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Mottainai» Forums » General

Subject: Explaining how to play the game - Here is where to start... rss

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Pierce Ostrander
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Mottainai can be difficult for new players to grasp. Here is a suggested way to teach it.

First, Explain:

WHAT YOU CAN DO ON YOUR TURN (AVAILABLE ACTIONS)

You can do one of four things with each ACTION you have available:

1 Take a card from your Hand and Place it as a Completed Work. Your hand is the only* source of completed works;

2 Move a card from the Floor to your Helper or Craft Bench area. The floor is the only* source of Helpers and Materials for your Craft Bench;

3 Move a card from the Craft Bench to Sales;

4 Draw Cards to Replenish you hand.


SELECTING TASKS AND TAKING ACTIONS

After explaining these four things, physically demonstrate how to choose one of the 7 possible Tasks - by pulling a card and laying it down in your Task area. Start with the Smith and then explain how you can substitute Crafting (or Prayer) for any action (IMPORTANT: remember that you can only Craft a work from your hand that is of the same Card Color as the Task you are replacing. For Example a Metal work can only be completed when the Craft action is done in place of a Smith Task/Action).

1 State that there are two ways to accomplish Action Choice 1: The Smith and Crafting. Explain that completed works are a primary source of victory points. Introduce the concept of Card Value. Physically demonstrate both actions. Restate that this is the first of the four possible actions you can do.

2 State that there are two ways to accomplish Action Choice 2: The Monk and the Potter. Physically demonstrate both actions. Explain how helpers give you an extra action if it matches the Task you are performing.

3 Action Choice 3: Physically demonstrate how the Clerk moves a card from your Craft Bench to Sales. Explain how Sales are Covered and that they ONLY provide victory points when they are.

4 There are two ways to Accomplish Action Choice 4: Physically Demonstrate how the Tailor and Prayer replenish you hand. Note that cards are placed to the side and only enter your hand after your turn is completely done.


END OF GAME SCORING

Then explain the End of Game scoring. State that there are THREE ways to score points:

1 Completed Works on display in either the Gallery or the Gift Shop always score VP equal to their Value, because they provide “Glory” for you Temple.

2 "Covered" Sales in the Gift Shop represent Sales that are "in your area of (QUALITY of work) specialty" and therefore provide "Glory" for your temple. All other sales are simply trinkets that are not important (and earn no VP);

3 "Backorders" (Cards in hand at game end that match the card color for which you have the most Sales) represent POTENTIAL sales that are in an area of (SALES VOLUME) specialty. Because the represent items that you have a proven track record of being able to sell a large number of, they earn VP (trinkets or not, a potential flow of future sales is always good).

4 State that covered sales (and helpers) are an "all or nothing" proposition. Explain the limits on how much you can Cover with each completed work (their card value is the number of Sales or Helpers you can cover in a given wing) as how skilled you are in that specialty, and if helpers/sales exceed your skill value, you lose the bonuses because you don't have the skill yet to maintain it all. (thanks to Evan Kline (username: spaff_) for this addition).


CARD FLOW:

Restate that:

1 Completed Works can only* come from you Hand;

2 Helpers, Materials for you Craft Bench, and Sales can only* come from the "Floor" (the cards in the center of the table);

3 Cards on the Floor come only* from previously-played Tasks (except at the beginning of the game and the first round, when the Floor is seeded with random cards equal to twice the number of players); and

4 Replenishing you Hand is not automatic and you must spend actions to do it.


PHYSICALLY WALK THROUGH THE TURN SEQUENCE:

PREPARATION:

1. Place 3 or 4 random cards in the "Floor" area.

2. Put a face-up Task in both your "Task" Area and Your Opponent's "Task" Area.

3. Place a Helper Card in your own "Helper" Area (Covered by Completed Work in that Wing). Make sure that card matches your opponent's Task.

4. Take 7 or 8 cards into your hand.

DO THE WALK THROUGH:

1. Quickly Discard down to 5 Cards and move your "previous" Task to the Floor.

2. Choose a Task (recommend either Potter or Smith)

3. Perform your Opponent's Task - demonstrating how your matching Helper provides two additional "Actions" because it is "Covered". Demonstrate "Pray" with one or two of those actions. Explain the relationship between Tasks and Actions.

