Game Buzz: Super Motherload

One of my favorite flash games I used to play was Motherload.  It’s a space mining game where you’re digging into the Martian soil, picking up minerals, selling them, upgrading your equipment, and digging down farther.  The deeper you get, the more valuable the minerals will be that you find.  You have to keep an eye on your fuel, as well as your capacity, and watch out for explosive pockets and long drops that will damage your hull.  Not a lot happens in the game, but I found it to be super addictive.  I’m apparently not the only one, since Matt Tolman has already made one game inspired by it (Undermining), and now has another:

image by BGG user RoosterJuice
image by BGG user RoosterJuice

Super Motherload is a game designed by Matt Tolman and Gavan Brown that is being released by their company, Roxley Games.  It’s a game for 2-4 players, and takes around 75 minutes to play.  This game is designed to follow the PC game Super Motherload, a sequel to the original, where you are a miner for the Solarus Corporation, trying to pick up the most valuable minerals before your opponents.

The game comes with 20 minor achievement cards, 10 major achievement cards, 4 player decks of 23 cards, 16 bomb tokens, 16 artifact tiles, 76 tunnel tiles, 80 double sided mineral tiles, and 4 double sided game boards.  In the beginning, you choose the Depth 1 game board (the player to the right of the start player chooses which side) and put it in the middle of the table.  Three major achievements are dealt, with the others removed from the game.  Three minor achievements are also dealt, but the remaining cards remain as a deck.  Each player gets a player deck, and removes the seven starting pilot cards to form their starting draw deck.  The remaining pilots are divided into four piles, with the least expensive on top and most expensive on bottom.  Everyone also gets a bomb token.  Draw four cards from your draw deck, and you’re ready to play.

On your turn, you can perform two actions.  There are three options: draw, drill, or bomb.  You can do a different action each time, or you can do the same action twice.

DRAW: Draw two cards from your draw deck, reshuffling your discard pile if your draw deck runs out.

DRILL: This is how you collect minerals and bonuses.  First, discard any number of cards from your hand that have the same color and show a drill icon.  You’ll then place tunnel tiles on the board with a total length that equals the number of drill icons played.  These tiles must connect edge-to-edge with another tunnel tile, or with the surface.  The tiles you place must be in a continuous straight line.  After they have been placed, collect minerals and bonuses from the covered up spaces.  Rock cannot be drilled, and steel plates only can be if the drill color matches the steel plate border.

BOMB: Spend a bomb token and discard a pilot with a bomb pattern.  You then place tunnel tiles in the exact shape of that pattern, collecting minerals and bonuses from all covered up spaces.  Steel plates cannot be bombed.

When you collect minerals, you place them on the topmost card of one of your pilot stacks.  If the value of the minerals ever equals or exceeds the pilot cost, you discard the minerals and take the card into your discard pile.  You do not receive change.  Some cards have buy bonuses that take effect immediately when you purchase them.  Others have drill bonuses.

You may also get bonuses from the board – bombs, artifacts, or the ability to draw more cards.

Major and minor achievements can be earned throughout the game, giving you a point boost at the end.  Major achievements are not replaced when earned, but minor achievements are.

When someone covers the last artifact space on the board, add the Depth 2 board.  When it happens again, add the Depth 3 board.  When it happens again, add Depth 4.  You’ll never have more than two boards out at a time, so when you reach 3, 1 disappears.  When you reach 4, you lose 2.  All tunnels on returned boards go back to the supply.  When the last artifact on 4 is covered, the game ends.  The player with the most VPs is declared the winner.

So, what do I think?  Well, to me this looks like an interesting route-building game that combines deck-building with tile placement.  I haven’t played the PC version of Super Motherload, but in comparison of to the original Motherload, this game has altered a lot of the upgrade aspects.  That was present in Undermining, but this one changes the upgrading to different pilots, and uses a deck-building mechanism to help you accomplish that.  It also drops the step of selling your goods, you just get the value applied to a pilot automatically.

This game definitely looks like it has solved the setup problem for Undermining – you had to put out a ton of tokens in the beginning with that one, and here, everything is preprinted on the board for collection.  Will that hurt replayability?  I doubt it.  There’s always new routes to build, and different people will pursue different strategies.  I think the game looks fun, and hope to get a chance to try it out when released.  Thanks for reading!

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