I took the liberty and transcribed the cliquenabend.de Opera video (where the designer Hans van Tol explains the rules of the game and shows sample moves) to english.
It is not a word-to-word transcription, but 98% of the said text is in there. I ommited some blurry passages and unclear phrases/sentences (but nothing what would concern the game itself). I think there are a few passages where I myself was a bit lost, but there are only handful and I think they do not concern the core game things. Maybe then the designer can explain any shady areas.
Thx to the posters for the respective images!
"Welcome to the Opera!
The game is about fame and power. The goal is to get the most Victory points and the game itself is played over 9 Rounds.
What we do in the first place is to shuffle these a bit (the composer tiles). I take 3 of them. There are 6 composers in the game and in every Episode (the game encompasses 300 years of opera - the Baroque, the Classical and the Romantic periods) there is one of the composers who is the most famous.
What is quite intriguing about the game is the play order. It is not performed clockwise, but by using the Budget table. At the start of the game the players bid up to 10 in money. Should I explain it all? Ok, everyone starts with 20 money (handing over). And everyone hides his money behind his screen, which is important for the bidding process. And everyone starts with a Building in Venezia and one Piece of music (this is yet a prototype, it will look nicer). The "0" on the Music piece means that the composer of the music piece is not famous, but he has written one and this Music piece will only bring money, not Fame or Victory points.
Everyone has this and what we do now is we decide the Starting player - Red (oh, that's me). We put the coloured player pieces onto the bottom row of the Budget table (from the starting player clockwise, which is not important for now), we do this only now. I get 20 money, the second player +1, the third +2 and the third +3.
Now we need to bid for the Budget table and we will decide how much money will be used for these six Roles, which have different purposes. These are actualy Actions that a player can make. But this is not so easy to explain what to bid on, because there are two things:
- they have to be paid
- and it also involves power
The player with the highest bid on the table has the Initiative, he begins. And the others can then co-play, this way the game goes on. Ich will explain the six Roles and will play them immediately so that you have a clue how the game works. As you wish..."
Q: "The easier way to explain is fine"
"Yes, then you have an idea how it works. Every player starts with a bid in his hand...
Wait, I forgot to add some Music pieces, which you can buy in this Round and it is important that the pieces are more expensive the higher their artist is placed. On the top they are worth 6 and on the bottom they are only worth 1. But the Wagner is now the most famous composer. I will now add 9 Music pieces to their respective composers (randomly chosen from the face-down pool). There can be at most 3 pieces on a composer at any time.
Ok, we have done this and we can bid, at most 10. I suggest to bid at least 5, because otherwise you quite have no chance to do anything in the first Round. Later you already know how it all works so you can decide for yourselves. So we bid now.
When you go for the pure power, you bid 10. When you are a bit more economic and want to be more efficient, then you would probably bid 5 or 6. But there are more things to consider.
(all players secretly bid and hold their closed hands over the table)
So, everyone 7? The Red goes first, 8, the others are all 7, so the Blue goes second, the Green third and the Yellow fourth (this is the order from the beginning of the game as they have all bid equally; Red is on row 8, others on row 7).
And now it is my turn, as I bid the most and am at the highest row. What I can do is to choose the Architect. With him I can build Buildings. Now there are only Buildings available in Venezia, Wien and Berlin, because it is the Baroque period and only these are open for now.
I take the Architecto and he costs me 2 rows on the Budget table. I move 2 down. Now I can build/purchase 2 Buildings, for instance I will buy..."
Q: "They cost the same?"
"They cost 2 per house. So if I wanted to build a wing in Venezia, it costs me 2. And for instance I also build in Wien with 2 halls, which costs me 4. Together I pay 6 money and I get 6 Victory points (each hall costs 2 money and brings you 2 Victory points). Now the other players can use the Architecto, for instance the Blue player.
He can play along and he can say he wants to buy 2 Buildings, 1 Building or he can pass. When he for instance builds 2 Buildings, he will be under the Red player again on the Budget table. If he buils 1 Building, he is still behing the Red player (on the next spot to the right). But when he passes... This is interesting to say that in the beginning players should generally build, but they can also manipulate. When everybody played the Architecto then who is the next starting player, can choose the next role. So for instance the Blue player builds 2.
All the names are in italian."
Q: "What do the numbers mean? (on the buildings - 3 on Venezia Buildings)"
"They mean that there can be at most 3 in Venezia. So there are 3 halls in Venezia, that is the maximum. In Berlin there are at most 3, in Wien at most 4."
Q: "So you cannot build the same numbers."
