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New South Wales
Originally published here:
Synopsis: You are a Venetian family on the lagoon city of Burano, renowned for its brightly coloured houses. You will draw upon your household to grow your family’s fortunes in the Middle Ages through a combination of lace-making and fishing; the two staples of this village.
The game is won through points. Points can be gathered through a number of different means, including holding majorities of fishermen on neighbouring islands each round, selling lace, selling fish, or building rooftops. You will have scarce few actions in a given round, and you must use each one with care.
There are four rounds of play, the first two (spring and summer) give each player four turns, while the last two (autumn and winter) provide only three. Players will take turns, round-robin style, to perform one of three actions: prepare a house, build a house, or build a roof. However, from these three choices a lot of options flow.
To set up each round, you will create a pyramid of coloured cubes, which will serve as the foundation of choice for your actions. This pyramid determines the order you can access them, which is important in terms of what colours you wish to build and what kind of lace you wish to sell.
When you place a cube onto the main board as your action (building), you also trigger a secondary effect. This is either sending workers to fish, workers to make lace, or sheer profit. Likewise, when you place a roof you earn an additional scoring bonus, which scales according to various conditions you’ve met on the board already.
Commentary: What initially drew me to Burano was the colour. There is something endearing about the visual impact of very colourful cubes slowly stacking up and completed with rooves. I’m a sucker for a game where I can manipulate and play with colour, and this provided a very tactical opportunity within a world of hue.
The game thrives on intricacy. This is not a game with large chugging systems dominate play, but rather small detailed actions have a soft impact. Part of this is the impact of the theme of the game, but a lot of it is borne through the secondary actions come about through building houses. There is a subtle but significant interaction with your home base of workers and sending workers out to fish or make lace.
Everything else about the game was directly straight forward, but the moment you honed in on these secondary parts there was suddenly a lot more detail to your particular game interaction. It created an odd disjuncture where the main flow of the game moved smoothly, but then slowed right down on the fringes to these subsidiary actions. Except, they aren’t secondary, the devil is truly in the details for here on the edges are where your main points engines lie.
In most games, I think this would be a killer, but in this game it is complimented by the theme. It feels like a moment of patience to fish. It feels like the focused attention of lace making. Instead here, these created a welcome juxtaposition of tempo and flavour. This is really a heavish euro game disguised in layers of colour.
Verdict: I loved this game. It was stylish, compelling, and engaging in turns.
Thanks for the kind words, Angelus. We're glad you liked it!