Full disclosure: A review copy of MegaCity: Oceania was provided by Hub Games.
Oh, hey, look, a Gen Con release. I’m going to trickle them out for a bit, now, before just opening up the floodgates over the next few months. There are a lot of games coming out of the con (too many for me to safely schedule), but I’ll be talking about all of them in due time. Let’s kick this review off, where I talk about MegaCity: Oceania from Hub Games, who published Untold and localized Flip Over Frog! Time to see what’s going on with this one.
In MegaCity: Oceania, the year is 2100, and you’re working off the coast of Australia. As you do. Growing populations mean that you need to find new sources of habitation, and so you think that people should consider taking to the sea. After all, there’s all the water you could ever drink in the ocean, you think to yourself and are never fully corrected. Unfortunately, you find out that your rivals are also planning to be involved in the project, so you need to prove that you are the most prestigious of them all so that you can basically be in charge of everything. That’s always nice. So build, platform, construct, push, and work your way to victory. Will you be able to construct the city of the future? Or will your chances of victory end up sinking?
To set up, you should first make sure you have a pretty large, flat table surface. Shuffle the Platforms:
They’re double-sided, so flip those bad boys every now and then. Reveal three of them. Set aside the Landmark Contract Cards:
Shuffle the other Contract Cards:
Deal some out face-up:
- 2 players: 12
- 3 players: 14
- 4 players: 16
Just make sure that you have at least two cards of each color represented. If not, shuffle them back up and try dealing again, but better this time. You won’t use the other ones. Now, set out the Awards Bar (* side up; the ** side is for a friendlier game. You’re here to build cities, not lasting relationships):
Put the awards on the spaces indicated for them:
Set the tallest building marker and rulers next to them:
The tallest building marker is so tiny! It’s cute. Put the Prestige Tokens in some kind of pile:
I usually use one of those token bowls to help myself out, being real. Now, you can put all the Building Pieces into the handy bag:
There are a lot. Like, 150? Have the second player draw one randomly, the third player draw two, and the fourth player draw three. Give each player some Player Tokens:
And give each player a park, setting Central Park (the one with the lighter hex) in the center:
You should be ready to start!
So, a game of MegaCity: Oceania is played over multiple rounds, as players work to finish lucrative building contracts and move building platforms over the water to build a new megacity off of Australia’s Gold Coast. Just make sure nothing you build falls into the ocean!
On your turn, you generally get 2 Standard actions (3 in a two-player game):
- Take a Building Contract: You may take one of the four available Building Contracts (or fewer, depending on how late in the game you are) and add it to your play area. You may hold 3 in a two-player game; 2 otherwise.
- Take a Platform: You may take one of the three available Platforms and add it to your play area. You may, again, hold 3 in a two-player game; 2 otherwise.
- Take Building Pieces: You may randomly draw three pieces from the bag and add them to your play area, or you may name a material type and look through the bag for one piece of that material type. You may only have 15 Building Pieces in your play area between turns, though.
- Rezone a Platform: Flip a platform in your play area over. Each Platform’s hex vent is the same color as its opposite side, so you should always know what you’re getting.
- Refresh All Platforms: Put the three visible platforms on the bottom of the stack, and then pull out three more.
- Reorganize Building Contracts: Choose a stack of Building Contracts. Put the frontmost one in the back.
Instead of doing any of those actions, you may Deliver, instead. That’s big enough to warrant its own subheading.
The Deliver Action
When you say you’re going to deliver, show which contract you’re delivering and verify your building meets the height, piece count, and other architectural requirements. Everyone else should stop what they’re doing and verify / watch; this is officially a team sport. Also, add one of your player markers to the building somewhere (you can use that to inflate the height, if you’re feeling cheap).
Here’s the tough thing. To deliver a building, you must connect it to one of the tiles in the center of the play area (provided it’s no more than three tiles away from Central Park). Unfortunately, the tile is currently in your play area, so you’ll need to push it over there. Be careful! If it falls, your turn ends. Take your pieces back and try again later. If it gets there successfully, it’s connected! You may take one of several bonus actions, provided you qualify for them.
- Place a Park: You may place your park anywhere adjacent to the building you just delivered. That’s about all there is to say about that.
- Place a Monument: If your new building is adjacent to an empty Park Tile, you may add one of your Building Pieces to that Park Tile as a new Monument; now, every building adjacent to that Park Tile will score 1 point at the game’s end.
