A visit from @no_fun_girl and @pkerr2 meant GAMES.
I was introduced to Suburbia and holy fuck is that an awesome game. It combines my love of building shit with bits (yay tile-laying) with engine building (yay Chudyk) and politics (yay denying you the tile you need to complete your engine). Also, being a homeowner in a rural/suburban area, I find the theme to be quite compelling, and the theme feels like an integral part of the game rather than some pasted-on affectation (I’m looking at you, Hansa Teutonica).
There is evidently an expansion for Mottainai called Wutai Mountain that is currently an open beta. You can grab the print-and-play file here.
Wutai seems to be an attempt to add chaos and fiddly complexity to Mottainai. Innovation-esque, according to our guests. It introduces something called an “OM” work, which are wicked powerful cards that can be powered up by tucking cards as OM-sales, OM-materials, or OM-helpers. Those tucked cards don’t give the normal benefit, but instead power up the OM card to do ludicrous shit. When you complete an OM work, you can tuck any number of cards from your hand around it, and from then on, any of the tucking actions (Monk, Potter, Clerk) allow you to tuck under an OM work instead of your play mat.
As an example, there’s a Paper work that allows you to tuck cards as OM-materials. Its power is that a Smith action allows you to complete works whose type matches one of your OM-materials for free. In two turns, I built it up to allow me to complete literally all works from my hand for free with a Smith.
Overall, I’m not sure I’m into it. I see what he’s going for, but I think it adds too much fiddly nonsense to a very pure, distilled game. It also slows the thing way down - the Wutai deck is added onto the existing game, and you draw a card from it the first time you Pray on your turn, so you don’t run out the main deck as quickly and thus slow the progress of one end condition.
I’m contemplating some possible changes and have a vague inclination in playtesting those, but overall I think Chudyk is trying to Chudyk too hard with this one.
On the theme of too much Chudyk, I tried Impulse again - with 3 players, so hypothetically its best mode - and I find myself still frustrated that it’s not good.
I should, by all rights, enjoy a 4x Chudyk. Spacefaring and engine-building and tucking stuff under stuff? That’s literally everything I love in one game. The problem is that it’s too much fucking Chudyk, and there are so many options and so much chaos that even with a low number of players, it’s hard to control your victory.
I’m mad enough at it that I want to houserule and playtest it until it’s actually good.
So, pursuant to that, some thoughts on the game in no particular order:
-Board size: As written, this is at most a 4-player game. Maintaining a static board size beyond that is a design flaw. I would add an additional ring of cards for 5 and 6. That has to happen. For the time being, I will treat this as a 2 - 4 player game.
-Impulse: I would also extend the impulse length to 1 card per player, so that everyone gets to use everyone else’s actions.
5 or 6 players would probably need some alternative to prevent a turn from bogging down excessively, but again, this is not a 5 or 6 player game.
I’m also vaguely interested in fucking around with how the impulse works - maybe instead of trimming, once the impulse is full, you replace an action instead of adding an action. Or maybe instead of one person doing the entire impulse, every player does the first action, and then every player does the second, and so on.
-Action Density: There’s too much fiddly bullshit. 10 actions is flatly too many options for the game. Not only does it make it hard to calculate a path forward, it also stymies progress by effectively diluting your choices once you’ve started on a path, resulting in too much dependence on lucky draws and other chaotic results.
Some of the actions seem to create unnecessary divergance from the core Chudyk engine. In particular:
-Trade is generally a sub-optimal point-generation strategy, and offers a path to victory unrelated to the vast majority of the action in a game. In a proper 4X game, you might offer such a divergence to a player, but here it adds needless complexity and removes focus.
-Execute violates a core tenet of Chudyk - actions are shared between players - and does so redundantly, because you can already get an exclusive action through techs via Research. It really has no reason to exist - if you want a card as an action, either put it in the impulse and let other people get at it, or put it on the board and defend it. If you want to be greedy, that’s what techs are for.
-Sabotage adds chaos without really adding strategic depth to the game. Cruisers already threaten cards by virtue of patrolling, and there is already a threat of chaos and instability in battles. Sabotage adds one more layer that just serves to randomly fuck someone over. No bueno.
I want to completely remove those three actions and their associated cards. That would change the deck balance, the speed of the game, and the degree of focus in the game while not actually substantially changing useful strategic options. By taking out those redundant filler actions, you increase the odds of encountering useful options, and thus force actual choices.
I’d probably have to look at color balance after that, but I doubt I can possibly make the game worse.
I also have some misgivings about Plan. There are only 5 or 6 of those cards in a deck of 108, so why are they there at all? I could see making it into an inherent player action - like, somewhere in your turn you get a choice to either do something or add a card to your Plan.
Anyone have thoughts on my thoughts? I really really want this game to not suck.