Main Event Games · Reviews

Review of Motora

Game:Motora

Designer: Calum Taylor

Published: Twisted Bit Games

Players: 2-6

Playtime: 30-120 Minutes

Play Type: Worker Placement/ Player Elimination

Synopsis:

The gods of Motora are angry, and the priestesses of the island are looking for a solution to spare their tribes from the wrath of the gods. After a great deal of searching, they discover that there are only two ways to placate the gods, either by gathering all of the sacred idols or by elimination the other tribes of the island. It is your job as the chief of the tribe to ensure that your people survive. You must keep your people fed and happy while trying to gather these idols or defeat the competition.

Game Play:

Motora is a game that is played over a series of turns with three phases to each turn. Each player will complete a phase before starting the next phase. The phases are as follows: Placement, Combat, Resource Action. Players will continue repeating these phases until either all players are eliminated except one, or one player has gathered all of the idols required for their player count. Let’s take a closer look at those phases to better understand how to meet those goals.

Placement:

There are four steps to the placement phase:

  1. First player places one worker. Then in clockwise order, each other player places their first worker.
  2. Players place a second worker in clockwise order.
  3. Once all players have placed two workers, an event card is drawn and resolved.
  4. Players will place all remaining workers in clockwise order.

When placing workers there are a few things to keep in mind. First, resources that can be gathered and the actions workers can take depend on where they are. In the bottom left corner of the tiles, it will give symbols explaining which actions can be taken. Players only place one worker at a time, and that worker cannot be moved during that turn again after being placed.

There are a few rules for placement. Workers can be placed upto five tiles away orthogonally from their village without cost. If a player plans to have a villager be placed further than that, then they must pay a shelter for each tile past that limit.  Workers cannot cross oceans or volcanos when counting this distance. If a player wishes to cross either a volcano or ocean, they must work around those spaces, counting the additional distance. Players may be placed on any tile except volcanos.

When selecting an event card, players will select one after each player has placed two workers. These event cards have a variety of effects that may include restricting/destroying tiles, removing/ adding resources or directly affecting villagers on the board.

Once the event card is resolved, continue placing all applicable workers. Remembering that injured and severely injured workers will not be placed.

Combat

Combat is the second phase of game play in Motora. There are two ways that the combat phase can be triggered, and it may not be present in every turn during a game. The first way that combat can be triggered is if two different players place their villagers on the same tile. The second way is if one player places their villager on another player’s village.

Combat is resolved in player order. When resolving combat each player involved in that combat rolls two dice at the same time and compares their totals. The highest wins, however there are different effects that may happen to the loser depending on the difference of those totals. The biggest difference will affect all losing players in times when there are three or more tribes fighting. When players lose, their worker may become injured, seriously injured, killed, a prisoner, or make it out okay. Players may re roll one die for every additional worker they have placed on the tile.

When fighting in villages, a player defending their village would get +1 to their combat score. If an attacking player wins a combat against a village, then they may raid the village. When raiding a village players are able to do one of the following actions: steal food/drink, destroy shelter, rescue prisoners from your tribe, transport an idol from that tribe, or steal a piece of unused gear.

It is possible for a worker to become a prisoner during combat. It is important to realize that prisoners cannot be placed as additional workers for those who have taken them, and they will not defend their captors tribe. They do consume goods from their captor. Prisoners can be cannibalized to gain food as well.

Action Resource Phase

Before taking any other actions, players must move their seriously injured workers to the injured section of their board, and any injured workers to the active workers section. Workers who have been injured that turn will not move.

There are four actions that can be taken during the Action/Resource phase:

  • Gather: Tribe members may gather resources from the tile they are standing. Players will place their tribe member back on the active space, and mark any resources gained. This action may be completed by only one worker per turn.
  • Fish: Worker may gather fish from an adjacent fishing spot. This can only be used by one tribe member per turn.
  • Transport: Move an idol tile once per present tribe member (max 2). An Idol may only be moved once per turn, and those workers who move an idol may not gather resources.
  • Recruit: If two workers are present on the home village, the player may gain another worker. That worker will not consume resources for this turn. Players may have no more than 8 workers.

Players may use multiple actions on a tile, if they have a worker present to carry out each action. Workers may only complete one action per turn.

Players may gather equipment cards from craftsman tiles or temple tiles. Some of these cards are gear cards that can be used multiple times, but may only affect one worker when being used. Unused gear can be stolen in raids. Some cards are single use cards that are used then returned to the bottom of the deck. These cards must be used at the beginning of a turn, before any workers are played.

