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Subject: Mina's Not-So-Mini Review - Burano With Two rss

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Milena Guberinic
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Mina's Not-So-Mini Review - Burano With Two




The Overview


Burano is a game of fishing, lace making, and city building. In Burano, you will build a pyramid of colorful action cubes and then use coins to operate your pyramid and place cubes into the city to take actions associated with the cube colors. Actions include fishing, lace making, city building, and roofing.

Burano is a game with MANY pieces and many levers, so I will not be able to describe every aspect of the game in detail, but I will do my best to provide a general overview.

Burano presents you with 3 different boards - your player board, an action board, and a city board. The city board is divided into a main island and a workshop island, which are surrounded by 2 ports and 6 neighboring islands.



The action board features a supply of 4 different roof tiles, a round/turn track, and action spaces that determine which cube colors are associated with which actions each round.



The player board shows a privilege track, 3 roof spaces, a move track, and a schedule ring space.



Each round, you will a) construct an action cube pyramid, b) take actions, and c) clean up and prepare for the next round.

A. Cube Pyramid Construction
At the start of each round, you choose 14 cubes from your reserve and build a pyramid out of them. The base will have 9 cubes, the second level 4, and the final level 1. If you have any cubes remaining, you discard them and gain 1 coin for each discarded cube.



B) Actions
The game is played over 4 rounds. In the first 2, you will get 4 turns and in the last 2, you will get 3 turns. Each turn, you will be able to execute up to 4 moves if you can pay for them. You may:

*Pick up a cube from the top of your pyramid and put it in one of the 3 spaces on the preparation area on your board.

*Build a house by placing a cube on the main island. Then, you perform the action associated with the cube color. Actions include:
1) Fishing - You move your fishing boat from your current neighboring island to the next island or to a port. If you move to a neighboring island, you check the 3 colors indicated with red arrows on your schedule ring and find how many huts of matching color are on the island. If you match 1 or 2, you leave 1 worker on that island and boot out 1 of each player's worker who is on that island. If you match 3, you may leave up to 2 workers on that island. You also collect fish cards equal to the number of colors you matched. Then, you rotate your schedule ring clockwise so that the number 1 is pointing to a worker.

If you move to a port, you trade your fish cards to score VP as shown on a port tile you select. Then, you move that port tile to the opposite side of the board.







2) Lace making - You check the 3 colors indicated with red arrows on your schedule ring and place ladies in the lace workshops of those colors. However, once you have placed a lady, you must place additional ladies on adjacent workshop spaces.



3) Earning - You gain 1 coin for each uncovered coin space on your schedule ring and may retrieve men from neighboring islands or ladies from the lace workshops to your schedule ring to gain 1 additional coin for each.



*Roof houses by placing a roof tile on top of 2 adjacent cubes that bear the same colors as shown on the roof tiles and gain points as shown on the roof tile. One type of roof tile provides points for having a majority of workers on neighboring islands, another for majority of workers in lace workshops, another for uncovered fountains on your schedule ring, and another simply gives you 4 points. Once you've scored, you may choose to either gain 2 privilege points or to take a building card that will provide bonuses during the game or at the end of the game. You can use privilege to gain coins or cubes to your pyramid or to modify fishing and lace making actions.





C) Cleanup
1. Score majorities in each neighboring island - In a two-player game, the player with the majority of workers on each island gains 2 points
2. Score for lace making - For each lady in the workshop area, you may return one cube of the matching color from your pyramid to gain 2 points for each. If you withdraw orthogonally adjacent ladies, you gain bonus points.
3. Shuffle the action markers on the action board to create a new association between cube colors and actions.
4. Refill your action cube supply by tearing down your pyramid and adding to those cubes of the colors shown by the workers occupying spaces on your schedule ring.
5. Refill your roof tile supply to 3, discarding any roof tiles you don't want.

The game ends at the end of the 4th round. You score points for your remaining coins, fish cards, and building cards.

The Review


Played prior to review 6x






1. Beautiful
Burano doesn't look like many other heavy strategy games. It's pretty, colorful, and inviting. The pastel cube towers you build over the course of the game are chunky and harmoniously colored and will draw even the most casual of players over for a look. And this might be one of Burano's problems. It looks significantly lighter than it is. Don't be fooled by its pastel marshmallow exterior, this game has a heart of stone!