4. Perform your own Task.

5. Pick up the cards in your Waiting area and announce that the turn is complete.

Tell your opponent that you are going to do it very quickly to demonstrate the flow of a turn. Then, repeat it slowly and answer all questions. If it doesn't seem to be sinking in, do it again, except the second time give your opponent the 7 cards and let him walk through the turn.

6. Mention that you have the option to NOT choose a Task (and to Pray instead). Explain also that if your opponent's Task Area is empty (because she did not choose a card to play as a Task last turn) then you skip them (you do not get an action for that player).

TALK ABOUT THE TEXT ON COMPLETED WORKS

1 Read the text on one or two of the Cards. Explain that the text only becomes active when the card is converted to a completed work.

2 Make sure to state that once a card is played as a Task, or is on the Floor or is in the Helper, Craft Bench or Sales area, that the text is no longer relevant. Re-emphasize that Completed Works can only* be created out of your hand using either the Smith or Craft Task. Restated that the Craft Task can always be done in place of any other Task and is an important way to score Victory Points.


MORE ON CARD FLOW AND HOW TO GET STUFF YOU NEED:

Another fact that is important to communicate is that if you play a Task on a turn, then that task will be moved to the Floor at the beginning of your next turn. Therefore, any Task you play will be available to you, on the floor, to convert to a Helper or a Material on your Craft Bench BEFORE it will be available to the other player(s). i.e Any Task you play is something that you will get "first crack" at converting to something useful in your temple on your next turn.

Also emphasize that you reduce your hand size at the BEGINNING of your turn and that you do not receive cards from your waiting area to your hand until the END of your turn. Therefore if an opponent ends the game you may have more than 5 cards in your hand and if YOU end the game then the cards in your waiting area will not be in you hand (or counted as VP if they are Backorders).


A BETTER PLAYER MAT:

NOTE: I've created a Player Mat that makes the game much easier to play. It can be downloaded HERE:

boardgamegeek.com/filepage/126447


NOTE:

(This is not part of the explanation, but is included for completeness)

* Given the nature of the game the special abilities of Completed Works can probably break all of these rules, but at least for the first few turns the basic rules apply unchanged. I recommend that you not hedge the statement "ONLY" when you are talking about the Card Flow. The rules-breaking nature of the text on the completed works cards will become obvious as you play through your first game.
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Pierce Ostrander
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I've just finished revising this for completeness.

If I left out a major rule or have misunderstood a rule, please post a correction or addition and I'll add it in later.
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Gillum the Stoor
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The discussion in the parallel thread emphasizes that, at some point, your explanation needs to get into the details of how actions (or choices of actions) are derived from tasks - and when they can't be.

Beginning this with a direct quote from the rules wouldn't hurt:
Quote:
NOON
(1) Perform each opponent’s task, going clockwise from yourself. If an opponent has no task, skip that player.
(2) Perform your task. If you have no task, take one Prayer action instead.

It might not hurt also to clarify the distinction between tasks, action choices, and actions themselves. Tasks provide a set of action choices, and each of the latter usually affords a choice of 3 actions (the original plus Craft and Prayer).

I think that understanding this distinction is important to comprehending the general flow of the game - and the arcane details of how a few cards work. I tried introducing some new terminology for making this distinction; upon reflection, I think that my effort was overwrought, and I may try something simpler.
 
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Jamie Maltman
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gillum wrote:
The discussion in the parallel thread emphasizes that, at some point, your explanation needs to get into the details of how actions (or choices of actions) are derived from tasks - and when they can't be.

Beginning this with a direct quote from the rules wouldn't hurt:
Quote:
NOON
(1) Perform each opponent’s task, going clockwise from yourself. If an opponent has no task, skip that player.
(2) Perform your task. If you have no task, take one Prayer action instead.

It might not hurt also to clarify the distinction between tasks, action choices, and actions themselves. Tasks provide a set of action choices, and each of the latter usually affords a choice of 3 actions (the original plus Craft and Prayer).

I think that understanding this distinction is important to comprehending the general flow of the game - and the arcane details of how a few cards work. I tried introducing some new terminology for making this distinction; upon reflection, I think that my effort was overwrought, and I may try something simpler.


Mottainai is a game that just doesn't lend itself well to a written explanation. There's no substitute for a good walkthrough of all the options, showing the card draws and movements, in person or on Youtube.
 
