The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Mottainai Strategy

After another burst of (2p) Mottainai I’m starting to see some patterns and harmonies. As my review of Mottainai noted, my chief complaint is that the game ends right after it starts; but that’s a pretty good problem to have. Mottainai plays like Pringles, a game, then a game, then a game…

Mottainai’s similarities with Glory to Rome tripped me up for quite a while. I noticed the subtle differences, but didn’t really grok the implications until recently.

Because of similarities in nomenclature, I’m just going to use Mottainai’s terms. I considered translating to G2R, but that would be a bewildering mess.

FIRST: You release your card at the start of your turn — In Glory, you lead/follow and then the cards immediately go at the end of each turn. So — in G2R — if you play a great role the next player will play Monk and then grab it as a helper for the rest of the game.  Experienced G2R players avoid playing a great role and use sheninigans like playing groups of three roles as a wild on the turn prior, just to get you the first shot at them.

In Mottainai tasks release on your next turn, so you don’t have to worry about that.

Related — when it’s your turn to lead you can decline to play a task, which lets you pray for a card. (You can still use the other player’s tasks to craft/pray). In G2R, skipping your turn is a mixed blessing. You fill up your handsize, but you don’t get control. You miss the chance to pick a role that others may not be able to follow.

In Mottainai, following is free — everyone can use your tasks (barring some buildings).

So I figured declining to play a task was fine. You don’t control tempo as much, but nobody can leach.

But you can punish a player who consistently skips by grabbing cards from the floor into your craftbench or helpers. Normally whatever role you select your opponent could take the task he played his prior turn. But no task last turn means nothing to grab, so they have to pray. (Or craft, but crafting stone instead of using a Monk requires a stone building in hand and a stone on the craftbench, and crafting clay instead of  using a Potter (laborer) requires two clay).

SECOND — Having cards in the craftbench is even better than in G2R. In Glory, you can either use materials in your bench to finish works or sell for VP. You can do the latter in Mottainai, but sales aren’t necessarily VP. To earn VP, you must cover the sale. Having the most of one material earns you the variable backorder points for cards in hand (instead of 3VP). But once you have something in the stockpile, it isn’t used up. If you have a clothe on your craftbench, then anytime someone plays tailor you can use the action or finish any grey work. Powerfully flexible. Having two clay or metal on the bench means you can craft instead of Potter or Smith. Again, flexible. If that doesn’t end the game, then you can craft to move a good or two into sales.

THIRD — Tempo! In general, you want to put your buildings on the sales gallery, to cover your sales. These are worth more points at the end. Also, splitting your works means you can’t control the end of the game. In general, you want to end it. There’s one exception (see below), so splitting works just to double the efficiency of a helper isn’t a great deal. You can always slap down 3-4 works on the sales side then start on the other gallery. (The exception? If you need a long game, you may as well start doubling helpers now).

FOURTH — Helpers aren’t as critical as clients in G2R. You still want them, but because you can have any number (not limited be influence). Grabbing a mediocre helper isn’t a problem. And because you pray by using a helper (or task), the more the merrier. Even multiple tailors may let you craft a cloth work, then tailor, then pray for a sixth card. Yes, you have to discard the sixth card at the start of your turn, but….

FIFTH — Extra hand size (even though discarded before you can use it) is amazing. You may turn your enemies Smith into a metal work. There are only 10 metal cards out of 54, so the odds of getting three metal out of five random cards are only 3% or so. But getting up to a seven card hand nearly triples the odds. And — more importantly — you’ll be well placed to handle whatever your opponent does. Beware of playing an action that the opponent can craft on (particularly with multiple helpers) or beware the smith if your opponent has a full hand.

Incidentally, the exception about ending the game? Backorders. Like many Chudyk games, the game ends right away, nothing else, when it triggers. Which means if your opponent has a 7+ card hand, they all count for backorders. If they aren’t winning anything, fine, but if they are … particularly with a single ‘3’ card sale, you could be in for a nasty surprise.

More thoughts later, if I have any.


Written by taogaming

July 19, 2016 at 6:32 pm

Posted in Strategy

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