Review: Megacity: Oceania

cover

Length 45-60 minutes

Release Date Q4 2019

Designers: Jordan Draper, Michael Fox
Publisher: Hub Games
Category: Dexterity, City-Building
Player Count: 2-4
Price: $55.00

MegaCity: Oceania is a dexterity and strategy game from publisher Hub Games that sees players building unique, futuristic constructs off the coast of Australia. Players will balance their available actions – along with literally balancing building pieces – as they construct original buildings by hand with different shapes and rules. Does MegaCity stack up, or fall to pieces at the table? 

Review

On every turn, players have 2 actions to use. They can collect pieces from the bag, choose a contract card, reset one of the contract stacks (sending the top card to the back), pick a platform to build on, reset the platforms (discard the 3 revealed platforms for 3 new ones), or flip over one of their own platforms. Each platform has two colors, as indicated by the exhaust port that cannot be covered unless otherwise directed by the contract card. Buildings do need to cover the three utility ports, indicated by the three white circles. Also at the player’s disposal is the Deliver action, which takes their whole turn but lets them deliver a building to the city. 

Play continues until the last standard contract has been taken, then the four special contracts become available. These contracts are more challenging, but also more rewarding. Each one requires a height of 75+ along with other constraints. The final round is triggered when the last standard contract is completed, then each player gets a final turn to Deliver or Recycle. Victory points are then added up and bonuses assigned, and a winner is declared. 

Measuring ruler, post-game awards, bonus VPs, and player cubes for marking buildings.

My best tall tower constructed in-game.

While the strategy element takes a backseat to dexterity, I found myself wanting to play another game of MegaCity as soon as one was finished. It has the hands-on fun and visual appeal of Tokyo Highway, along with the thoughtful building setup of Blueprints. I really enjoy any game that lets me build a 3D city and watch it grow and expand, and MegaCity does this better than any other game I’ve played yet. And while it can be frustrating if a building falls over, unless it ruins someone’s tallest tower it actually has little gameplay impact. Players receive bonuses for their buildings when they place them if they’re made out of a singular material or if they’re the newest tall tower in the city, but other than claiming a small bonus for tallest tower at the end of the game, it wouldn’t be a huge impact if the table gets bumped. This is different than Tokyo Highway, where if someone drops a road halfway through the game it can cause a chain reaction of groans and sad city architects. 

Varied construction is encouraged by both the random pieces on hand and the contracts – some put limits on what materials may be used, others ask for ground floor or upper floor archways, while still others ask you to partially cover the exhaust port or not have any overhanging levels. These challenges, along with continually striving for the tallest skyscraper in the city make up for the lightness of the strategy, which might be an issue if a player is used to strategy-heavy games. MegaCity is definitely a dexterity game with a smidgen of strategy, not the other way around. Players will benefit from carefully considering their actions each turn, but thankfully, games will not be won or lost based on one round. 

The real tension comes from when players make a delivery – play stops, and everyone is directed to cease any building. The player making the delivery then attempts to slide their architectural wonder into place in the city; should it fall en route, that player’s turn is forfeited. Construction of new buildings is supposed to happen outside of the player’s active turn, which helps keep interest at the table. On the flip side it can also make the game drag a bit with just two people, so this is a rare game that I would actually rather play with the maximum of four. 

MegaCity will play more smoothly if all players are able to handle the fine-motor skills needed to place and adjust pieces, and keep from bumping or shaking the table in-between turns. Because of this I would say that the age recommendation of 8 years and over is a good idea, but obviously your experience may vary based on the padawans you play with. 

The game materials themselves are high-quality; the cards have a good feel and the cardboard of the platforms is nice and thick. The plastic building materials that make up the “glass, steel, and concrete” all feel the same thickness and roughness, which is good when you’re pulling random ones out of the bag. They also manage to toe the line of being well-made enough to stand on end, but not so sturdy that you can easily pull off crazy-tall buildings without support and planning. Bottom line, I haven’t noticed any wear and tear in my plays, and I don’t expect to see any for many games to come. 

Every game will turn out buildings and cities that are wildly different.

A game like MegaCity: Oceania is an odd but beautiful beast – it’s more focused on dexterity than strategy, but not in the usual sense. Instead of flicking something, players will strive to build futuristic-looking architectural wonders piece by piece, adding to a growing tableau of a floating city. There’s a satisfactory feeling of accomplishment in successfully sliding a new tallest tower in place, one that I think many players would enjoy. 

A review copy was provided by the publisher. 

The Bottom Line

A game like MegaCity: Oceania is an odd but beautiful beast - it’s more focused on dexterity than strategy, but not in the usual sense. Instead of flicking something, players will strive to build futuristic-looking architectural wonders piece by piece, adding to a growing tableau of a floating city. There’s a satisfactory feeling of accomplishment in successfully sliding a new tallest tower in place, one that I think many players would enjoy. 

 

8.3