Manfred Von Freedman was dead. He was lying, face down at the bottom of his empty swimming pool. Was it an accident? Was he pushed to his death? Or did something else, completely obscure, cause this wealthy gent to meet an untimely end?
I have him, only moments before, wandering into his mansion’s garden, swaying side to side, with a pensive look on his face. I follow his footsteps back, unsure they seem, as though he has had his fill of his favourite tipple.
But what’s this! Here he seems okay, walking, back ramrod straight, alongside the park, something is amiss. I move forward along the timeline again, to see where the change takes place. Ah! Here it is. A wince on his face and a hand to the back of his head, what is it that’s bothered him? Looking around the area I notice a pipe protruding from a nearby bush, what’s this, I ask myself.
Back in time, I find a small, weaselly looking man moving from bush to bush, following Manfred’s route alongside the park. Further back, he’s in a shop, buying what appears to be some kind of poison. Further still, and here he is looking angry, stomping along the roadside, where did he come from. Yes, the big, expensive business suite, and there he is in the window arguing with someone, Manfred Von Freedman in fact. There we go, a motive. He argues with Manfred, obviously coming off the worst, and storms down the street intent on revenge. He buys some poison and somehow obtains a blowpipe, not sure on that bit yet, but he then follows Manfred and strikes from his hiding place in a bush. Manfred winces as the dart strikes him and starts to feel the effects of the poison. He manages to get home but stumbles into his empty swimming pool and there, he meets his end!
- Designer: Johannes Sich
- Publisher: Spielwiese
- Year Released: 2020
- Players: 1-4
- Playing Time: 15-45 minutes
- Ages: 12+
- Recommended Retail Price: £25.99
MicroMacro Crime City, an entire world, caught in fragments of time, and displayed on a large map just waiting for its secrets to be revealed.
Without giving too much away, let’s take a closer look at this den of iniquity…
What’s in the Box?
- 110x75cm City map
- 120 Cards
- 16 Envelopes
- 1 Magnifying glass
- Rule book
Simplicity is a wonderful thing, especially when the end result produces such a wonderful way for a family to have some fun.
It doesn’t come much simpler than MicroMacro Crime City. A single map, 120 cards split into 16 individual cases, and a magnifying glass. Each case is packed into its very own envelop and varies in the number of cards. The cases are graded one to five stars in terms of difficulty. You choose your case and read the top, ‘start’ card, which introduces the main character and gives an overview of the case. After reading this aloud and showing the pictures to the other players, the top of the second card is revealed and read aloud. This is the first task and usually runs along the lines of ‘Find the…’ At this point, you move to the map and find the scene mentioned – an idea of where to look is usually given on the rear of the start card.
Let’s take the tutorial case for reference. Fernando was on his way to the pub when he found his hat had gone missing. “The pub is located in the east of the city, between Neptune Park and the hardware store.” The top of card two simply asks you to ‘Find the pub!’
Armed with this information, you know roughly where to start looking on the map and it should be no time at all until you’ve located Fernando standing, hatless, outside his local. You can now flip card two over and see if you are right. If you are, then the image on the card will be the same as the one to which you were referring to, there will also be grid coordinates to help locate the area if you were wrong. There will often be a further piece of information here too, for example the tutorial mentions that Fernando had his hat on when he was at the sausage stand.
You then reveal the top of the next card and do what it asks, which usually involves retracing the steps of the main character, victim, or perpetrator of the crime, and in this case, it asks you to find the sausage stand. This is the fun bit. The city is full of individual moments in time, all a little of the different character’s history, and they can get up to some right sneaky things, such as jumping into cars, on buses, even taking the train, so you need to be sure you don’t miss anything, and, of course, you can make your own story up as you go, putting words in to their mouths and generally having a good laugh! With this one, you find Fernando at the sausage stand, a la hat, and follow his journey to the pub. Along the way you just might find out what happened to his hat!
You’ll continue this process of revealing a card, finding the scene, and tracing suspicious persons around the map to answer the questions and solve the case… simples!
It’s a really easy concept to grasp and as you progress through the cases, they become tougher and more involving, but the beauty of it is that the answers are always right in front of your face, you just have to find them!
So, what are my thoughts of MicroMacro Crime City?
Well, the thing that really makes this game shine, is the map. Its packed full of cute little characters, cute enough to appeal to the younger members of the family and yet not so cute as to upset the more seriously minded. A great deal of attention has been paid to their expressions, whether it’s the lad sporting a vest and what appears to be a Mohican, running along with a tear in his eye, or the monkey blowing out some melancholy tunes from his sax, they all manage to convey an emotion, something that shows how they fit with their surroundings – it’s all too easy to get distracted from the case at hand and go off on a tangent of your own making, and that’s all part of the fun.
The cases do get more convoluted, but we found them all relatively easy to solve, they just took a little longer as we progressed through them, and if we did ever find ourselves stumped, we knew the answer was there, we just must have missed it and so retraced our steps, looking at things a little closer this time. I found it quite entertaining following the exploits of the characters around the map, a little like a detective piecing the story together bit by bit as new evidence appears. A lot of the characters are just going about their daily business, buying things from shops, out for a walk, earning a living, but you’ll notice many more that are most definitely up to no good and as I said, it’s very easy to get side-tracked and explore something else entirely. Indeed, there are mysteries to solve that aren’t included in the 16 cases and so there’s plenty of content here to keep you happy for some time, even after you’ve cracked the included 16.
It’s a great family game, and despite the box giving it a 12+ you’ll be able to involve those of a much younger age, though some might just want to colour in the map though! if you divide the map up, a sector for each player, everyone will feel valued and have some part to play and it won’t leave anyone scratching their head or feeling dumb because they don’t understand the rules.
Four players are probably the maximum you’d want, as it can become a bit of a squash when everyone wants to peer at the same scene all at once, though there’s no reason why you couldn’t involve more. I played a few solo and found it a different experience. Rather than sticking solely to the case at hand, I had more freedom to explore other things without feeling like I was holding everyone else up, but I have to admit, I did enjoy it most playing with the family and that’s how I would recommend the game, as a family game, one that’s best enjoyed with young and old, gamers and non-gamers – it’s simple, uncomplicated, fun!
Players: Best with three or four family members or good friends, young and old.
Playing Time: It’s quick, if you keep on track and don’t go off at a tangent that is. the time on the box is about right… for a change!
Age: If they like looking at books, and are particularly good at Where’s Wally? Get ’em involved.
Expansions: There are the odd print and play cases knocking around, as well as a couple of magazine freebies out there. There’s also a follow up, Crime City 2 – Full House.
Expect to Pay: Around £20 (at time of writing on Zatu)
Official site: MicroMacro-Game
Recommended video review: Shut Up and Sit Down
BoardGameGeek page: Here