2. Unique and intensely satisfying 3-dimensional element
Burano is based on an action cube system. You use these action cubes to build a pretty action cube pyramid and then place the action cubes on the common city board to take actions and build up the buildings in the city. The 3-dimensional aspects of Burano are unique and incredibly satisfying, particularly when you have played a few times and have become adept at optimizing the arrangement of your action cubes in your pyramid.

I'll address the strategic and decision-making implications of the action cube system below, but my point here is that the 3-dimensional elements create a tactile experience that is both pleasing to the eyes, fingers, and brain, as it forces you to think in ways few other games do.

3. Dual nature of action cubes is captivating
I love the tension of building your action cube pyramid and laying the action cubes on the city board that is generated by the "multi-use" cube system! Because the colors of your action cubes determine both which actions you can perform and how the city will form, you have to consider both the actions you want to take and the roof tiles you have at your disposal when determining how to construct your cube pyramid in the first part of each round. And if you are planning to make lace during the round and collect some ladies using your action cubes at the end of the round, you have to take care to ensure you will be able to access the colors of cubes you need to do that at the end of the round. And, of course, you will have to consider the arrangement of the workers on your schedule ring as well...

4. The schedule wheel is super cool!
The schedule wheel may be as cool as the dual-purpose action cubes! I love trying to plan the perfect order in which to execute my actions based on my ability to form color matches between my schedule wheel and huts on neighboring islands and contiguous lace workshop spaces. I love trying to determine which roof tiles to take depending on my uncovered fountains and I love optimally timing the earning action to ensure I gain the most money I can. Of course, it isn't always possible to make the most of every action using your schedule ring. You may need money to perform other actions, so you may end up taking a smaller sum than you could otherwise. You may need to ensure that you hit the lace workshop before your opponent can stake his claim there and block you. But whether you make the most of each action or not, it's always satisfying to work out the perfect order in your mind when building your pyramid. The action cube pyramid and schedule wheel interact in a very satisfying way in this respect.

5. Different strategies to explore
Burano presents you with several different strategies and combinations of strategies to explore. You can follow the fishing path, trying to retain majorities in the neighboring islands, collecting fish, and trading those fish in for points and using neighboring island majority roof bonuses to gain extra points. You can follow the lace path, trying to create strings of ladies in the workshops. And you can make yourself into a master builder, roofing everything in the city! You will have to do all these things to a certain extent. Particularly when playing with only two players, you will have to ensure that you don't allow your opponent to run away with any aspect of the game due to the majority scoring aspects.

6. High replay value
In most of the above points, I emphasized the way Burano changes and grows with experience. I will just emphasize that once more in this point. Burano is a game that warrants repeat sessions to become proficient with manipulating its systems. You simply won't be able to optimally plan your actions based on your schedule wheel, action cube colors, and roof tiles in your first game. And when you become proficient with these aspects of the game, you can spend numerous sessions exploring to which extent you should push certain strategies.

And beyond that intrinsic replay value, Burano provides numerous aspects of randomized setup and round-by-round upkeep. You have a variable schedule wheel, random assortment of building cards, random arrangement of lace workshops, random arrangement of huts on neighboring islands, random availability of building and fish cards, and random associations between action cube colors and actions. All these factors ensure you will face a different puzzle in each game and each round!

7. Scales down well
I have played Burano with 2 and 3 players and enjoyed it equally at both counts. The developers clearly spent time and effort on ensuring that various aspects of the game worked properly when playing with every player count. When playing with 2 players, there are fewer workshop spaces, which generates more competition for these few spaces between players and fewer points can be gained for having neighboring island majorities in order to account for the fact that this is easier to accomplish with fewer players. This is enough to ensure that the 2-player game feels just as challenging as the 3-player version. I can't speak to the 4-player count, but I do think that the increase in play time and chaos generated by that many players would not appeal to me personally.



soblue


soblue 1. Fiddly setup and teardown
There are so many little chits and pieces to set up that the process can be a little daunting, particularly initially. Once you become familiar with the game, it isn't terribly difficult or time consuming to set the game up, but it can be annoying for one person to handle. We split the task, so it works .

