Game Buzz: Mottainai

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m kind of a Carl Chudyk fanboy.  Well, he’s got a new one funding on Kickstarter right now:

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Mottainai is a game that will be published by Asmadi Gamesm, designed by Carl Chudyk.  It’s a 2-5 player game that draws much of its inspiration from Chudyk’s 2005 game, Glory to Rome.  Mottainai is a Japanese word that means “don’t waste” and “every little thing has a soul.”  As I mentioned, the game is currently Kickstarting, and has well surpassed its $5,000 goal.

Mottainai comes with 1-2 decks of cards, depending on if you get the Mini or Deluxe version (a difference of $12 versus $20).  One deck is needed for 2-3 player games, two decks are needed for 4-5 player games.  There are also temple mats for each player.  (What?!? Mats in a Chudyk game?!?  Preposterous!!!)  At the start of the game, each player is dealt five cards.  Each player then draws a card and discards it to the center of the table, called The Floor.  The person whose card is closest alphabetically to A goes first.

Your turn has three phases: morning, noon, and night.  You’ll do all three before it is the next player’s turn.

In the MORNING, if you have more than five cards in hand, discard down to five.  Perform any “In the morning effects” on your works, then discard the task card you have from the previous turn (this stuff is, of course, skipped on the first turn as it does not apply).  The last thing you do in the morning is play a card in the task slot on your temple mat.  You can choose to skip this, in which case you’ll be taking a Prayer action later.

At NOON, you will then perform each task on an opponent’s temple mat in clockwise order from yourself, and finally perform your own task.  Here are the tasks, with references to the corresponding Glory to Rome terminology in parentheses:

  • Clerk: Take a card from your Craft Bench (stockpile) and add it to Sales (vault).  You need a matching type of Works to cover them, however – one paper work covers one paper sale, one stone work covers two stone sales, one cloth covers two cloth sales, one clay covers three clay sales, and one metal covers three metal sales.
  • Monk: Take a card from the Floor (pool) and add it to your Helpers (patrons).  These Helpers will give you an extra action during the matching Task.  Works can cover these Helpers, making them doubly effective.
  • Tailor: Return any number of cards from your hand, then draw enough cards so that your hand will be back up to five.  Drawn cards do NOT go to your hand, however – they go to your waiting area.
  • Potter: Take a card from the Floor and put it in your Craft Bench.
  • Smith: Complete a work (building) from your hand, using materials of the same type from your hand to support.  Unlike Glory to Rome, the materials you use are not spent – you just show that you have them.  Paper works just need the card itself, stone and cloth works need the card plus one from your hand, while clay and metal works need the card plus two more from your hand.

You can replace any action with a Craft action.  This is like the Smith task, but you use cards from your Craft Bench rather than your hand.  Again, you don’t spend them.  The card you craft must match the type of the card in your Task area.

You can also choose to take the Prayer action, either because you didn’t play a Task or because you want to do something different.  This allows you to just draw one card, again going to your waiting area.  You don’t get to do this if an opponent left their Task blank, you just skip them.

At NIGHT, you do any Night effects from your works, then finally pick up the cards from the Waiting Area.

The game ends when someone builds their fifth work, or when the last card is drawn from the deck.  You then add up your points – points from Works, and points from covered Sales.  You also get backorder points – the most sales of each type (covered or uncovered) gets the owner points from cards of that type left in your hand.  To explain that further, if you have the most metal sales, then you can score three points per metal card in your hand.  If you have the most paper sales, you score one point per paper card in your hand.  The player with the most points is the winner.

This is really a stripped down version of Glory to Rome that makes it more of a turn-based game than it was before.  Other players still get to do your tasks, but now it’s in more of an Impulse style – you get to do the actions of the other player, but instead of everyone doing them on the same turn you chose them, you wait until your turn.  So you always have to be mindful of how you’re helping others when you choose a task.

The game also seems much smaller.  This is partly because it is, but some work has obviously been done to make it into a tighter, quicker game.  This is evident from the card count as well as the limits on how long it goes.  It’s interesting that cards from your hand don’t have to be spent in order to build – that takes away one of the decisions from Glory to Rome, but adds its own unique spin on things.

Will this game replace Glory to Rome?  It may in some circles.  With GTR out of print right now, this may give people the same flavor in a different package.  And it may work well for people who want the feel of GTR in a shorter package.  It remains to be seen, and I’m looking forward to checking it out when it is released.  Check out the Kickstarter if you’re interested, and thanks for reading!

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