I am always drawn toward unique games.  Games that don’t look or feel like all the other games. When I heard about Super Motherload I was instantly hooked just from the name. It’s just so fun to say and when you tell people, they usually give you this look like, that is a real game?  It sounds like this second rate game that failed on Kickstarter and they decided to make it themselves using their garage and money from their birthday cards from Grandma.  I watched a video on it and was in from the beginning.  It took me a while to find but when I did, I jumped on it. Hopefully it lived up to my expectations.  Here we go…..

Overview

Publisher: Roxley Games

Designer:  Gavan Brown and Matt Tolman

Players: 2-4

Time: 60-75

In Super Motherload, each player plays as a team of explorers set out to dig on Mars and gain the most money.  Each team will have the chance to hire new crew members, gain minerals, and achieve goals.  Hopefully you have made the right choices and maximized your moves the best.  This game has a couple of different mini games within the game.

Game Play

The main board is double sided, pick one side and put it in the middle of the table.  There will be two artifact spots on the board, place a random artifact token face down on each spot.  Each player chooses a beginning color.  Each color, or team, has a deck of cards to it.  Each deck is slightly different.  Each player takes his starting deck of ten cards then sets up his personal buy decks.  Each stack needs to have the same color and in order from cheapest on top to most expensive on bottom.  Each player will have four stacks to buy from.  Then shuffle your ten cards and draw 5. Setup is complete.

On your turn, you take 2 actions.  First action you can take is drill.  To drill, you simply play cards from your hand.  You can drill as many spaces as you have drill icons on the cards you play.  In order to drill more, you need to play cards of the same color.  If you play different color cards that will cost you two actions.  Drilling allows you to drill on the main board.  Think Dig Dug the old computer game.  You take tiles based on how many drill icons and you cover spaces on the main board.  The materials you cover up you get to keep and use to buy new crew from your stacks of cards.  Everything you gain from digging you have to put on one single card to purchase. This is a little tricky and takes some planning.

The next action you can take is bombing.  Bombing works the exact same way as drilling only you have to cover up areas in a specific pattern.  Think the same as Tetris.  You also need a bomb token to use.  You gain bombs by covering up specific areas on the board, gaining crew members, or from artifacts.  Some of the spaces can only be dug with drills while some of the spaces can only be bombed.

The last action you can take is drawing two cards.  This is one of the only ways you can get new cards in your hand from your deck.  I love how they implemented this in the game instead of just drawing a certain number of cards at the end of your turn.

Once you have put enough money on a crew card in your area, you simply buy that crew member.  Take all the money you had on it and discard it.  Put the new card into your discard pile.  Each card has an immediate benefit when you buy it.  You also don’t get change back, so if you over pay, tough!

As you are playing the game, there will be Major Goals and Minor Goals that can be achieved and these are available to all players in the game.  Once the first person achieves these goals they take them for victory points at the end of the game.

Once all the artifacts are taken on the first board, you add a new one.  After all the artifacts on the fourth digging board have been taken the game will end.  Only 3 boards for two players.  Each player counts the points he earned on his crew members purchased, Goals obtained and the player with the most points is the winner.

My Ratings

Components: 3/5

The components are solid but nothing spectacular.  The tiles are nice and thick, cards are nice and sturdy but the art is just okay.  Some of it looks good but could have been much cooler.  I love the different decks and the time they spent must have been brutal.  I just can’t help but think there could have been more boards to add variety.

Mechanisms: 5/5

I absolutely love the mechanisms in this game.  I love the simple turns.  Take two actions, done.  I love that one of the actions is to draw new cards.  It forces more strategic choices on how to maximize you turns.  I love the drilling part.  You need the same color to get the most out of your turn, but is it the right color to drill where you need to drill?  Many times you will be limited to your cards, but there will always be somewhere to dig.  The puzzle aspect of finding the best place to dig and hoping that no one takes it before it’s your turn then trying to find another one once it’s taken is fantastic.  I also love the deckbuilding and how you gain crew members.  When you drill you have to put all the money you gained onto one and only one crew member.  If you go over by 10 dollars, then tough, no change.  You can keep going after the same crew member or spread them out dig after dig.  I also love going after goals as it gives you something to shoot for.  The Bomb action is also great.  Allows you to gain minerals differently from drilling but makes it harder to do since you have to make sure you have bomb tokens, and they are hard to get.  There really isn’t a bad mechanism in this game and they all work so smoothly within the game.

Strategy: 4/5

Strategy and mechanisms really work hand in hand in Super Motherload.  You need the best minerals to hire crew members and the crew members help get points for the end of the game.  There are really two different strategies you can take.  As you gain crew members from each stack the next crew members will cost more but be worth more victory points.  So you can try to get as many cheaper crew members from all the stacks or focus on a couple stacks trying to get the most expensive ones.  This is much easier in a 2 player game than in a 4 player game.  Then there is just the strategy of what minerals to get and when.  Better take the best option for what you need or someone will take it from you in a heart beat.  There are tons of great decisions to make throughout the entire game.

Replayability: 3/5

This is where it could be so much better.  I really feel like the different decks for each crew could have been much better.  If one deck focused on bombing or one focused on drilling it would make me want to play more often and try different decks.  As they are now, there are differences in each deck but not much.  I also feel that adding more boards and different options would have helped greatly with replayability.

Final Thoughts: 16/20

Overall, I love Super Motherload and am extremely happy to have it in my collection.  This definitely scratches that itch for that unique experience that you won’t see in another game.  The mechanisms and the strategies work so well together in this game.  The game is super smooth and plays well at all player counts.  If you ever get a chance to play this one please give it a go as you will not be disappointed.  Gavan Brown and Matt Tolman designed a great game that will stay in my collection for years to come.

-Tim