For me, family games usually feature easy rules, straightforward mechanics, and lots of laughter. Some board games scream “family” when I play them. Think of those old ads for The Game Of Life, parents with children looking super excited to make more babies and pay for their college! Enter MegaCity: Oceania from Hub Games. Designed by Jordan Draper and Michael Fox, tasks 2-4 players with building a giant city that floats on the top of the ocean (the game table). To do this, players will draw uniquely shaped plastic pieces out of a bag and use them fulfill contracts to build particular structures. The structures have requirements for minimum height, a set number of pieces, and often specific architectural features, like archways and courtyards.
Once a player builds a structure on its hexagonal platform, she is required to physically push the platform toward the center of the table to join the MegaCity. If the building loses any pieces during the process, the player must restart that building from scratch and loses her turn. If the building is successfully delivered, the player will score prestige points commensurate with its difficulty. This mechanic is fresh and fun, and elicited the most laughs at the table. Once all contracts are fulfilled the game ends, and after applying bonuses for accomplishments such as having built the tallest building, the player with the most prestige is the victor.
MegaCity: Oceania is not a heavy game by any means. In fact, I think a heavy gamer would not enjoy more than one or two plays, although I think they would really enjoy those one or two plays. But I don’t think this game was meant for them, and that’s O.K. I think we can use games that evoke the old school tactile “feel” of games like Mouse Trap or Operation, but also modernize these types of mechanics. To me, that is where MegaCity finds its niche. The game plays in less than an hour. The components are solid and creative, making you WANT to play with them. The sounds of plastic pieces swirling around in the bag while I feel around for the ones I need brings me back to my childhood, and that is a good thing. In a time when we continue to dash around at the expense of face-to-face interaction, it is necessary for humanity to have more reasons to gather around a table together and laugh. MegaCity: Oceania provides another good reason to do that. Check it out if you get the chance.
Thanks for reading, and keep nerding on.