MegaCity: Oceania Review

It’s the year 2100. Gold Coast, Australia. Sometime in the 2080s, the Schoolies arrived to party and never left. The mainland city has been taken over by endless partying, and the general population has decided to finally construct a peaceful new floating city offshore. Contracts are being handed out left right and centre to companies keen to get in on the action. Each company will build their floating, gleaming, towering structures elsewhere on the ocean will float them into place. Of course we are seeking profit, but more importantly, as the world looks on, we are seeking prestige. And to get away from those ever partying teens!

2-4 Players| 1 Hour | Deigned by Jordan Draper and Michael Fox

I actually didn’t initially realise that Jordan Draper was a co-designer of this game until I first un-boxed it and had a look at the construction pieces. I thought ‘hmm, I wonder if Jordan knows someone has ripped of the pieces from TOKYO Jutaku‘ before I glanced at the box and saw his name there. I then immediately assumed that MegaCity must have been cooked up whole fooling around with a copy of Jutaku, and co-designer Micheal confirms this is the case in the ‘Launch Announcement’ thread for the game on BoardGameGeek. I think the idea of ‘evolving’ and building games upon one another is very interesting, and in this case the games are even more closely linked than games that are merely mechanically inspired, which is pretty cool to see.

A towering metropolis!

How does it work?

MegaCity: Oceania is a dexterity game that includes elements of strategy that make it less of a ‘who is the best at building’ game. Players add buildings to a collective city (which begins as a lone Central Park) to score prestige points throughout the game. The player with the most prestige at the game’s end is the winner.

Play is turn based. On a player’s turn, they may collect new building contracts, construction platforms, and building pieces. Building contracts specify some constraints on delivered buildings -what colour platform they are on, what materials they can be made of, and how tall they need to be. Players will need to gather together matching contracts, platforms and pieces before they can begin building.

When it’s not your turn, you spend your time constructing buildings that will satisfy your contracts. When it comes to your turn, if you have a building ready to deliver, you confirm that it satisfies your contract’s requirements, and then carefully slide it across the table to add it to the city. If it makes it to the city, success! – score some points and start a new project. If it’s not stable enough to make the trip and falls down before arriving, your turn is over and you reclaim the pieces to try again next time.

Play continues until all contracts are fulfilled, and then some final ‘super contracts’ are revealed with a short window open for their completion. After that the game is over and players total their prestige points to see who made the best contribution!

Contracts, construction platforms, and awards.

What do I think?

I’ve played MegaCity five or so times now with varying groups and I think it has been generally well received by most people, although I can see a few players didn’t particularly enjoy the game because of its dexterity elements. I think this is just a fact of life for dexterity based games as they don’t generally provide all players with a level playing field. I also only played the game at 4 players. I’m not sure how it would go with 2 players, there could be a bit more waiting around. Mechanically I don’t see there would be any issues.

The Good Stuff

  • Hub Games has put together a visual treat in MegaCity. The vibrant colours of the construction platforms contrast with the sleek neutral colours of the building pieces to create a very striking city. Everything is lovely quality, from the cardboard components to the building pieces.
  • While playing the game, watching other people building is very entertaining. I derive a lot of enjoyment from seeing the interesting ways others build and create. There has been lots of table talk during my plays, the game is very conducive to friendly jibes.
  • The way the draw bag works as a latent mechanic is really cool. Because larger pieces are naturally drawn first, the bag slowly empties of those and later in the game the challenge is increased by having to deal with the leftover small pieces on increasingly tall structures.
  • The dexterity game-play is very fun. Construction is generally straight forward but deliveries can be tense. You quickly learn to design your buildings to be robust to delivery.
  • As a creative outlet MegaCity excels. Often the games I play only let players demonstrate their creativity strategically, but it’s amazing to see what different people do with the pieces and the final city is always truly unique, and an impressive sight.
  • MegaCity is a great family game. The game has a low rules overhead and is attractive looking which makes it easy to draw in players. The game uses a variety of different skills and allows for spatial learning.
  • There are different play styles available that can mitigate the dexterous requirement and are equally competitive. If you have shaky hands you still stand a chance to win by playing conservatively (don’t go for tallest building) and doing a quantity over quality strategy. There is certainly scope to win MegaCity via pumping out clumsy piles of pieces.
  • The rulebook is well laid out and concise. It teaches the game effectively in a natural order and includes plenty of examples.
  • Whatever the plastic the pieces are made out of makes a fantastic chink chink chink sound in the bag. I love it!

