Then I got to thinking about how elegantly Phil Walker-Harding designed the set collection mechanics in Sushi Go! Check out the video demo on that link to see what I mean. The game is just so danged clever.
But Sushi Go is a card drafting game. Everyone's trying to get the best pick of their own hand while preventing their opponent from getting something that they want. But what if you could had a stake in your opponent's group somehow? What if you were actually invested in your opponent's prosperity, because it helped, you too, though to a slightly lesser extent?
This got me thinking back to Make Me An Offer, the odd mashup of Euro sensibilities and American Apples 2 Apples mechanics. What if you played Make Me An Offer with Sushi Go cards? For example...
It's your turn. You have a hand of cards. You put out one of your cards as a way of stating "I'm trying to build a set from this card."
Then each player draws and reveals a card from their hands at the same time, thus offering those cards to you. These may be worth something to you, maybe not. Either way, you may take one or more of those cards and add them to your collection.
In doing so, you allow those players to put a meeple on that group of cards. Any cards that were not selected are discarded.
Everyone draws one new card from the deck and the next player takes their turn.
At the end of the game, you score your collection of cards. You also score for the other players' collection of cards, as if each meeple in their card-group was a card in your collection.
For example, if your opponent has five nigiri, and you have two meeples on that group, it counts as a two-nigiri group for you.
Thus, players aren't just trying to build up their own sets, but get a sizable share in your opponent's groups, too. Granted, your opponent will always get the better reward for their group, but you can keep up a little bit.
So that's the loose mechanical idea. If it were to fit the Zap Brannigan theme of For the Fleet, I'd need to add things like "SHIELDS" which protect groups of cards from the hazards of space. That implies some periodic events that would endanger a group. Hm. HMM.
If the cards were types of crew members, that would be interesting. Each player is trying to recruit the best crew for their ships, trading crew with each other in the process? Worth considering.