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Pierce Ostrander
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MaltmanJ wrote:
Mottainai is a game that just doesn't lend itself well to a written explanation. There's no substitute for a good walkthrough of all the options, showing the card draws and movements, in person or on Youtube.


I Heartily Agree. Note that this teaching aid proposes just that.

My intent was to provide a tool for a person who knows the game to teach it to others. It is best used supplemented by the player aid I developed, which can be found HERE(Note: Rev 4 is now available).

This aid could be used to help learn the game (after reading the rulebook) - it is not designed to replace the rulebook, but to supplement it.


Some people prefer text to videos - I'm one of them. I rarely watch a video review or playthrough; Typically there is way too much "dead air" and time wasting.

I'm much more efficient reading, hence, this written aid. Once I get an adequate number of comments on this (correcting error and any other suggestions for improvement) I will upload it as a file for folks to print and use alongside the game.

 
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Simon Maynard
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I plan to take the following approach when I plan to teach it to someone in a few days.

I think it's important to start with the overall objective: Getting the most points.

How do I get points?

The Primary way to get points is by building works of art. There are two ways to build works of art, but they must always be supported by a matching number of cards (equal to the card's value minus 1):

1) Crafting - Build something in your hand (that matches the active task) as long as you have that number of matching cards in your craft bench. Craft actions can substitute for any other task specific action you are entitled to.

2) Smithery - Build something in your hand as long as you have that number of matching cards in your hand. Smith actions are specific to the Smith task.

How do I get cards in my craft bench?

A potter task allows you to take an item from the floor and add it to your craft bench. The cards on the floor are comprised of discarded tasks from previous turns.

What are tasks?

Each turn you may choose one task from your hand that enables a task specific action. You first get to use the tasks chosen by your opponents on their last turn and then yours. There are 6 different tasks.

What are works of art?

1) They are worth the number of points depicted by their face value at the end of the game.
2) Each work of art has a unique effect/bonus that is described on the card and is active once built.
3) Works of art are displayed either in your Gallery (to the left of your temple) or in your gift shop (to the right of your temple). Works of art on in your gallery may make your helpers more effective and those in your gift shop may make sales more effective (in addition to their face value for points).

What are helpers?

1) Helpers allow you to act multiple times for each (matching) task you use (yours or your opponents). 1 extra action per helper or 2 per covered helper.

2) Monk tasks allow you to take a card from the floor and add it to your helpers.

3) Helpers are covered by matching works of art in your gallery and they cover the number of helpers identified by their value.

What are sales?

1) Sales are cards that have been sold (moved from your craft bench to your sales area).

2) Clerk tasks allow you to sell cards (from your craft bench).

3) Sales are covered by matching works of art in your gift shop and they cover the number of sales identified by their value.

4) Sales are worth their face value in points at the end of the game if they are covered. If you have the most sales of that type (of all players) then you additionally score back orders (matching cards in your hand).

How do I get more cards in my hand?

You get more cards in your hand either by prayer or using the tailor.

1) A prayer can be substituted for any other action you are entitled to at any time.
2) The Tailor task allows you to return any number of cards from your hand and draw as many as you need to get up to 5.
3) Cards drawn this turn don't get into your hand right away and sit in your waiting area until the end of your turn (night time).
4) At the start of your turn (morning) you must discard as many cards as needed (of your choice) until you have no more than 5.

How does the game end?

The game ends immediately when five works have been placed in any single area (gallery or gift shop) by any single player, if the game doesn't end sooner by a player drawing the last card from the draw pile.
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Simon Maynard
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I would also recommend to new players not even thinking about the effects of the cards (as works of art) in the first game or two, not until they've been build anyway. Best waiting until you've got a solid grip on the basic mechanics of the game first.
 
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Simon Maynard
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Now having actually taught the game a few times I would whole heartedly recommend the following for the first game or two:

Just ignore completely the effects of the works. They only count as points as to cover sales/helpers accordingly. Any specific effect of the work itself is ignored.

This helps new players by allowing them to focus solely on the core mechanics and card flow. After they have wrapped their head around that, you can introduce the full effects. Seems like a neat way (to me anyway) to remove a layer of complexity from the game in a way that doesn't much upset the game balance.
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