Marco Polo II introduces many new mechanisms: the guild seals, the shields, the contracts located along the route, variable city cards, etc .. The Mautoma involves all these aspects. In order to manage all these things with the right balancement, it was necessary to increase the intelligence and the realism of the Automa.
However , one goal that I always set myself is to maintain a fluid gaming experience and to minimize the work the player has to do on behalf of the Automa.
Today I present to you the solution I have found, to obtain the best compromise between a good level of AI and play simplicity, and I think this is the real innovative element of this Mautoma: the Smart Mat.
I had already designed a playmat for Marco Polo I's Mautoma, but that was a purely decorative element. The playmat of Marco Polo II's Mautoma is instead an essential element of the gameplay. In fact, it performs some important mechanical functions that integrate with the management of the automa deck.
On the Smart Mat there are some areas that are covered with coins during the set-up. During the game, events may occur that will instruct you to remove some of these coins thus unlocking new actions, which will have a higher priority for the Automa.
In this way, the Automa performs specific actions at the right time based on its strategy. The player does not have to do any additional reasoning, he simply has to do what appears on the cards and on the Smart Mat.
Next time we will talk about the other important mechanism of the Smart Mat: the city display.