The Game Baby
I am The Game Baby. I love games. Especially games with COINS, but even if a game doesn’t have COINS I still want to play it. I am always looking for new games to play and one day I will grow up and play all of them!
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Today I am doing my reviewing of Mottainai. It doesn’t have any COINS. Mommy and Daddy always get too excited about PEACE even though I like NOISE and Mottainai is about peace. Kind of. Or maybe it’s about the benefits of mountaintop capitalism. I don’t actually know what Mottainai is supposed to be about but maybe I will figure it out as I play more.
I'm not so sure about this.
Mottainai has two boxes and you have to choose if you are a poor baby and get the bad little box or a rich baby and get the good little box. There might be good little bad little pigs that are all-in-one solutions but Mottaini boxes aren’t like pigs at all.
Corduroy! Put Mottainai in that new pocket!
The bad little box is just a little box and it’s way better for just a Mommy and a Daddy because it fits in a pocket or a diaper bag but the lid comes off easily. The good little box is for more people to play and has bigger sides so the lid doesn’t come off, but since Mommies and Daddies aren’t allowed to leave the house or have friends you should probably get the bad little box if you have a Game Baby of your own. Both boxes are white and not that great so when your Game Baby uses them as building blocks they start to look dirty pretty quickly. That’s OK though because only what’s inside really matters!
The worst thing about Mottainai is that there are NO COINS. Nothing to punch out, nothing to sort, nothing to play with that doesn’t bend. Maybe Mommy likes that but I don’t! But if you are like Mommy then you will say GAME BABY! WE CAN LOOK AT THE CARDS AND THEN PLAY A FUN GAME! The cards are normal cards that are bendy in Game Baby hands. Somehow they look like the fancy cards made out of clothes with the criss-crossy lines but they don’t feel that way at all. The pictures on the cards are made for Game Babies because they are simple shapes and soft colors. I hope you are a Game Baby.
Have you seen a turtle card with a turtle before? I wouldn't have known what it was called if it wasn't for Mottainai.
There are some rules and they are not the best but not the worst, so maybe Mottainai gets a good little bad little pig after all. Inside the box are some big big cards that are supposed to be to help you when you play but they are bendy and have sharp corners and have all the right things you need to know in all the wrong places. Who would want to keep flipping over their helper card the whole game? I already reviewed Flip City and didn’t like it so don’t do this to me, Mottainai! Daddy printed a few different big cards and covered them in shiny laminaynen so now I can play with them and no one gets worried about bending or drooling.
Mix up all the cards! It’s so easy that I can help too! MIX MIX MIX and then everyone gets WON TWO TREE FORD FIVE cards. Hold them and don’t show anyone. They’re your SECRET! Then everyone gets one card that’s double-secret tucked under the top of their big card and ONE TOO THEE cards go on the floor in-between everyone. In the game the middle of everyone is called the floor so if you like to play games on the floor of the living room like I do then when you play Mottainai you get to put three cards on the floor on the floor.
Here's that big rectangle thing. It will tell you how to play.
The super-secret card you got at the start of the game isn’t a secret anymore! You flip it over and that’s what you do first. In Mottainai it really matters where on your big rectangle card you have the little cards. When they’re on top that’s what you do. Other people can copy you if they want but that top card says you have to do its thing or draw a card. Oh yeah, whenever you draw a card you don’t get to see it. That’s a super-secret card too until the end of your turn.
So at the top of your big rectangle is what you do that turn and where you put cards after you do that thing changes what the card does. You get a few choices:
• Tucked on the left side of your rectangle are your helpers. They let you do your top card another time as long as they’re matchers.
• On the bottom of your rectangle is your building stuff. It lets you build cards for points!
• Tucked on the right side of your rectangle are your matchers for points. You only get the points if you build things that aren’t tucked under the side.
• Out in the open on the left or right side are the things you build. These are also where you get points and if someone gets five then THE END, MOTTAINAI and everyone counts their points
You’re not allowed to have more than five cards in your hand at the end of your turn so when you have extra cards you discard to bottom of deck. Actually, whenever you get rid of card they go to the bottom of the deck. It doesn’t really matter in most games but it’s kind of exciting to hide cards down there and NO PEEKING.
I will not peek. I'm busy licking.
So that’s how you play Mottainai except for that it’s not because there are a whole bunch of little steps and funny words that don’t mean what you think they mean. It’s really easy to get confused about all those steps at first but after a few games they’re pretty easy and just playing the game tells you how to play the game. I PLAYED A BLUE CARD SO NOW LET’S ALL BUILD SOMETHING!
