In designing MicroMacro: Crime City, Johannes Sich has come up with a novel board game idea, yet it's one that many will find eerily familiar. We've surely all spent a few happy hours searching for Wally (Waldo if you live in the USA) in colourful books where the eponymous hero is hidden in plain sight within a busy morass of activity. MicroMacro clearly follows in the Where's Wally? tradition, but how does that make it a game? And, what's more, a game that has won the coveted Spiel des Jahres critics' award as the Game of the Year?
Publishers Pegasus Spiele have eschewed the garish colour of the 'find me' children's books. MicroMacro: Crime City is played on a black & white map sheet. And what a map! It's a massive 110 x 75 cm. It's a paper sheet, so you'll need a large solid surface to open it out onto and to keep it flat. It portrays a bustling city but it isn't a mere two-dimensional rendition. The map for this game reaches out into the fourth dimension: it incorporates events happening over time. That means you can identify a character and trace the journey they have taken leading up to that moment. And therein lies the game. Players are offered a series of 16 criminal cases to solve, from the petty to the macabre and scaled in difficulty and length. The cards indicate what players need to find on the map in order to kick off and pursue their search as they try to solve the crimes. Just be careful not to peek at the answers/spoilers on the reverse of each card. The game comes with little envelopes in which to keep the case cards but these aren't completely opaque.
MicroMacro: Crime City is a well-deserved award winner because it delivers hours of fun. It's notionally a 1-4 player co-operative game but it's probably at it's best with two: enough to discuss ideas and chuckle together over the intricate details hidden within the massive drawing but not so many that you'll be bumping heads when you're all looking at the same spot.
Children will get a kick out of playing this game, and it's certainly one where children and adults can play together, tho' the rules include a warning that some of the cases include themes and even some representations that parents may well consider unsuitable for children. The rules code the cases with a symbol to indicate where they include adult themes, tho' of course playing with only the casual misdemeanours won't shield children from accidentally spying corpses from other cases as they scour the map.
Ageing family members may not have the keen eyesight demanded by MicroMacro: Crime City, but the publishers have included a fresnel lens magnifier as a helpful tool for those with less acute vision.
Our one gripe is that the folded paper map is bound to get worn over the course of play, so treat it with care. And by the time you've solved all the cases in Crime City, Pegasus Spiele will have released the standalone sequel follow-up game...