machi Koro pricing is between 40.00 AUD – 55.00 AUD. The cost of Machi Koro is the result of box size, with smaller packaging allowing for cheaper distribution. Due to differing distribution channels, product pricing will depend on the outlet that the consumer purchases from. Distribution costs for January – September through Amazon Fulfilment for a 0.64kg package is 2.99 USD. Monthly storage for Amazon costs 0.64 USD per cubic foot. However for the October – December period distribution costs are reduced by 0.22 and storage costs increase by 1.71. Thus allowing the relatively cheap price of Machi Koro. 

Dependant on company policy, Machi Koro can be distributed from Amazon’s centres through purchase from another channel (i.e. another company or website) through Amazon’s Multi-Channel Fulfilment, however costs are roughly .10 cents higher. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia pricing for Machi Koro and other retail products is largely dependant on five types of costs incurred in order to distribute to the market; company channel costs (includes freight and tariffs), expenditure of business activities, net margin, retailers expenditure of business and the retailers net margin. Due to Australia’s geographic position this increases freight costs.

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Due to the internet distribution of tabletop games has changed, with the nexus community designing an online simulator for Machi Koro. This is a reflection of the rising ‘print and playand online board game market.

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The success of Machi Koro can be attributed to its relevance to resource based games such as Monopoly, and similarities in design to The Sims and Farmville. Marketed as the opportunity for an individual to take upon the role of the city mayor, Machi Koro allows the individual to experience the planning and strategy of investment without tangible risk. Furthermore it provides a recreational construct relevant to the political and economical system that western individual’s experience.


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