Cargo-Themed Trick-Taking for Monsoon Market

The last several tests have shown me that my darling drafting/trading mechanism in Monsoon Market just isn't working out the way I hoped. It might work another time, for another theme... but for this game, it's just gotta be put aside. The main issue was that the mechanism just played itself. Choices were too simple and rote. Any way I could think to make the drafting more interesting just tread well-worn ground already covered by Sushi Go, Among the Stars, or 7 Wonders.

The Good Stuff
However, the Boom/Bust cycle actually works out really well. It makes some nice ebb and flow in commodity values. So I need to find a more interesting method of card acquisition, one that remains simple enough for a light strategy experience, but deep enough that even a two-player game is satisfying.

So I'm thinking about a shift in perspective. Instead of each player representing their own port along the Indian Ocean trade route, they might all be playing in the same port, with multiple ships headed to different destinations like Srivijaya or Calicut or Mombasa.

Playing a bit of Chronicle, Was Sticht, 6 Nimmt, Poison and SmashUp has clearly deeply infected my brain, because I'm just swimming in trick-taking ideas lately. Here's a simple one that has been on my mind lately.

Loading Cargo
Let's assume a simple deck of cards with numerical ranks. The game begins with each player having a hand of five cards, and four cards in the middle of the table face-up, as shown below. Imagine these are boats, and their rank is their cargo capacity.

Four boats, with cargo capacity of 12, 8, 2, and 3.

On your turn, dump cargo or load cargo.

Dump Cargo: Discard a card from your hand onto the discard pile.

Load Cargo: Place a card from your hand on any one of the three piles. (Resolve any Actions.)

After loading cargo, you may deliver cargo...

Delivering Cargo: If you cause the total ranks of cargo cards to exceed the boat's capacity, then collect all cards presently in that pile and replace it with the card you just played. This new card is a new boat in that dock. (Note: The first card in a pile only counts as a boat, not cargo.)

You cause the cargo to exceed this boat's capacity,
so you collect the 12 and 10, replacing it with the 5.

Then draw back up to a full hand from the top of the discard pile or from the deck.

That's a simple easy-peasy trick-taking mechanism similar to what you'd see in Poison or SmashUp, but with strong potential for Kanai-style action cards coupled to each rank, triggered by a Load action. Here are some examples.
  1. Load again.
  2. Move card from one boat to another, as if you had loaded it.
  3. Take a card from a boat into your hand.
  4. Immediately collect this boat.
  5. Take a card from any player's collection into your hand.
  6. Discard this boat.
  7. Place a card from your hand directly into any player's collection.
  8. Draw an extra card at the end of your turn, discard back down to five.
  9. Increase this boat's cargo capacity by 6.
Anyway, that's what I'm testing this week, paired with the boom/bust set collection mechanism. We'll see how it turns out!
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.