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MicroMacro: Crime City

MicroMacro: Crime City is a Where’s Waldo­-style board game, in which players are searching for clues across a city map in order to solve mysteries.

A cooperative deductive game, published by Edition Spielwiese and Pegasus Spiele, set up takes less than a minute as you spread out the map and select your case.

Gameplay

The game comes with a large city map. The map is black and white and shows many scenes happening all throughout the city at various points in time. Because it is not all happening at the same time, you can trace a story from its start to finish across the city. For a made up example: you might see someone buying flowers at one location, then find him walking down the street with them a little further on, and finally trace him to a park bench where he gives them to his girlfriend.

There are sixteen different cases included with the game, which come in a varying level of difficulty. Each case consists of a number of cards. One player is made the lead investigator. To start a case, the lead investigator takes the case cards and reads the first card. The case card shows a picture of the main character in the case, sets the scene, and often gives you an idea of where to start looking. Each subsequent card has a question. You are supposed to work through the questions in order. To answer each question, you must find a particular image on the map. When you think you’ve found it, the lead investigator flips over the card and sees if the team’s answer was right. If it was, you may move onto the next question card. If not, the lead investigator says the answer was incorrect and the other players continue searching. As the card shows you the correct answer, the lead investigator cannot continue to assist at this point, until the team has moved on to the next question.

Questions might include things such as ‘where is the body?’, ‘who killed him?’, ‘why did the murderer kill him?’, or ‘where did the murderer get the weapon?’. Even if you have a general idea of the story, and a good guess as to the answer of the question, the team must find an image on the map to back up their answer. Answer all the questions and you have solved the case!

There is also an advanced variant in which players only look at the first card of the case, and then attempt to piece the story together without the help of each question card prompting them towards what they’re looking for. Once you think you have pieced together the whole story, you then look at the questions and attempt to answer them.

MicroMacro: Crime City Components

Review

MicroMacro: Crime City is a unique twist on the detective board game genre. It focuses on very different mechanics than you’ll find in other mystery games. You are still searching for clues and can discuss theories, which will in turn guide you towards what you should be looking for, but there is very minimum reading. It’s all about the picture search and trying to track down the different characters involved in each crime across different points of time.

One fun side effect of the game is the way you slowly begin to become familiar with the city. You start to learn where things are, such as the metro stations and where they come out. Also, as you search for scenes for the case you’re working on, you’ll catch glimpses of other crimes. These don’t spoil future cases so much as feeling like callbacks later when they become important, and it’s actually rather satisfying when you remember an element you spotted earlier.

While the early cases are good for showing you exactly how the game works, we very quickly found the advanced variant more fun as you attempt to put the case together without the help of the case cards — while the case cards serve as a good fallback if you get stuck.

The map is the game’s main component and its great quality. The artwork is quite fun and well done. It’s clear and easy to make out. The characters that fill the city are creative and come in a large range from humans to anthropomorphized animals. Given the size of the map, and the fact that you are often examining one general area of it, the game is best with one-to-two players, with three as the maximum we would recommend.

Stories are clever and the cases creative. The game does come with a magnifier for small details. We never found it strictly necessary to use and it’s the only thing in the game that is not very well made. We also wished there was a way, either through a website or an app, to check your answers without spoilers for the lead investigator. In general, you do know when you have found the correct answer, but it is still possible to make mistakes. We liked that you didn’t need anything digital to play the game, but the option would have been nice.

No case in MicroMacro: Crime City is too long. It’s an easy game to dip into. You just have to lay out the map and go. It’s fast to teach and quite satisfying. It’s a great addition to the detective game genre and a quite original game, and was a pure delight to play.

Pros: Fantastic artwork on the map, enjoyable to get to know the city, unique approach to detective games

Cons: No way to confirm answers without spoiling it for one player, magnifier component isn’t great quality