- Place / Replace the Central Park Monument: If you play a Public Building (purple), you may place one of your Building Pieces in the Central Park; any building adjacent to Central Park with that Building Piece in it will score a bonus point at the game’s end. If there’s already a Building Piece on Central Park, you may return it to the bag before putting your own on the space.
Then, check to see if you gained any Bonus Prestige Points:
- New Tallest Building: If your Building is now the tallest building, place the Tallest Building Marker on it and gain one point.
- Single Material Bonus: If your Building is only composed of pieces of one type, gain one point.
- Central Park Monument Placement: If you added a Central Park Monument as a result of placing your Building, you may gain one point.
Note that you can gain any combination of these points on a turn. If your Public Building is a giant glass-only skyscraper, you can gain 3 bonus points.
Some Clarifications on Falling
If you knock over a building while delivering it, as mentioned, you take all the pieces back into your supply along with the Platform. If you knock over other buildings, though, those pieces fall into the ocean and are not recoverable; remove them from the game. If this results in the tallest building being knocked over, move the Tallest Building Marker to the new tallest building. No player gains a point.
If a player is intentionally knocking over buildings to try and make sure they have the tallest building, remove them from the game.
Yeah, so the rules are a tiny bit unclear, in my opinion. Generally, we ask players not to spend too much time building on their turn, and we pretty explicitly disallow it in four-player games. Try to build between turns, not during them. In a two-player game you kind of have to. Just don’t be a huge jerk.
You can stack pieces however you want, so long as you cover the three white ports on every Platform and you don’t cover the hexagonal vent (unless you have an Architectural Requirement that you need to do so).
End of the Game
So, when the final Standard Contract is taken, the Landmark Contracts become available. You may take one like you would a normal Contract, but only if you have no Standard Contracts left in your play area. You may also only work on one at a time.
When the final Standard Contract is completed, all players get one final turn. This also happens if the Building Pieces run out. Then, they get a sort-of-bonus-turn: each player may Deliver or Recycle.
- Final Deliver: You may only use this to deliver a complete Landmark Contract. Note that if it falls, you take the pieces back into your supply, as normal, which is very bad.
- Recycle: You may put all your pieces back into the bag and gain 1 Prestige point.
Then, give out awards:
- Specialization Awards: Give out a Specialization Award in each color to the player who has completed the most points’ worth of Contracts in each color (including Landmarks).
- Diversity Award: A player can earn a Diversity Award by completing a contract of each color.
- Tallest Building Award: The player with the current tallest building earns 3 Prestige points.
Remember to also take a point for each of your buildings adjacent to a park (and remember if a building is adjacent to multiple parks it can score multiple points). Also take a point for each of your buildings adjacent to Central Park that contain the Monument piece. Finally, for every three Building Pieces you have, lose 1 point. That’s just wasteful.
The player with the most points wins!
For a simpler game, use the ** side of the Awards Bar. Also:
- No Prestige points.
- No Landmark Contracts.
- No Monuments.
- The game ends when the final Standard Contract is built or the Building Pieces run out. No final turn(s).
- If you didn’t place your Park, lose 2 points.
Player Count Differences
For me, the major one is at lower player counts, you have a lot less downtime between turns. Normally that’s something I’d praise, but, in this game, you need that downtime to build efficiently. We’ve kinda legislated that you shouldn’t build during your turn except in 2P games, but I would be fine limiting that to “you cannot build on your turn once you’ve taken Building Pieces”, since that seems like a pretty consistent and enforceable rule. One thing you can try to watch out for at higher player counts is trying to get your buildings between two parks; if you can swing it, that’s double points for you for at least a couple of them, which is awesome. The game takes a smidge longer at higher player counts, but there aren’t as many contracts per player, so the timing mostly balances out. 2P is interesting for the additional bonus action players get on their turns, so I actually like both ends of the player spectrum, though I think the city is more dynamic at higher player counts. I like 2 players pretty solidly, but I think the game plays best at 3 – 4 players.
- Remember that platform vents are the same color as the opposite side of the platform. This is just kinda critical, especially if someone snakes you and takes the Contract you were about to go after. Just flip the Platform as an action and you’re good to go.
- Be efficient. You should not be doing a lot of flipping Platforms or cycling Contracts; the more you do of that, the fewer building pieces and Contracts that you’re getting for yourself. Efficient play is key to executing and winning, especially in this game.
- Grab lots of pieces and start to separate the colors. Ideally, you want around five of each color, for starters; lots of buildings can be built with just five pieces, and plenty will ban certain colors being used in their construction. To that end, having more options is good.
