Remember those mining tycoon games on the PC back in the old days? Where you had to mine and sell minerals to upgrade you equipment and crew? If you loved that, you’re gonna love this. We have found Super Motherload from Roxley Games which look and work similar to those PC games. In this board game, earth is suffering from an energy crisis and the Solarus Corporation has discovered an infinite source of rare minerals deeply hidden in the planet mars which could end this crisis. It’s up to you to find it.
How to play.
For the setup, place the depth one game board in the middle of the table, keep the other game boards close and place all mineral tiles, artifact tiles (facedown), tunnel tiles and bomb tokens close by. Shuffle the major achievement cards and place three cards faceup on the table. Place the remaining deck in the box. Do the same with the minor achievements but keep the deck facedown next to the achievements. If you play with two, place four minor achievements on the table. Each player chooses a player deck and takes the seven starting pilots with no cost in the top right corner. Shuffle those cards into a starting deck and make sure you have enough space to discard cards. Then sort all remaining pilots by color and place them in four stacks in front of you with the cheapest pilot on top and the most expensive pilot on the bottom. Take four cards into your hand from your starting deck, take a bomb token from the supply and you are ready to play.
On your turn, you can choose two out of three actions and you can perform the same action twice. You can draw two cards from your deck into your hand. If there are no cards left, shuffle your discard pile if you need more. You can also choose to drill. To do this, discard any number of matching color cards that have the drill symbol. A wild drill colored icon can be matched to any color. Place tunnel tiles with the total length equal to the number of drill icons you have played in a straight line. Tunnel always have to be adjacent to previous placed tunnels or have to be placed from the surface of game board depth one. You also cannot drill in rock since you can only bomb rocks. Dirt spaces can always be drilled and steel spaces have to match the color you just discarded in order to be drilled. Once you have placed your tunnels, take the minerals you just covered and place them on a pilot stack of your choice. All minerals of one drilling or bombing action has to go to the same pilot and cannot be split up. Once the cost equals or exceeds the cost of the pilot, you may add the card to your discard pile and discard the minerals back to the supply.
Lastly you can bomb if you have a bomb token and red cards in your hand. Each red pilot shows a bomb pattern on the left side of the card. If you discard this card, you can place tunnels in the exact shape of that pattern. You may flip and rotate the pattern as you wish, you may however not bomb steel spaces. Bombing works excellent on dirt and rocks. After covering the minerals with tunnels, place any collected minerals on a pilot of your choice. Some pilots come with buy bonuses or drill bonuses once you have unlocked them. Buy bonuses can be found in the bottom of the card and are immediately gained when that pilot is bought. This could be adding the cards straight to your hand for example. Drill bonuses are gained once you discard this card for a drill action. Drill bonuses could be taking a card or even being able to drill in rock for this action for example. Make sure you check if you have accomplished any major achievements every time after you have gained new pilots. Major achievements reward you for having purchased certain pilots while minor achievements have specific goals you can complete, like using two artifacts on your turn. Major achievements are never replaced while for every completed minor achievement a new one is drawn from the deck. You can only complete one major and one minor achievement in one turn.
Every depth game board has several artifacts that can be found. If you bomb or drill into an artifact, take one facedown artifact and keep it hidden from other players. You can use the bonuses during any time during your turn. There is no limit in how many artifacts you may gain and use during a turn. Bonuses from artifacts could be victory points, extra minerals or cards for example. Once all artifacts from a depth game board are covered, you can place the next depth board on the table. The player who covered the artifact may choose what side will be face up. and can place the new board under the existing depth board. If there are already two existing depth boards, remove the top board and place all placed tunnels back into the supply. When you play with two players, don’t play with game board depth three. The game ends when the last artifact is placed on game board depth four. All players will take one final turn before counting their scores. Add up all victory points from bought pilots, artifacts and achievements in order to determine your score. The player with the most victory points wins the game.
Playthrough of the game.
After choosing our crew we were ready to explore the depths of Mars and become rich. Unfortunately for me this was easier said then done. For some reason in the first half of the game Tomasz was not only lucky with drawing his cards, but decided to also steel all the best minerals right in front of me whenever he could. The only luck I was having is gaining a lot of bomb tokens. In the meantime he had already doubled his pilots, gained a couple of artifacts and even some achievements. I had to step up my game. I started investing in all the red pilots since I had so many bomb tokens. My luck turned back when I covered the last artifact on the depth two game board and got to choose a side of depth four. I noticed one side had a lot more rocks then the other side which meant Tomasz was going to struggle getting his resources there. Since he had zero bomb tokens to use, he was desperately trying to gain every mineral from steel and dirt spaces while I happily made my comeback. At the end of the game, we had no idea who would win until we were both done counting our points. Even though I made quite the comeback, it wasn’t enough to beat him this time. But I still declare us both rich.
Normally I’m not a fan of deck building games, but this game doesn’t feel like deck building to me. You’re really trying to gain the minerals so you can get more pilots to play with as you explore the depths of Mars. The deeper you go, the more resources you will also find with your evolving team of pilots. As we are used to from Roxley, the quality of the components are great and the art of the pilots looks nice. In my opinion the depths could have used a little more decoration on the game boards. Like tiny aliens lurking around, or different colored rocks for example just to add some more color. Right now it looks a little blend. The gameplay of Super Motherload is smooth and it’s easy to learn. With the small adjustments like taking out one depth board and adding one extra minor achievement, it becomes a good game for two players that is not to short and not to long.
Super Motherload is a deck building sci-fi board game where you try to gain as many minerals as you can to upgrade your crew and get the most victory points. This game is pretty easy to learn with only three kinds of actions to take and has good quality components. The art of the pilots look fun but in our opinion the depth game boards could have been more fun with small underground aliens lurking around or different colored rocks for example. Since there are many different artifacts, minor achievements and double sides depth boards, no game is the same and you will face different challenges every time. We had a lot of fun exploring the depths of Mars and are happy to add this game to our collection.