Spotlight Series: My City
Legacy games have been around for a few years now, and it looks like they’re here to stay. They don’t always impress everyone, however. A lot of people steer away from legacy games, sometimes due to misconceptions, or sometimes due to limitations on disposable resources. As typical in hobby board games, though, the genre is evolving.
My City bills itself as a legacy game, but it doesn’t bear the standard trappings of legacy games. It doesn’t seem to be the grand, expansive - and expensive - experience that legacy games typically offer. So how does My City live up to its expectations? Why are North Americans so excited for it?
Making Your Mark
Legacy games have always defied one of the most basic expectations of a board game - namely, players alter and sometimes destroy components in the course of playing. On the face of it, that seems like a terrible idea. However, anyone who has played a legacy game can tell from experience… it’s not really like that. It’s more like customizing your game. The decisions you and your friends make leave impressions on the game, but the game responds and remains playable. The best legacy games even take the impressions that players make and weave them into an epic tale, told over the course of a dozen or two games.
My City has the standard legacy feature of sealed envelopes included in the box. These envelopes are only opened after a certain number of games. The exact contents of these envelopes, and what impact they have on play, are tantalizing secrets. The unique thing that My City does, though, is it only includes additive legacy pieces. There are stickers, new cards, and new tiles, and My City never tells players to destroy components. So when players are personalizing their copies of My City as they’re playing, they’re only adding to the game, never taking away.
Two Sides to the Story
Another aspect that makes some people reticent over starting a legacy game is the commitment. One session of some of the most popular games can take one or two hours. Their campaigns often span between one or two dozen sessions. You want to play the whole thing with the same group of people, too. And, the game can’t be played without the legacy elements, especially during the campaign. The game is locked in on telling this story, as amazing as the story may be.
It’s an excellent point of design that My City has two-sided player boards. One side is meant for the legacy campaign of the game, and will include the stickers and marks that players place. The flip side of the player boards, though, is a version of the board that doesn’t change. This lets players choose to play My City in either mode, even in the middle of a campaign.
As the genre is evolving, there’s a certain quality that almost every legacy shares: they’re big. In many ways. The boxes are big, they’re expensive, and their campaigns are time-consuming. This is tantalizing to a lot of hobby board gamers… but also puts them out of reach for some. Sometimes, legacy games are a level of complexity that makes finding dedicated players difficult, as well. Gloomhaven is a prime example of this.
And here My City comes to the rescue again. The basic rules of My City are very simple and straightforward - you flip a construction card over, and players place the indicated tile on their board. For scoring, you just count terrain features on your board, and that’s basically it. Anyone can pick up and play My City even if they don’t have a lot of experience with hobby board games. The individual game matches are quick, too, running about 20 or 30 minutes.
To top all this off, My City is probably the most affordable legacy game available, excepting perhaps this one cool children’s game with legacy features. My City is affordable enough that the risk of even just trying to game is worth it.
My City, My Way
It’s easy to see why My City has been popular in Europe, where smaller, tighter games are much more popular. The excitement has caught on in North America too, and hobby board gamers are pleased that My City is finally being released here. However even those people who aren’t closely connected to the scene would love My City too. My City brings a large, intense experience down to an affordable accessible package.