- Try to build buildings of one color if you can. This is the real one if you can swing it. That’s a free point for every building, which is quite the feat. If you can’t make it work, though, don’t worry; focus on building increasingly tall buildings, instead. That way, you still get to get bonus points (and you potentially block opponents getting the Tallest Building Marker.
- It’s easier to build taller buildings at the start of the game, in my opinion. I think this is due to a minor bias where players tend to pull bigger pieces at the start of the game (since there are usually more in the bag and they’re big so your hand tends to notice them), but that means you’re going to have slightly bigger pieces for frames, so you can build higher. Not really a complaint, just worth knowing if you’re going for Tallest.
- Keep an eye on what other players are building and completing. I played one game where a player took a Contract they couldn’t fulfill and, in doing so, blocked another player from taking that Contract, the only one that they could fulfill. It was great for me; not so much so for them. Be mindful.
- Don’t take the last Standard Contract, if you can avoid it. This makes it challenging for you to fulfill Landmark Contracts unless you spend a few extra turns preparing for it. Additionally, if you spend too much time preparing for it, then other players can snipe the Contract you’re going for and leave you with nothing. I personally wait for someone else to do the work of taking the last Standard Contract, first.
- Also watch to see which Contracts you can take to block players from achieving their goals / earning certain awards. I mean, if you want to play like the other players I just mentioned did, I can’t stop you, but I definitely took some Landmark Contract I couldn’t fulfill just to make sure that nobody else would have the chance to fulfill it. If they did, successfully, they would get the Purple Specialization Award. If nobody did, then I would. That’s how you gotta do it, sometimes.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- The dexterity component is delightful. I mean, it’s also nicely thematic, though I feel like you’d probably assemble the buildings while the platform is in place? Who knows.
- Probably one of the coolest games I’ve seen in terms of table presence. When the game’s done, you’ve got such a cool city going for you. It’s expansive; everything is different heights; I love it.
- Really plays to player creativity. We have house-ruled that you need to name and provide a brief description of the building when you place it to encourage people to get more invested and thoughtful in their construction.
- Love the box. It’s got great art, and it’s a nice size for the components and such. The insert is well-made, also, though the components will eventually fly around if it’s stored vertically (which is my plan; oops).
- The length of the game seems about right. I never feel like the game overstays its welcome, which I genuinely appreciate. It’s a solid hour, most plays, but there’s always something to do.
- Building during other players’ turns makes the downtime of the game more engaging. I barely pay attention to them on their turns; I’d much rather be building some elaborate structure.
- I regret not having an oceanic playmat. It would look so cool on an ocean playmat or something. Just some waves or something or a nice, pleasant blue; I should really get one.
- I wish it were easier to randomly draw pieces. There’s some component of being able to feel the size of a piece before you pull it, and I worry that biases players towards picking larger pieces (and in my experience this has been what happened). A nice dispenser or something that would just dump out a few pieces at a time would be great, albeit hard to build.
- I feel like you should get some kind of consolation benefit if your building falls. If you have like, two buildings fall on you during delivery, you’re probably going to lose the game if nobody else has experienced that. It would be nice if there were a way for those players to catch up a bit, should they get somewhat stymied by that.
- I’m not a huge fan of the Tallest Building Marker moving if the building is knocked down. I think that incentivizes dishonest play. I’d much rather it stay on the platform and only move if a building taller than the now-tallest building is constructed. I may try house-ruling that and seeing where that gets me.
Overall: 9 / 10
Yeah, overall, I’m pretty convinced MegaCity: Oceania is a triumph, as far as I’m concerned. I can see where some people are going to have issues with it. The dexterity bit won’t be for everyone, and I don’t think it’s got quite the catch-up mechanism I’m looking for. The nice thing is, though, that even if you’re getting clowned, there’s always a lot of cool stuff to do and build, so I feel like players get a lot of accomplishment out of the game regardless of their actual placement. To be fair, that’s a known bias I have towards building games; it’s part of why I love Catch the Moon so much, and even why I enjoyed Expancity, Carcassonne, and other games where you’re trying to build out a physical presence. I think those games are really, really cool, and I generally love seeing what’s being innovated on in those spaces. And I think this is innovative! It took TOKYO JUTAKU‘s pieces and elevated them into a pretty solid strategy game, which is worth celebrating, in my mind. Plus, it’s got a cool theme, great color scheme, and awesome table presence, so I’d say I’m not out of line to say that I’m really enthusiastic about i! Hopefully you’ll get a chance to try it soon, but either way I’d definitely recommend MegaCity: Oceania! I’ve quite liked it.