One of the better games to come out in 2020 was Reiner Knizia’s legacy game My City. It gave people a family-friendly legacy game that had them building their own city using polyomino-shaped tiles. While I never finished the campaign, mostly because of a crabby player at my gaming table who clearly hates fun, I enjoyed my time with the campaign.
This year, Dr. Knizia is back at the drafting table with My City: Roll and Build. Much like many other games have done, it seeks to take the essence of the core game and distill it down to a quicker-playing experience. Does the roll and write format work on a legacy-style city builder? Let’s find out.
The “campaign” for My City: Roll and Build is played over 12 episodes, broken up into 4 chapters. Each game is played over a number of rounds, and continues until all players decide to be finished. At the start of a round, a player rolls the three dice. Two of the dice are matched together to form the shape that must be drawn, while the third dice shows which type of building is to be constructed.
The first shape you draw must be placed next to the river, while subsequent shapes need to touch a previously drawn shape. There are also the standard drawing rules you’d expect: no overlaying shapes, has to be on the grid, can’t go past the outside border, etc.
If you don’t want to draw a building, you can pass, at the expense of ever-increasing penalty points (up to 6 times). Once a player feels like they don’t want to risk passing anymore (or runs out of passes), they are done for the round. Once all players have passed, the round ends, and scores are totaled. The first episode awards points for uncovered trees, and substracts points for exposed rocks, empty spaces, and passes.
If you are playing the campaign, you play a total of 3 episodes and then total your score for the chapter. The most points wins.
If My City: Roll and Build sounds a bit basic, it’s because episode one pretty much is. Like you’d expect from a legacy/campaign game, the rules increase in complexity as you progress through it. Most of the games in Chapter 1 are pretty straightforward, and shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to get going. However, once you get into later chapters, things really start to amp up.
I think the mechanics in the game work really well. From how the dice determine the shapes to players deciding when they want to bow out, there is a lot of good stuff here. This is especially true once you get past Chapter 1 and the game starts throwing more things at you. From what I can remember from playing the original My City, there is a lot here that seems to be inspired by the original game. So there should be plenty here for fans of My City to enjoy.
That being said, My City: Roll and Build doesn’t really feel like a campaign game. Other than a few bits near the end of the campaign, nothing really carries over (other than your score) from one game to another. You could jump right into episode 4 of the campaign and nothing will play out differently than if you had started with the first 3 episodes.
The player count for My City: Roll and Build lists out at 1-6 players, but that’s really only limited by the components. If you make copies of the sheets, you could, for the most part, play with 100 people. Other than some “first to build X” rules in Chapter 3, there is about zero player interaction in this game. On the plus side, it makes for a good solo game. The rulebook even has a chart in the back to let you know how well you score.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on the components. My City: Roll and Build has to be one of the cheapest produced games I’ve seen in a while. The entire contents of the box include 1 rulebook, 1 pad of 144 doubled-sided sheets of paper (enough for 32 plays of each episode or fewer if you are not playing solo), and 3 dice. Those dice though are, for lack of a better word, crappy. They are hollow plastic with stickers on the sides. It feels like prototype components I might have gotten from the Gamecrafter. Certainly not something I would expect to get from an experienced publisher like Kosmos. No pencils, no laminated sheets, no frills. The game feels like it couldn’t have cost more than $1.00 to manufacture.
My City: Roll and Build is a nice game that is both easy to get to the table and highly portable. If you were so inclined, you could laminate a set of sheets, and then just travel with 3 dice and a few sheets. So on that front, it’s a win. However the components themselves definitely feel lackluster, and calling this a campaign game is a bit of a stretch. You could jump right into Episode 8 and it would play the exact same way whether or not you had played Episodes 1-7.
Yet at the end of the day, we still had fun with My City: Roll and Build. As long as you go in knowing what you are getting (for both components and campaign-style play), there is a lot to be enjoyed here. It’s a nice, casual roll-and-write game that should appeal to players looking for something easy to get to the table.
Final Score: 3 Stars – A solid roll and write that’s easy to get to the table, but feels cheaply made.
• Not really much to the “campaign”
• Feels really cheaply made