Most games go really, really fast. Sometimes too fast! But that’s good if you have to go poopy because you don’t have to wait too long. If you can’t wait at all, Mottainai isn’t so great because the game is confusing enough without walking away from the table and coming back and forgetting what you were trying to do. So hold your poopy if you can.
Cards are too yummy and that’s all there is to eat in Mottainai. But cards are too big to choke a Game Baby so at least there’s that. You can definitely play the game while you are eating but it’s not the easiest because you do have to hold cards and you pretty much want to look at them all the time. The game takes up some space on the table too. Not a lot, but enough that you will probably have to choose between having your plate full of melties and banana pieces in front of your or your Mottainai big rectangle.
You gotta know when to hold 'em.
You will never be bored. Never ever. Like I said, the turns go really fast but even more than that pretty much every time someone else has a turn you get to do something too. Even if you don’t want to copy them, you usually at least get to draw a card. I tried to fall asleep during a game of Mottainai once but it’s just too exciting!
Mottainai is the best. I haven’t played Glory to Rome because I wasn’t even born when it went out of print, but I have seen pictures of it on Daddy’s phone and it’s TOO UGLY so I don't care if old people say it's a better version of the same game. Mottainai is really just a deck of cards (you don’t need the big rectangles once you know how to play) and the pictures look like the little pictures on my jammies. The colors are nice and the cards are simple and the game is TOO FUN!
There are some bad things about Mottainai but not so bad that you should care. The rules are not so good. They use a lot of words that I thought meant other things, such as “pray” instead of “draw a card”. I know what “draw a card” means because ALMOST EVERY SINGLE CARD GAME HAS IT. I got confused at first because usually I only pray with Mommy or Daddy at bedtime or when my diaper overflows. Even if you know that words mean something different than what they mean the rules are still kind of confusing and in a strange order so it’s hard to look things up. I like the little pictures but if you’re not a baby you might want them to be different. There’s also a chance that whoever goes first will win. Maybe not, but I’ve played with a whole bunch of non-Game Babies and we started tracking who went first. So far about 75% of the time whoever went first also won, but then sometimes the loser tried to do something dumb like win by playing a lot of brown cards. Not all the colors are the same goodness.
HOWEVER… there’s way more good than bad. You really, really, really care what the other person is doing when you play Mottainai. There aren’t a whole lot of cards that do bad things to the other people, but half your game is trying to do things on the other person’s turn. It matters even more than in games like Race for the Galaxy or Eminent Domain. In fact, you can almost win a game of Mottainai just by choosing to do things that the other person can’t.
This is agonizing. Good, but agonizing.
The more you play Mottainai the better you get. You don’t have to remember all the cards (which is good because I can’t even remember last Tuesday) but once you know sort of what’s in there you start to make better choices. There are never enough cards/actions/turns to do what you want and that makes you just the right amount of angry. YOU HAVE TO MAKE GOOD CHOICES! It also makes me a crazy Game Baby to not be able to see my cards when I draw them but that just adds to the feeling of needing to be the best Game Baby you can be. Whatever the theme of Mottainai is supposed to be, there’s definitely something Zen-like about playing it. Here’s my favorite story about that:
Zen Shorts wrote:
There was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically. "Maybe," the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed. "Maybe," replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. "Maybe," answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. "Maybe," said the farmer.
Most importantly for Mottainai is that it’s tiny, like me! You don’t have to choose between carrying the game and carrying your Game Baby because the box will fit in your diaper bag, or if you are like Daddy and hate carrying diaper bags you can just stick the cards in your pocket. Corduroy didn’t have a pocket at first but now he does and so does Daddy so he can bring Mottainai everywhere!
Corduroy! Put Mottainai in that new pocket!
THE GAME BABY RATING
ONETWOTHREEEEEEFORFISICKSSSSEBBENATE NINE peaceful noises out of 10. Mottainai is almost perfect, even without COINS. But it’s confusing at first, and kind of a little bit ugly. Other than that it’s the best deck of cards I’ve ever gotten. Even better than the deck of Pokémon cards my older brother gave me that I chewed through. Those were some really good cards but the Mottainai cards are the best.
This was odd
The Game Baby
Mottainai only has chopsticks. I have a stick stick!
Cute review, maybe a little obtuse but i have a soft spot since I just had my baby boy aug 30th.
Suggestion: Keep the format but perhaps cater it a bit more to new parents, as it is a pretty hot topic, trying to find games that work well when you have a new baby... kinda thing. I'd read every review if that was the case!
The Game Baby
That's a good suggestion for a grown-up. I know better though. Once you get a Game Baby, the only games Mommies and Daddies get to play for a long time are those with a single deck of cards that take less than 20 minutes. Only the Game Baby gets to play with the big games.