The entire structure moves at a slow pace, like an iceberg, but the ice is replaced with glass and concrete pieces. Unlike an iceberg, there is nothing underneath to catch an unexpected ship, except a cardboard tile and beneath that, the warm brown varnish of a dining room table. The finger controlling the move stutters slightly, as if the varnish underneath has an imperfection which is stopping the traversal to the final destination. Some things should be wiped up after dinner..
There is a slight wobble, as one of the asymmetrical pieces is no longer sure if it wants to be part of this tabletop journey. Doubt turns to fear, and the piece commits to leaving in a cascade, taking other pieces in the structure with it. A curse word sits on the lips of the owner of the finger, but the company across the table is likely to take uttered bad words to the person in the next room, and we do not want that happening. We do not want that happening.
Megacity Oceania from Hub Games demands you touch the components before you even pick up the rule book. It pretty much shouts at you to unpunch some of the hexagonal tiles out of the cardboard sheets, so that regardless of the colour and the building type that you are meant to be building, you can get to work grabbing random building pieces from the cloth bag. The aim is to have you commencing construction of your own imaginary super-stucture on the Gold Coast of Australia. What you have here is not a collection of rectangular regular dull bricks and straight pieces. This is not Lego with uniform sizes and form. These are the pieces that sat at the back of the class in brick school and spent their time passing notes, or finding treasure chewing gum under desks for later consumption. These are the pieces that thought 90 degrees wasn't cool. Unfortunately, these are the pieces that you use to build your structure. So with a mixture of coloured plastic pieces representing glass, concrete and steel, you set about playing and trying to build the most ridiculously huge structures. I dare you to do anything else.
Eventually you'll decide to pick up the rule book, and hope that the fun that you are having is not going to be hampered by the sentences you find within. Rules can be great, but too many can drown the spark of imagination, but thankfully the aim here is to use your creativity within the boundaries of rules. Contracts demand that you build upon certain colour of tile, and further set your requirements for materials or height. Others might ask to only use one type of material, or create a tunnel or courtyard. You pull shapes from the bag, hoping that you can use those that you pull out, though there is a chance to be more selective if you need to. Building the tallest building gains you prestige, and a cute little cardboard structure to remind everyone else around the table how magnificent you are. You take turns, but you never wait to take your turn, as you fiddle and faff with your latest creation in front of you before pushing it out into the flotilla in the centre of the table.
At the point where you decide to commit, everyone stops working on their own mega structure in a reverent silence, as with one finger you take that maiden voyage over the varnish, pushing gently, hoping that things simply won't collapse into disaster. For those times it happens, you go back to the drawing board, and attempt to rebuild, maybe without the flight of fancy that was sitting in your head, but with something more stable. Which of course you never do, because what's the point in making something, with these pieces, in this game, if what you are going to deliver is going to be ordinary? There isn't, stop it now, you know better. Even in disaster where a building falls after delivery, no one is penalised, because we were sure at the time that everything was total made to the correct standard, honest guv'nor. When you deliver, you can even add a monument to a park to show how amazing you are at this building lark. It's small points and little by little, rather than creating a run away winner. It all looks amazing. No matter how unartistic you consider yourself as a person, your structures will look in place with everything that surrounds them and no two games will ever be similar in terms of how the Megacity will turn out.
Once the standard contracts have been fulfilled you might decide to complete the final complicated landmark project before you go to final scoring. Then you'll be given more prestige based on having the most diverse range of buildings, or the tallest building, or who has built the trickiest building within that category of buildings. What should happen is that you congratulate your winner and then put the game away and play something else. What normally happens is that you continue to play, making bigger buildings, seeing who can make the tallest one, make buildings across hexagons, try to make things balance at silly angles. You'll forgot about the rules of the game and remember about the rules of fun instead, which is all about giving someone a pile of irregular pieces and tell them to just crack on.
There will be those that want more complication from Megacity, as the range of contracts on offer are limited to a couple of parameters, and this might leave some wishing there were more challenges to be had in such an unusual game. I would argue it's a framework on which to build on, and that one of the choices you are given when you play is to decide whether to go for the easy option for points, or the trickier way to let your inner architect out to play. It's entirely your choice. We've played with and without the rules, building towers and laughing at crumbling disasters for no more reason than because it gives us the choice to. And in that respect Megacity Oceania achieves exactly its intentions of play and dexterity based fun.
We were provided a copy of Megacity Oceania by Coiledspring Games www.coiledspring.co.uk
Rory O'Connor from Hub Games has guested on the podcast
We were not paid for this review