soblue 2. Some building cards appear to be better than others
I won't say that the building cards are imbalanced because I haven't played Burano a hundred times, but I will say that some appear to be better than others. Cards that provide points for roofing cubes of certain colors and the card that provides 3 points for each other building card seem to provide the most VP-income potential, while the cards that simply allow you to ignore certain cube colors in future roofing actions don't seem nearly as useful. It isn't too difficult to create the correct combinations of cube colors to roof, so the ability to ignore certain cube colors is not nearly as attractive as any ability that allows you to gain VP.

soblue 3. The game doesn't feel all that cohesive as a whole
Much like many Feld games, Burano doesn't really come together to form a cohesive whole. Burano most reminds me (and I've heard others express the same sentiment) of Stefan Feld's Trajan. As in Trajan, in Burano, you will feel like you are playing multiple mini games that don't have much to do with each other. As with Trajan's mancala, the various actions in Burano only really come together on the worker wheel and that isn't really enough to bring them together in a meaningful way. If you are someone who loves an economical and thematic design, Burano may disappoint. I'm not one of those people, so I'm happy with it .

soblue 4. Randomness of building tiles feels a little off
Burano looks like a strategic game. And in many respects, it is a highly strategic game. However, the fact that building tiles are face down and drawn randomly means that a player can fall ass backwards into the perfect color combination and immediately roof a set of action cubes on the board without even trying, while another may struggle to get the right combination of tile colors to place his tiles.

Another consequence of the randomly colored roof tiles is that some of the building cards can be more or less powerful depending on which roof tiles you draw. For example, if you take a building card that gives you 5 points every time you place a white/pink roof and you don't draw a white/pink roof for the rest of the game (or only do so once or twice), too bad. Alternatively, if you take that same building card and keep drawing white/pink roof tiles for the rest of the game, yay! That doesn't feel all that satisfying in a strategy game.

All that said, Burano has yet to make me frustrated or angry as a result of this randomness, so it may not be as big of a deal as it seems.

soblue 5. Little sense of progress
Aside from the growth of the city board, there is little sense of buildup or evolution in Burano. You don't really become more powerful over the course of the game and there is little to distinguish each round from the next in any meaningful way. Yes, you will face different puzzles to solve in terms of organizing your action cubes to deal with the situation you are facing, but the general nature of those puzzles will be the same each round.

soblue 6. Inconsistency in graphics
There is a small inconsistency in the icon for the lace making action and that for the lace making bonus roof tile. A female is shown on the action and a male on the roof tile. This makes it easy to confuse the lace making roof tiles with the neighboring island roof tiles, particularly when first learning the game. It isn't a big deal because you get used to it, but it's a somewhat irritating inconsistency.

soblue 7. Demands commitment from players
This is a positive, but also a negative point for Burano. Burano is not a game that will click for everyone at first and it really demands a number of plays to become able to wade through the randomness with intent and to become able to mold the game to effectively execute your bidding. As such, some people may dismiss it offhand for being impenetrable or random or imbalanced.

Final Word


Burano is far from perfect, and yet I LOVE it. Reminiscent of Feld's contemporary classics and Trajan in particular, Burano creates a system that demands strategic planning, but also encourages players to remain flexible. Though somewhat perplexing and seemingly Frankenstein-y at first, the system starts to come together and become increasingly malleable over repeat plays. One of my greatest joys in this game has been learning how to effectively manipulate my action cube pyramid, find the balance between the fishing and lace making actions in order to be the creator of my worker wheel, and optimally capitalize on the board situation at the same time! I think that Burano appears to be an overwrought impenetrable fortress at first and this may turn players off after a single play or two. But I also think it's a game that rewards repeat visits like few others. Pushing through that fortress is intensely satisfying and watching yourself grow to be able to manipulate the various levers in the game is fun!

Burano is a deceptive game; it looks like a happy, colorful family-friendly light-weight romp through a Venetian vaction. It is not. It is a heavy game of clever planning and tactical maneuvering. It isn't perfect and won't appeal to everyone, but it appeals to me!

