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Subject: Glory to Rome Killing Filler rss

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Ben Wickens
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Mottainai is mainly known for being a re-implementation of the out of print and hard to get hold of Glory to Rome. Many people were excited about its release but most people who are fans of Glory to Rome did not feel it brought the same level of fun to the table and many of the copies of this game have been left unloved in people's collections or have been past around, barely getting plays on the second hand market.

I take the minority view that this game is a worthy successor to Glory to Rome that I actually like more than the original game.

If you have never played either game then I would best describe them both as games with cards that can be used in lots of different ways. You start with a hand of cards and each turn you pick a card to use the action on the card. Cards in your hand can also be built or completed to get victory points and be able to use the special abilities on the cards. Cards in your hand will sometimes get discarded to the floor and they can also be used to help completed works from your hand. Cards on the floor can be moved to your craft bench where they can become helpers which give bonus actions when you or another player pick that action, materials where they can help craft cards to completion and sales where they potentially might give players victory points at the end of the game. So cards basically have 6 uses although you are never really having to consider all the uses at the same time so its not that overwhelming.

Victory points are a bit confusing because at the end of the game your "sales" only score if they are fully "covered". As well as normal sales you also get victory points if you have the most "sales" of a particular type of material. In that case you get points for all the cards of that material in your hand.

Some of the powers on the cards seem highly situational like if your opponent has more helpers than you , take one of their helpers..., some seem crazy ( Turtle - if you have a work of each type you immediately win the game). Some seem mundane (+3 points). With 54 different cards each with their own special power there is lots of variety here. More than another popular multi use card game Bruges which boasts 165 different card powers but many of those are variations on a theme (x points for each red building, x points for each blue etc....).

Mottainai is designed to shine with 2-3 players and to have a quicker playing time than Glory to Rome. With Glory to Rome games can take anything from 15 minutes to a bit over an hour whereas Mottainai is designed to take 15-30 minutes when people know what they are doing. Glory to Rome is renowned for having crazy, "game breaking" combinations it also has a great "following" mechanic which enables you to feel and be a little involved in every players turn. The "following" mechanism has been copied in lots of games like Eminent Domain and Tiny Epic Galaxies and works really well, particularly in games with 4-5 players. Fans of Glory to Rome often try Mottainai but are left unsatisfied as it doesnt seem to have this following mechanism, the excitement, fun factor, depth and it is all over much quicker, before some people really get into it. The floor plays out differently too, in Glory to Rome you often have enough cards on the floor that if you soup up your helpers or have card abilities which combo you can sometimes shift utilise multiple cards on the floor in one powerful turn. In Mottainai it is not uncommon, particularly in beginner games for the floor to be largely empty. It takes a few games to see that rather than it just not working as well as it does in Glory to Rome it instead works differently the leaner floor works perfectly for what Mottainai is trying to achieve.

If Mottainai was trying to just be Glory to Rome with a different (less compelling theme) then it clearly does not work. Instead though it takes the concepts in Glory to Rome and melts them into a perfect quick playing game that really plays fairly differently to its predecessor.

Mottainai has a lot of barriers to entry. The rules are not that great to read, the game terms and rules are a bit counter intuitive and seem needlessly complex (they all work perfectly once you get to grips though). Also the first game or two can fall a bit flat as players have no idea what they are doing or why and there can be constant checking of rules, rule mistakes and players are strategically floundering in ways that often seems to help their opponents as much or more than themselves. People who like theme in game or interesting art will be disappointed by the thin thematic trappings and the basic and bland art used in the game. People who are happy with moderately complex rules will often not want the randomness that comes with Mottainai.

This is a game that rewards repeat plays and without that it will just seem frustrating. Once you get to grips with it though this is one of the best games for repeat plays with 2-3 people in a quick playing time, lots and lots of variety, lots of fun combinations to discover and explore and 54 unique cards each combine in interesting ways.

There is also an expansion in the works that adds another 54 unique cards which is 108 compared to the 40 unique buildings in Glory to Rome. Many do not quite feel as crazy as those in Glory to Rome but only a tiny margin less.

The game is highly tactical and there is a high level of randomness in it which will frustrate heavier gamers but good play and repeat plays are rewarded in a game that is not so punishing that you cannot introduce it to a new player and they enjoy it. The game is not without mean-ness and there are cards which steal a work,helper, material or sale from someone with more of that type than you but they rarely feel nasty or as brutal as they can in games with stronger take that elements. In fact this is a game where ever task you pick will help your opponents and you are trying to maneuver so that everything helps you a little bit more but sometimes you will play a card that lets your opponent do something they really wanted to do (complete a work they didnt have an extra card to use as a task for them to do it, get a material that lets them get a sale or craft a work etc.).

