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Mamma Mia

Doug Adams writes:

Publisher: Amigo/Rio Grande
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Players: 2-5

Mamma Mia is the new game from Uwe Roesenberg, who designed the popular Bohnanza, as well as the excellent Schnaeppchen Jagd. This new game is in the same mould as Bohnanza, quirky, lightweight and quite addictive.

The object of Mamma Mia is to fill more pizza orders than your opponents. This is a card game, where each player takes a set of eight colour coded "order cards", each depicting a pizza with a specific combination of ingredients. The rest of the cards are the ingredients cards, with thirteen each of salami, pineapple, peppers, mushrooms and olives.

Each player shuffles their order cards and places them face down in front of themselves. The top order card is drawn, and each player is dealt six ingredients cards off the ingredients deck, making a hand size of seven cards.

The players take turns to place cards from their hand onto a face up stack called the "pizza stack". On their turn, each player must play at least one ingredient card, and optionally extra ingredients cards as long as they are the same type as the first card. If you've played Bohnanza, just like planting beans!

The player may then place one pizza order card on top of their just placed ingredient(s) cards. They fill their hand back up to seven cards hand by either drawing off the face down common ingredients deck, or by drawing from their own pizza order deck. They must draw from one, or the other, but not both.

Play passes around the table until the ingredient stack is empty. What has happened is the ingredients cards have funnelled through the players hands and back out into the pizza stack, along with a bunch of pizza order cards.

One special card in the ingredients deck is the Mamma Mia card, and whoever draws this card is in charge of filling the pizza orders for the round. The player who is Mamma Mia picks up the pizza deck, flips it over and then starts turning the cards up, one by one, in the order they were placed there.

Any ingredients cards that are flipped up are sorted by type into a common pool. When a pizza order is flipped up, the common pool is scanned to see if the pizza can be created from the ingredients present. If not, the player who's order is being filled may add cards from their hands to complete the order. If the pizza is completed, the card is set aside out of the game, otherwise it is slipped back under that player's pizza stack.

The entire pizza stack is run through, card by card, with pizzas being made, or given back to the players. This ends a round, with any left over ingredients in the pool remaining there, while the ingredients that made pizzas are shuffled to create a new ingredient stack.

Three rounds are played and it's the player who completes the most pizzas that wins the game, with ingredients held in hand breaking ties.

To be successful at this game, you need a good memory. Groan! But it is true, you must constantly watch what ingredients are added to the pizza stack and slip your pizza cards in there when you deem the time right. It comes down to a gigantic game of chicken, where you and your opponents are holding off playing order cards into the stack until you're sure the ingredients requires for that pizza are there. Hesitate and you may get undercut, play too soon and your pizza may not be made due to lack of ingredients!

The game possibly sounds a bit dull and boring, however it doesn't play that way. Game play is very fast and there is no downtime as you MUST watch the pizza stack even when it is not your turn. In short, it works, and Uwe Rosenberg is rapidly becoming a designer to watch for. Good game, with great crossover appeal to family and friends.

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