MINA'S LOVE METER heart heart heart heart LOTS OF LOVE




***


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Mina's Love Meter


angry Burn it! - I dislike this game so much that it makes me angry. (I rate these 4 or less on the BGG scale)
Dislike - I don't like this game, but I can see why others like it.
(5 on BGG scale)
heart Some like - I find this game somewhat appealing, but it doesn't really grab me. I am glad to have had the opportunity to try this game, but it is unlikely to stay in my collection for very long.
(5.5 to 6.5) on BGG scale)
heart heart Like - I like this game and appreciate the design. I am happy to play this game occasionally when the mood strikes and enjoy doing so.
(7 to 7.5 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart Some love - I love this game. It's not perfect, but it really appeals to me and I will play it frequently.
(7.5 to 8 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart heart Lots of love - I really love this game. The design really speaks to me. I want to play it most of the time.
(8 to 9 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart heart heart All love all the time - I ADORE this game and can see myself playing it many times and for many years. I would go to sleep clutching it in my arms and want to play it all day every day...only not literally because that would be insane.
(9 to 10 on BGG scale)



To see my other reviews, visit this geeklist.



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Bart Quicho
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Thanks for another great review, Mina! This has been in the shopping cart for the past month, and I just may pull the trigger at any moment.

You and a few others have likened it to Trajan which I liked, but I just could not wrap my head around the mancala mechanic as well as my wife could. Do you find Burano's action cube pyramid and schedule wheel a little more manageable?
 
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Philip Mazzone
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My gf and I picked this up a couple weeks ago. The learning process was a bit tough, with so many different aspects to consider and several small rules not represented on the player boards (i had to make myself a cheat sheet). But it certainly looks great on the table, and we like it. Id say a 7.5 out of 10.
 
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Your Friendly Neighborhood Hairfarmer
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Milena,

Great review. This is my wife's favorite new game. She has requested playing it on several occasions, which is not an everyday occurrence.


Keep up the great reviews! thumbsup

(edit spelling)
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Robert Manore
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Warlord beats Troll, Troll beats Elf, Elf beats Water Sprite, and basically everything else beats Enchanted Bunny.
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Great review!

milenaguberinic wrote:

soblue 2. Some building cards appear to be better than others
I won't say that the building cards are imbalanced because I haven't played Burano a hundred times, but I will say that some appear to be better than others. Cards that provide points for roofing cubes of certain colors and the card that provides 3 points for each other building card seem to provide the most VP-income potential, while the cards that simply allow you to ignore certain cube colors in future roofing actions don't seem nearly as useful. It isn't too difficult to create the correct combinations of cube colors to roof, so the ability to ignore certain cube colors is not nearly as attractive as any ability that allows you to gain VP.

soblue 4. Randomness of building tiles feels a little off
Burano looks like a strategic game. And in many respects, it is a highly strategic game. However, the fact that building tiles are face down and drawn randomly means that a player can fall ass backwards into the perfect color combination and immediately roof a set of action cubes on the board without even trying, while another may struggle to get the right combination of tile colors to place his tiles.


I would agree with these points. My wife and I played this game twice last night and during our second session I scored 28 end of game points with 4 building cards, which is "a lot" in this game. Final score was 140 to 102.

My wife got a bit of tunnel vision during that second session and admitted that she forgot to stay on top of the building cards, which allowed me to get some really good ones. However, we did discuss that players need to keep watch of opponent's roof tile combinations. One needs to place cubes on the main board in a way that does not help their opponent(s). My wife stole a couple cubes on the board from me when I wasn't paying attention; i.e., I should have placed the blue cube rather than the green cube for my blue/green roof tile. She was able to use the blue cube for her blue/white roof tile. If I had played the green cube, she would not have been able to steal it. Same goes for fishing and using privilege to rearrange colored fishing huts so others do not benefit easily as well.

So to return to your #2 comment, players need to ensure that the more powerful building cards get spread out and not allow a single player to take them.

As far as your #4 comment, the only way to mitigate a bad roof tile draw is you are allowed to discard any number of roof tiles on your player board before drawing new ones during the clean-up phase. I personally make sure to discard all roof tiles from a previous round and draw 3 new roof tiles. I recall my wife retaining a double blue from one of the non 4 VP stacks and she drew from the 4 VP stack to only discover it too was a double blue. Discarding all my unused roof tiles from a previous season seem to help me a bit better than keeping one or two tiles.
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