If you can find someone who is up for playing the game enough to see what it has to offer, like lots of strategic and tactical choices, crazy combinations to explore without an overwhelming number of powers in play at one time that can play in 15-30 minutes and can offer a lot of interesting choices in that time without feeling too much like a game that is only fun for the winning or "better" player. If you can get a regular opponent this is an excellent, multi use tableau building card game that will not wear out its welcome and is very interactive without being overly mean. There is a lot of luck and randomness in the game so its not best suited as being a head to head strategic or tactical battle but for me that is actually part of its appeal. Players of unequal skill can still all have a great time.
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Jeffrey D Myers
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Agreed, but you have a hanging "but" at the end there....
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Alex Kendrick
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Man this just sounds great and I'm drawn to the game (as well as the aesthetics). But I have tried to learn it twice though (playing against myself) and I am just floundering. I feel like if someone could just teach me in person it would click. I don't normally have a hard time learning a new game from the rules and then teaching others, but this one...
 
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I watched Rahdo's run through and that got me the gist of the rules. He makes a mistake or two, but he gets the main ideas across pretty well, I thought. Even still, it took me a few games playing both hands to really feel out the "flow" of the game.

Don't give up! Comparisons to Glory to Rome matter not; this is a great game which wrings an amazing amount of depth from fewer components than almost any other in my collection.
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Darin Bolyard
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apkendrick wrote:
Man this just sounds great and I'm drawn to the game (as well as the aesthetics). But I have tried to learn it twice though (playing against myself) and I am just floundering. I feel like if someone could just teach me in person it would click. I don't normally have a hard time learning a new game from the rules and then teaching others, but this one...

This is a common problem with Mottainai. And it's unfortunately a major deterrent for some, which is completely understandable. After all, there are so many good games that are much easier to learn and teach others. But Mottainai is a rare title that's worth battling the high learning curve. There is a warm light at the end of that tunnel. And yeah, if you can find a proficient player to teach you how to play, that's best. The rules just aren't very intuitive. Again, terribly unfortunate, as this game is absolutely solid once you learn it.

And I'm with the reviewer--This beats GtR. GtR is fiddly imo and too long in comparison to Mottainai. I did enjoy GtR when I played it, but only until I played this and it's other iteration--Uchronia...also better than its predecessor imo.
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Trevor Taylor
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dbolyard wrote:
apkendrick wrote:
Man this just sounds great and I'm drawn to the game (as well as the aesthetics). But I have tried to learn it twice though (playing against myself) and I am just floundering. I feel like if someone could just teach me in person it would click. I don't normally have a hard time learning a new game from the rules and then teaching others, but this one...

This is a common problem with Mottainai. And it's unfortunately a major deterrent for some, which is completely understandable. After all, there are so many good games that are much easier to learn and teach others. But Mottainai is a rare title that's worth battling the high learning curve. There is a warm light at the end of that tunnel. And yeah, if you can find a proficient player to teach you how to play, that's best. The rules just aren't very intuitive. Again, terribly unfortunate, as this game is absolutely solid once you learn it.

And I'm with the reviewer--This beats GtR. GtR is fiddly imo and too long in comparison to Mottainai. I did enjoy GtR when I played it, but only until I played this and it's other iteration--Uchronia...also better than its predecessor imo.


Snap, setup of GtR is ridiculous in comparison to Mottainai. Everyone (except my wife) that I've taught Mottainai to has lost, but wanted to play again as soon as possible. After Androminion, it's also my go-to game for playing solo while waiting for people to turn up for games night. It's so much game packed into a single deck of cards. I wouldn't ever recommend playing it with more than 3 though. After that you should play in 2 games instead.
 
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Ben Wickens
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Thanks for the feedback - corrected the hanging "but".

The developer has done some good videos on learning the game. They are not high tech but I found them useful.

This one also is good https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEO5KB8HPZE if you want to learn it. It is not that hard a game to teach. Key is to start showing mid hand and walk through open handed what someone could do each turn, cover the process for each turn and quickly everyone can see the flow.

Then cover end game scoring... People will then get bit confused with Crafting vs Completing a work, will get puzzled by a few points in terms of strategy/why the game is designed that way (backorders, covered sales, wings for completed works, "why not just pray all the time"...) but will kind of have the rules down quickly. First game might take a little longer than the 15-30 min just because people might be struggling to know what they should be doing and why but its not too bad. The larger problem is people not seeing that the game is worth persisting with for a few games for it to really shine. Dont get me wrong I loved my first play but I can see why others might not give it the time for the design choices (particularly the differences with Glory to Rome) work so well.

I have also enjoyed playing the game on my own just to see what combinations I can come up with. It does not work properly as you know information that should be hidden but is still a lot of fun, particularly with the expansion in the mix (which I have PnP-ed a beta test copy of.
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