Once these actions have been completed, players must also send their resources. Players must consume one food per worker. If a player cannot pay the food cost, then a worker dies and must be placed on the shrine space on the player board. Additionally, players must pay one water per tribe member each turn. If a player cannot pay the water cost, a worker dies an is placed on a shrine. Finally, players must pay one shelter per turn. If a player cannot pay the shelter cost, then they may not stockpile any food, water or storage tiles this turn. They will start the next turn with 0 food, water and shelter. They must also discard all equipment cards. Players may only lose one worker for lack of food per turn and one worker for lack of water per turn, regardless of the number of resources they are short. Players start with starting resources listed on their village tile.

Winning

Players win Motora if their tribe is the only tribe with workers left. Players may also win if they have collected all the idols. When players move an idol onto their village they must either place it on the Shrine of Life or the Shrine of Death. Once it is placed it cannot be moved unless stolen in a raid. Each shrine provides a benefit, with the Shrine of Life giving the player an additional resource gathered per turn. The Shrine of Death provides a bonus to combat rolls. The number of idols needed to be collected is dependant on the number of players.

Components:

Please keep in mind that I was provided a prototype copy of Motora for review purposes, and components and rules are subject to change.

Motora is a very vibrant game. Personally, I was very fond of the contrasting cover art, and felt that the art and tokens throughout were well made and easy to distinguish. While I cannot comment of the final product, I will say that the symbols that were used for gathering as well as different tiles were very clear and I did not need to look them up at all. This made for a more seamless playing experience.

Having all the smaller tiles on larger tiles can be difficult though, if one thing is bumped than the rest of the tiles can quickly become out of place. My only other critique of components would be that I would love to see a player guide added. When there are multiple phases of gameplay in a game, I find that a player guide helps keep everyone on the same page. It is also extremely helpful for teaching new players.

Overview:

Positives:

  • High Player Count
  • Multiple Paths to Victory
  • Replayability
  • High Player Interaction
  • Vibrant Artwork
  • Unique Combination of Mechanics

Negatives:

  • Player Elimination
  • Long Play Duration
  • Jumping Around in the Rulebook
  • Player Elimination
  • Luck Based Elements

Motora is a vibrant, and unique game that will provide a new experience for players who enjoy worker placement, but are looking for more aggressive player interaction. It combines a variety of mechanics that fit well together, but I have not seen prior in another worker placement game. The mixture of resource management, combat and worker placement means that the game should capture the interest of almost any gamer. I would warn though that I would not suggest this game for players who do not enjoy aggressive player interaction. The game has a heavy focus on this direct confrontation.

I would especially suggest Motora to players who enjoy the resource management aspect of game like Agricola or for players who are into Ameritrash games like Zombicide or Blood Rage who are looking for a transition to eurogaming. This game seamlessly fits into both categories, and could be a great compromise on game night for players who are hoping for one or the other.

Though I will say that Motora plays best at player counts between 4-5. This is because in lower player counts the game does not have as much player interaction, as players have full reign of the board before being forced into combat. However, at six players the game does seem to take a little too long for my tastes. I had a game last two and a half hours, which was a little longer than I would have liked to spend on this game. In a 4-5 player game there is a good balance between player interaction and duration of game play.

Though the combination of mechanics is unique, players may be disappointed by the addition of player elimination, especially because the duration of the game can be very long. Players who are eliminated early on may have to wait over a hour for the game to be over. While I personally do not mind games that feature player elimination, I am not fond of games that have player elimination with such long durations. It leads to frustration and can make other players feel uncomfortable or rushed to complete the game.

Additionally there is a lot of luck based mechanics in the game. With both combat and raiding being determined by luck, players may feel frustrated if they are unlucky with their dice rolls. This may be a positive for players who are seeking a less structured euro though, as it does provide a nice variety and can help combat a runaway winner.

Overall, I would suggest Motora, especially to those looking for a more aggressive game play and for those who are experienced gamers. The rule book does some bouncing around, so it is important to have a strong leader to explain rules. With the different phases, having an experienced gamers will make the game flow better and will not confuse or overwhelm them. Every time I have played it I have enjoyed it’s cut-throat nature and the engaging game play. It provides a consistent tension throughout the game and a sense of urgency that captures the players’ attention. The direct player interaction is something that I enjoy in games, and many euro games do not include as an extensive mechanic. While this game may not be for everyone, I do think that it provides a unique game play experience, filling a gap in the market. I am looking forward to seeing this published and available in its final form.

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