MicroMacro – Crime City
- Designer: Johannes Sich
- Publisher: Pegasus Spiele
- Players: 1-4
- Age: 8+
- Time: 15-30 minutes per case
- Played with review copy provided by Pegasus Spiele and Edition Spielwiese
Welcome to Crime City, a city where crime lurks around every corner. Disastrous secrets, devious robberies and cold-blooded murders are the order of the day here. The local police are no longer able to control the situation. Therefore, the work of clever investigators is required. MicroMacro – Crime City is a cooperative detective game. Together, the players solve 16 tricky criminal cases by determining motives, finding evidence and convicting the perpetrators. An attentive eye is just as important as a deductive talent in order to unravel everything riddle on the 75 x 110 cm large game board. A magnifying glass is included in the game to help with finding every detail.
In this inventive game, the board is a paper fold-out map that takes up most of your table. It is a black and white line drawing affair with plenty of detail. Depicted on the map is a snapshot of life in Crime City – you can see the people, buildings, vehicles, etc all drawn out in fine detail.
Other than the map, you get 2 sealed decks of cards – and before you play, your job is to split up the cards into the 16 cases, and slip the cards into wax paper envelopes to keep them separated and secret. The first card of each case is black in color, so it makes it easy to find it as you separate the cards. There is also a plastic magnifying glass that you can use to see things closer. I have personally given up on this, and instead, I use the zoom function of my camera phone which I find does a better job to help me see things – but of course, YMMV.
So, as the rules go – you start by opening up a case envelope and reading the first card (the one with the black background). You get a little bit of background information on the case, and then you move onto the next card. The front of the next card will tell you the first thing that you are looking for – giving you some clues where to look…. I.e. in the southwest corner of the city, near the water, close to city hall, etc. You scan the map and try to find whatever the card is sending you to look at. When you think you have found it, you flip over the card where you will see the target illustration (often with map coordinates) so you can confirm that you found the right thing. Then… off to the next card, and back to the map. When you have completed all of the cards, you’ll have unraveled the mystery and now you know how/why/where the crime was committed. Time to repack the cards into the wax paper envelope and off to the next case!
The rules do suggest a variant – once you are familiar with the format of the cases, expert solvers are challenged to try to read only the first introductory card, and then only using their observational skills to completely reconstruct the case using the map alone and NOT reading the other cards. This approach clearly raises the level of difficulty, and we found this approach much more appealing to keep us interested. When you think you have completed the case (or when you get stuck), you can refer to the cards more as hints to see how far you’ve gotten on your own, and then resuming the search with the additional information as needed from the cards.
I’d definitely recommend playing the first 2-3 cases “by the rules” if nothing else to show you what sorts of tricks they use to clue in the story; it would be brutally difficult to try to do it on your own without some guidance on what to look for!
The cases are organized in ascending order of difficulty – ratings from one to five stars. The introductory, one star and two star cases are ridiculously easy. And I just wanted to mention this fact so that you don’t get discouraged or give up on the game because of it. Those cases are easy, but again, I think that they serve a useful role in teaching you how the game works and what tricks the designer has employed to tell you a story using only a static 2d black and white drawing. The later cases are much more complex and involved, but they would be hard to do well without these easier building blocks.
Using the cards, most of the cases have taken no more than 10 minutes. We have spent a bit longer with the cases where we look on our own, because sometimes you can’t follow the path right from the scene of the crime (Yeah… the Underground is a big player here…) Either way, it’s been a very enjoyable pastime, and a nice way to spend some time together (or alone!) entertaining yourself.
The artwork is amazing, and the amount of detail crammed into the map is astounding. There is so much going on in the city, and I’ve honestly enjoyed just scanning the image and trying to construct stories based on the art that I’ve seen. It might also be an interesting project to color in the map… but, for now, I’ll wait for a super duper rainy day before starting that mammoth job.
The game can be played by multiple players, but I think 2 to 3 would be the max for me. Many of the clues direct you to a certain quadrant of the map, and to some degree, there are only so many heads you can get around a particular corner of the map. Furthermore, in these coronavirus times, unless you’re all in the same family, it’s pretty hard to keep socially distant when trying to examine the super detailed but fairly small illustrations on the map!
The whole box probably has provided me with 4 or 5 hours of fun, and now it’s being passed around the family as we did some cases together and I did some alone. For the low MSRP – that’s a lot of entertainment packed in the box. Sadly, I am not sure there is any chance for expansion because all the art is already drawn. If there were new cases, you’d probably need a new map to look for new clues. But if that time comes, I’ll definitely be in line for that edition too!
[Editor’s note – our crack newsguy, W. Eric Martin has told me the following:
“ Four additional cases are available online: https://www.micromacro-game.com/en/extracontent.html More MicroMacro will be coming! It’s been a big success, and Edition Spielwiese has many plans for future releases, including a kids’ version that will likely have 100% fewer dead bodies and exposed breasts.”]
To find more details, check out the rulebook on https://pegasusshop.de/media/pdf/44/a7/18/4250231728082_en.pdf and play the digital demo case on the game’s website.
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers
Simon W: I have played 5 games of this with my wife with varying degrees of difficulty. We had a lot of fun with it but I do agree that 3 people would be a max number of heads to get round the table (or the floor: the map is quite big). Some of the mysteries definitely require a few leaps to solve and I really thought they were pretty clever. A solid game or pastime, depending on your definition.
Jeff Allers: Very clever mix of Where’s Waldo and Sherlock Holmes Criminal Cabinet. It’s not really my cup of tea, but I have a lot of fun introducing the game for others to play (my German students love it, since that is the language version I have). I mounted the game on foam core board (with pockets for the case envelopes) and hung it on a wall in our game room. Now, anyone can play a case whenever they wish!
James Nathan: I love it! For me it’s a max 1-player game, but I had a lovely time working through all the cases. As Dale said, some of the easier cases are good training wheels, but eventually, I only looked at the first card and then tried to work the case as far backwards and forwards as I can, and that’s where the real rewarding experience comes in. Some of the “detective” style games that include extensive reading are, well, not for me, as I don’t enjoy the language bit as much. Here, the core idea of “whose crime is this crime?” is distilled down to its simplest form, and I love the more elegant take. A side effect of the pictorial vs narrative take are the sideways glances you get at the other crimes – you may be trying to track down the woman that did this crime over here, and see some other stabbing happening in an alley, or someone making off with some loot over there. During the first case, I feared these were spoilers, but these were more foreshadowing – it felt rewarding, like there was a certain payoff that I can’t quite put my finger on, to finally get to the case where you can let yourself focus on that sidetrack as it is now your day job and not a distraction to the workload from last week.
There’s a certain style of humor to some of the cases that I enjoyed as well. Also, how is there so much crime in this one city! I could wax all day about what a treat this game is.
Oh, and while we’re linking things, I wanted to share this interview with one of the designers that Mikko posted on BGG:
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it! Dale Y, Eric M, Simon W, James Nathan
- I like it. Jeff Allers
- Not for me…