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Micro Macro Crime City is the 2021 Spiel de Jahres winner and despite hearing the title and listening to various gaming podcasts, I had no r...

Micro-Macro: Crime City by Johannes Sich Micro-Macro: Crime City by Johannes Sich

Micro-Macro: Crime City by Johannes Sich

Micro-Macro: Crime City by Johannes Sich



Micro Macro Crime City is the 2021 Spiel de Jahres winner and despite hearing the title and listening to various gaming podcasts, I had no real conception of what it was until I played it for myself.  It is quite unlike any boardgame I’ve experienced before and more like Where’s Wally*: The boardgame.


*Where’s Waldo for our American readers.


It comes in an attractively slim box (which is still too large for the components) and one game plays in about 15 minutes or so.  However, I defy anyone to only play just one game of this before packing it away.  Each ‘game’ you’ll find yourself trying to work out who, why and how a particular crime was committed across an expansive fold-out isometric map of the eponymous ‘Crime City’.



Gameplay

During each case 1 to 4 players will pore over the large map of the city trying to find clues to answer the questions posed by the Case cards.  Only when you’ve found the right answer can you go onto the next card and after ten or so cards, you’ll find you’ve solved the case.


There are 16 increasingly difficult cases in the box which I completed in 4 games sessions, with friends and family alike.  Anyone can jump in to help you solve a case and you could even put this in front of someone with no experience of board games and they’ll do alright and have a good time.  All you need is a pair of eyes.  They do provide you with a plastic magnifier to look at some fine details, but this wasn’t used / necessary in my groups.



Each crime scene on the map can be referenced by coordinates round the outside (confirming you’ve got the clue’s answer right) and you’ll then use the hints left in the artwork to find the next answer.  Each element of the crime is unique to that crime so in order to find the next answer you’re left searching the now huge map for another appearance of that unique item.  These will appear some distance away from the last answer, but I was often surprised at how quickly our eyes homed in on the next object.  Meaning it never bogs down into boredom just searching and squinting for the smallest of details.




I would describe this as a very relaxed experience; players could easily drift in and out of the game.  I distinctly recall during my first session of this with 5 other players (3 kids, 2 adults), after the third case the adults drifted away, probably to get some time without kids if I’m being honest, and the kids kept playing the case by themselves and even started and finished the next case.  It’s incredibly simple to explain and fun to play and that is why I think it won the SdJ.  You’ll even be able to start playing the game before you’ve opened the box – how many board games can say that?


However, is it a boardgame? I’m not so sure…it’s a fun experience in its own right and I am impressed at how much detail the artists have got into the map, in fact there are more puzzles and scenes to solve both in the manual and online.  So I can’t really say I’ve completed it, but after finishing the 16 main cases I don’t have any desire to revisit the map / cases / game?  Like with any escape room style game, each case is for one time use only.



The best endorsement I can offer this is that it suffers from ‘one more turn’ syndrome, or in this case ‘one more case’.  You’ll be surprised at how many cases you’ll get through in one sitting, although thankfully they do get significantly harder at the 4 and 5 star levels.

Components

Just as the game is quite simple so are the components.  You’ll get 16 decks of cards (one for each mission) and a large paper map of the city.  I was initially concerned that repeated unfoldings and foldings would obscure some details but it’s stood up just fine, to where I would happily give it away to another family.  The main map damage has come from our bellies and bodies leaning over the map and creasing the corners.



The map itself is just black and white line art, however I think it is this simplicity that makes this game work and has become a recognised trade mark of the title.  My daughter wants to colour-in the whole map which although would look spectacular, I doubt would ever get finished and the colours would actually hinder gameplay.  Thankfully so far she’s not been brave enough to start and I think she’s forgotten…


The box provides a small micro-cosm of the City and poses one case to players even before they’ve opened the game.  This could be a fun diversion whist trying to pick new games in your FLGS but shows just how simple this game is to teach, play and involve all types of people.



Criticisms

I can’t really criticise the game for what it is.  I think it does it pretty much perfectly, ‘it’ being a fun, quick simple filler and why the SdJ chose it as their Kritikerpreis.  And although I did enjoy the experience of playing this with others it’s not a game (or its expansions) that I’ll be seeking out again.  It’s just not in wheelhouse and I’m finding more and more that my tastes don’t necessarily jive with the SdJ.  

Conclusion

I would heartily recommend this to gamers and non-gamers alike.  It’s cheap and different from pretty much anything that I’ve experienced before.  It plays quickly and is an enjoyable experience for everyone (if you’re comfortable climbing over each other to view the map from the best angle), and I’m pretty sure that you’ll suffer from ‘one more case’ as well.  It’s an extremely simple concept and it is done brilliantly here. 


I’d like to thank Asmodee UK for sending this review copy. You can use this link https://www.asmodee.co.uk/contentpage/find-your-game-store to find your Friendly Local Game Store, which need all the help they can get at the moment.


Designers: Johannes Sich
Playtime: 15 minutes +
Players: 1 - 4

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