Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mottainai (Asmadi Games)

Carl Chudyk is a game designer who created one of the most popular games of all time - Glory to Rome. This game popularized the mechanic of cards with multiple uses. Unfortunately, the game is out of print and very expensive to obtain currently. Luckily, Mr. Chudyk developed another game called MottainaiMottainai means "Don't waste," or "Every little thing has a soul." The game is considered to be the "spiritual successor" to Glory to Rome in that it too uses the mechanic of multi-use cards. The game plays 2-5 players, age 13+. It  is available on Amazon for $18 and takes approximately 30 minutes to play.

1. Give each player a Temple Mat. On your temple, there are four places to use cards - Helpers, Task, Sales, and Craft Bench. Completed Works will go next to your temple in either the Gallery or the Gift Shop. (Note: The Gallery will assist your Helpers, and the Gift Shop will assist your Sales.)
2. Shuffle the deck of cards and deal five cards to each player to form their hand.
3. Deal one face-down card into each Temple's task slot.
4. First player is determined by each player drawing the top card from the deck. The earliest alphabetical card goes first.
Game Play - Your turn is divided into three parts. You take a complete turn and then play passes clockwise.
A. Morning:
1. Discard down to five cards in your hand.
2. Perform any "in the morning" effects on completed works.
3. Discard the card in your Temple's task slot to the floor.
4. You may place a new task in your Temple's task slot or take a player action later.
B. Noon:
1. Perform each opponent's task, going clockwise from yourself.
2. Perform your task. If you don't have a task, take a prayer action (drawing a card).
C. Night:
1. Perform any "at night" effects on completed works.
2. Draw the card in your waiting area into your hand.

The game ends one of two ways - 1 . A player builds a fifth work in one wing of their Temple or 2. The last card is drawn from the deck. Your score is tabulated as follows - 1. The value of your works in Gift Shop and Gallery. 2. The value of covered sales. 3. Backorders 4. Points given by card effects on completed works.

Mottainai is a game of subtle brilliance, so subtle in fact, that I would argue that you won't notice how brilliant the game is until multiple times playing through it. The first time you play it, it will take you a bit longer than normal to play the game, because you are trying to understand the rules and best explain them to others. I like that the game is quick and plays up to five players, because I generally play with five total and it's not always easy to find a game to accommodate that amount. The fact that it is quick means that we could play it several times in one night to get a better feel for it. I unfortunately have never had the opportunity to play Glory to Rome, so I can't make a head-to-head comparison, but maybe one day.

What I really like in the game is the the replay value, because I don't want to just have a game played once and then collect dust on my shelf. With the cards being multi-use, you will see different ones at different times and use them in different ways depending on the situation and stage of the game. Therefore, each game you adapt your strategy to maximize your turns and points. The only thing I don't like about this game is the theme. I can get into a lot of themes (zombies and Cthulhu excluded), but playing as a Buddhist monk was a bit strange to me. Other than that, it is a solid game and one that has an expansion coming out this year, so if you like this game, be on the lookout for Mottainai: Wutai Mountain.

This game was provided to me for free by Asmadi Games in exchange for an honest review.