Motor City Preview

Motor City Preview

Roll and write games are much deeper than they were just 4 or 5 years ago. Much of this is due in part to the crew at Motor City Gameworks who are behind excellent games like Fleet the Dice Game and Three Sisters. For their third game in the “Loaded Roll and Write” series, this team is taking us to the car manufacturing world with Motor City.

Car Manufacturing 101

Players take charge of a car assembly plant in the city of Detroit. Using two sheets, players are going to research, engineer, test, run production and sell their cars. The centerpiece of the game is the blueprint board where every round starts. The active player rolls the dice and places them on the board in the appropriate spots. Players will draft 2 dice from the board and take the actions on their sheets. A single die will be left for every player to take during the round.

Motor City dice drafting

When you draft a die, you’ll gain the bonus under the die on the blueprint board. Players then chose one of three actions:

  • take a blueprint action from the top of the column
  • upgrade an associated action
  • fill in a research block.

Motor City gives players lots of options to ponder. With half a dozen areas on the player sheets, it’s really fun to explore all the options available.

Motor City blueprint board

The Production Path

Something that Motor City does really well is with the distribution of the various special items that you’ll find on the player sheets. Shipping crate and tire symbols are all color coded and labeled using letters. They’ll appear in the Engineering department as well as the Test Track. The game pushes players to invest in lots of different areas but ultimately you can’t afford to spread yourself too thin.

Motor City production line

When investing dice in the Production area, you’ll need to not only reach the bonuses on the line, but also spend TPS reports and find special symbols to get the payout. It feels nearly impossible to gather everything in the Production area and I like this. The game forces me to make a b-line to the items I feel are most important. Instead of trying to attack this as a completionist, I can try a different strategy each time.

Speed & Cash

The Speedometer section of the player sheets are something players are always watching. When a player takes the die (or gains a bonus) associated with the Speedometer icon, they’ll fill in a circle. Gaining speed quickly can be a big advantage since players gain the points on their Speedometer at the end of each of the 8 rounds in the game.

Motor City speedometer

You also want to add to your Sales track which gives bonuses at 5 dollar increments. Players will spend these dollars to ignore the “audit die”, upgrade the 4 main actions and purchase another vehicle for the Test Track. Unspent dollars are worth victory points at the end of the game for every 5 dollars earned.

Motor City sales

What’s the “audit die” you say? Well this little red die pops up at the end of round 1. The die will restrict 1 of the 4 main actions that you can take on your player sheet when drafting a die. The auditor can be a nuisance, putting a wrinkle in that perfect plan you had for the next round.

Kicking the Tires

Honestly, I can write for another hour about other items on the board and how you can trigger bonuses throughout the game. Motor City is exactly what you have come to expect from the team that’s brought you so many great games in the past. This is a meaty roll and write that is built for gamers to enjoy.

Motor City test track

There are so many decisions each round and paths that players can investigate. I personally don’t connect with the car theme as much as I connected with the gardening theme of Three Sisters, but that hasn’t had any impact on how solid this game plays. Once you get a handle on the iconography, the game is so smooth. You can tell a lot of care was put into balancing and testing every bonus and icon location on the player sheets.

The team at Motor City Gameworks has created an excellent roll and write that makes you feel like you’re in the thick of the Detroit car industry in its heyday. Each time we finish a game, I go through in my head thinking of what I will do differently next time. Motor City gives you so much to work with just from the choice of a single die on your turn.

Motor City launches on Kickstarter on March 8, 2022. Jump into this campaign early and don’t let this game speed away.

A prototype of the game was provided for this coverage. Components and rules covered in this preview are not finalized. Read more about our preview policies at One Board Family.

Ryan Gutowski

I'm a huge fan of strategy games and pretty much anything that involves "city building". My love of board games goes back to my childhood and passion for building relationships with others.

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