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Subject: Great game, even if I wasn't a fan of the theme rss

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Stuart Dunn
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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 Mottainai. Mottainai 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.

Setup
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.

Review
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.
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Simon Maynard
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I have the "mini" edition that only has one deck and therefore only plays up to three. However, I can't imagine how it would play with four or five. I would expect the down time to start to become problematic for one thing.
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Tor Sverre Lund
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Fried Egg wrote:
I have the "mini" edition that only has one deck and therefore only plays up to three. However, I can't imagine how it would play with four or five. I would expect the down time to start to become problematic for one thing.


Yeah, I got "burned" on this one in a trade, where I thought I got the double deck one. But after playing it, I really enjoy it with 2-3. Also enjoy that there's only one of each specific item. Glory to Rome seems a better fit for 4, as you're more involved on other people's turns.
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Karl Fast
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The consensus I've heard from people I know who play this a lot is basically:

If you have 2p, play Mottainai

If you have 3p, play Mottainai but GtR is also good with 3p

If you have 4-5p, play GtR instead

Assuming, of course, that you have a copy of GtR and that is an option.

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Nicola Bocchetta
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Theme? What theme?
 
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Phil Franklin
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The theme is very clearly there. What it lacks is any kind of integration with the gameplay.
 
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David Forby
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I disagree. The theme of nothing is wasted is there in the economy of the cards but I do see what you mean.

I talked to one person who said, "A Buddhist Temple selling things and encouraging attachment to things? They don't understand the Buddhist Religion." and was totally turned off on the materialistic aspect of it.

Now, I can't substantiate this because I am not a Buddhist and haven't studied the religion, a quick search on the internet doesn't seem to substantiate the belief that a Buddhist shouldn't care about material goods. So, not sure but on to a different point:

Mottainai is a Japanese term conveying a sense of regret concerning waste. The expression "Mottainai!" can be uttered alone as an exclamation when something useful, such as food or time, is wasted, meaning roughly "what a waste!" or "Don't waste."

So according to the name of the game it is about not wasting things. The fact that the cards are so versatile and many of the powers on the cards are about shifting them around to be used again does lend to this.

So there we have a theme, wrapped up into the concept of a Buddhist Temple trying to survive through tourism and artwork. While, I probably would not have specified Buddhist and simply said, "Eastern Religion Temple" to give it more ambiguity the game still remains.

I have yet to play this extensively, only a few games. I can see it does have a bit of a steep learning curve, it takes a while to teach the game and for people to "Grok" it and then to implement this. I still think that this is a good game and want to employ some of the techniques of economy into some game design that I will be doing in the future.
 
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John Kanost
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karlfast wrote:
The consensus I've heard from people I know who play this a lot is basically:

If you have 2p, play Mottainai

If you have 3p, play Mottainai but GtR is also good with 3p

If you have 4-5p, play GtR instead

Assuming, of course, that you have a copy of GtR and that is an option.



Or, if you have the Deluxe Mottainai and have 4-5 players, split into two groups and play two games simultaneously.

I do have the Deluxe, and have found that this is the way to go. I did not enjoy the 4-5 player game with the combined deck nearly as much as the 2-3 player game. At 2-3 the game shines; at 4 and 5 it feels like a poor Glory to Rome substitute for me.
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Michael Gonzalez
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Dismas wrote:
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 Mottainai. Mottainai 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.

Setup
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.

Review
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.


Thanks for the review! I, too, am turned off by the theme. How much in your face is the Buddhist/praying/etc stuff?
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David Forby
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I would say that the Buddhist/Praying isn't really present much. Praying is just another word for gaining more cards and more choices.

The "Day" goes through the cycle of a turn. This could easily be an art studio management situation. You are primarily making artworks (yes they have an eastern bent) and managing helpers and sales. This kinda goes against some of the idealism of Buddhist philosophy where material possessions are concerned but no matter.

The People are: Clerk, Monk, Smith, Tailor, Potter.
Matching materials: Paper, Stone, Metal, Cloth, Clay.
With the exception of the Monk, does this sound all that Buddhist?

Clerk: Move materials from you craft bench to sails or craft paper.
Monk: Gain a Helper (an extra task by the helper type when it comes up)
Smith: Create a Metal Artwork (Craft) or complete any artwork from your hand.
Tailor: Get rid of cards and gain up to 5 for next turn or craft a Cloth Item.
Clay: Take a material from the group pool (think go fish but everyone can see it) and put it in your craft bench or craft Clay.

Alternatively any action can be "Pray" which is simply putting a card in your waiting area for next round, more choices that is.

The object is to create the artworks and put materials in your sales area to give you extra points. Each card has a unique power that help you. The power or ability on an artwork that you completed may or may not be useful But ultimately it is meant to give you more points.

Each type of artwork is different points and are correspondingly harder to make.

That is it. Not much in your face on the spiritualism or religion other than the core concept of the game: Economy, non-wastefulness. By this concept, each card has 4 different uses: Material, Task, Points, Special ability and when you get rid of a card (need to discard it) you place it at the bottom of the pile. Game is over when someone makes 5 works of art in one wing/area (there are 2 possible) OR if you run out of cards. I have found that in a 3 player game it is possible to run out of cards and likely about 4 artworks in.

I like the game although I have found in explaining it twice that it does have a higher learning curve and although it is over quicker than most games there can be lots of thinking involved, so not a light game for when you are tired or have some alcohol in you or have distractions abound.

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Matt Ramsey

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Mentat1231 wrote:


Thanks for the review! I, too, am turned off by the theme. How much in your face is the Buddhist/praying/etc stuff?


depending on the group I am with I won't refer to drawing a card as "praying" and sometimes I'll leave out the Statue (looks like a budda maybe?) card (I don't find it that useful anyway).

That completely takes out any "spiritual aspects" of the game--which are minimal/barely there in any case.
 
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