The Bad Stuff

  • I’m not sure if this is really a good thing or a bad thing, (I found it enjoyable at least) – we ended up keeping a small file nearby when playing to flatten down sprue marks around the edges of building pieces. They are extremely minor and you could argue that they are supposed to be a facet of the game but I’m an Engineer and won’t accept less than perfect pieces, especially when towering structures are concerned! So maybe ‘be warned’ regarding this point.
  • The rulers included in the game were too short! Maybe this is a bit of a humble brag but we quickly found ourselves needing to seek additional measuring tools to determine heights of buildings well over 120 stories.
  • I mentioned above that I really like the way the bag progresses from ‘easy’ pieces to ‘hard’ (small) pieces. While this is cool, it can pose problems. Drawing a ‘random’ tile from the bag isn’t like grabbing a scrabble tile. They are all different sizes and shapes, and even if it’s subconscious players may be tempted to dig around for ‘better’ feeling pieces. I don’t think there is a good solution to this though. When I think of how Junk Art handles this issue (with a deck corresponding to the pieces) I can easily see that doesn’t work for this game.
  • I think that the rules around the parks are too convoluted, and don’t fit with the otherwise simple rules of this game. Parks give points for adjacent buildings, but only if ‘activated’ later. I think when explaining the game, I find myself spending almost half of the rules explanation on the quirks of parks. I am often tempted to leave them out or make a simpler house rule. There is a simplified variant, but to be honest I think variants can confuse people new to gaming.
  • The tallest building marker is kind of useless. My one doesn’t hold together. We don’t use it, but we don’t have any issues remembering the previously tallest building anyway. It’s a pretty big deal when the current tallest building is usurped (on one occasion we’ve needed to call in an independent assessor!)
  • The etiquette on passing when deep in building is a challenge in this game. While you do build outside of your turn, sometimes your turn arrives and you aren’t ready to deliver. If it’s going to be a while you can grab some pieces or a new contract to take up your turn, but occasionally you don’t want to or it isn’t an option. In these cases it’s polite to pass but a seasoned gamer can easily see how doing this a few times can get you ‘behind’. This hasn’t really been a problem for us as we are happy to wait and we play pretty casually, but it’s something to keep in mind.
  • The game has a very large box (Ticket to Ride size but deeper). As I slip further into my boardgaming addiction this is an increasing concern of mine. While it’s not really that bad, I do appreciate a game that respects my shelving with a compact box. I feel the box could have been a bit smaller.
  • None of the contracts are particularly challenging to complete, they are just a check-list of sensible requirements. It would be cool if there was an alternate deck of dexterously difficult build requirements for a ‘hard mode’ game. Things like ‘whole building balanced on one base piece’ and ‘vertical pieces only’. Maybe an ‘other players may throw their prestige points at your building during delivery but you get to keep them’.
Some varied building designs.

I was curious to see what MegaCity: Oceania was like when I first heard about it and upon playing it the game lived up to my expectations. I think it’s a great example of how you can include dexterity as a mechanic in ‘strategy’ games and it pulls it off well. Among people I’ve played it with, it has had a wide appeal and I think that it works particularly well as a family game that allows children and adults to play something together. If you are interested in finding out more about the game or grabbing a copy for yourself, check out the Hub Games Store, and I’ve seen it at my local games shop!

The copy of MegaCity: Oceania used for this review was provided to The Boardgame Detective by Hub Games.

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