"No. And later when we are in Classical and in Romantism, there will be new Buildings coming, for instance Paris can have 5 halls and Milan 6 halls. This gets you more money and maybe also more Victory points."
Q: "But a player does not need to start with a "1", or?"
"On the contrary, the player needs to start with a "1" in a city. Yes, that costs 4 and gets you 4 Victory points. And now Green goes. I will explain yet a bit more why to concentrate? Ok. If you concentrate, you can get more money. Here you have a Income table (on the player screens) and if you have more Buildings in a city and puts more Music pieces on them, he gains more money. So with 2 pieces a player gets 3 money and with only 1 piece he gets only 1 money. So it goes progressively higher. Because of that the bigger Buildings are more interesting.
So concentrating is interesting, but later I will also explain that the spreading is important for the points. So every player should decide what to do."
(a player is buying a Building in Wien)
"Something nice in Wien... 4 and for instance you have bought only one Building, therefore you have more Initiative."
Q: "Does it make sense to not to build at the start of the game?"
"Sometimes. This is a counter-strategy. No building is only interesting if you will... It is not so easy to explain just now... You can do it."
Q: "I go completely for Venezia, I take 2."
"And it costs 4. And you both have 4 points. Ok? The player pieces on the Budget table are flipped face-up and we see who has an action to perform. And what do we see? The Red is first again. Because I have voted more. If it would be more closer, I would not have had a chance to play a second role. I play the roles now only to explain them and now I take the Impressario.
This is a logical step, but you can take any one next. The Impressario costs 3, so I move downwards on the Budget table and I can now buy 2 Music pieces. They cost the amount of Fame of their composers, for instance I can buy a Wagner for 6, but I do not have that much money, so I will have to buy something cheaper - a Haendel and a Beethoven. 3+2 is 5, which I pay and now I can organise this a bit (I can plan it all).
Now the Red player finished and the next one goes."
Q: "What do the more expensive Music pieces get you? More money? Wagner would get more money?"
"No. The income is written on the player screens on the Income table. A player cannot put two similar Music pieces in an Opera (a Building). So you need them all to get more income and the Fame ratings will get interesting with playing Esperto, or with one of the 3 Scoring rounds later in the game."
Q: "Do they stay in the opera house?"
"No, when someone (co-)plays the Impressario, they can organise them and even put some of them behind his screen (to hide them). You can also sell them, but that is something different."
Q: "So until the end of the game these Music pieces are mine?"
"Yes, because these are your Buildings and it can be clearly seen. So it is now your turn and you can buy 1, 2 or nothing of course, you can also pass. But right now you need Music pieces, so I would advise to buy some, if you can pay for them."
Q: "Then I for a change will buy a more expensive Music piece..."
"Yes, you have more money."
Q: "Way more money."
"It is interesting, I will explain - with the Signora you can sell them back."
Q: "How many Music pieces can I buy?"
"2. At most 2. No, you need not to buy anything."
Q: "Ok, I buy a Wagner and one Beethoven."
"Wagner is indeed a nice music and a Beethoven for 3. And now you go 2 down on the Budget table, because he bought 2 Music pieces. Now it is your turn (player 2, third in Play order) and you can buy something that is yet available.
Yes, when you buy only 1, you move only one space downwards (on the Budget table). Tactical, yes, this is tactical. And how much will you choose? (player 4, fourth) One Monteverdi, yes 7 and 2 steps down.
And now Green player goes and I will explain what we still have here. The system is quite clear now. Signora - with her a player can sell one Music piece to Palazzo and he gets the Fame x2 in money back. So a short description - money. So if you (player 3) sell your Wagner now, you would move 2 down on the Budget table, but you would get 12 money for it. But you do not have the Music piece anymore. So you get 12... Do you want to do it to get the idea?"
Q: "So when I take the Signora, I have to pay 2 for her?"
"Yes, 2 spaces on the Budget table. And now other players can use the Signora and sell one Music piece (with the Signora only one). Yes, Monteverdi is now worth 5, so interesting. You can sell it to the Palazzo and you get 10 money."
Q: "Is it also forbidden to sell two similar Music pieces here, so I could not sell a similar one to those two?"
"Yes, correct. When the Palazzo is full at the end of the Round, it is emptied and when it is not full, but we are at the end of the third Round, it is also emptied.
The Red player has his turn (me) and he can sell something, but it would bring only 5 or 6, so I say I pass. And the Yellow passes also. So we now turn the player pieces on the Budget table and I am first again.
I know what I will do - I will play the Maestro. The Maestro doubles the income in a city. So for instance I have two Buildings in Wien, so I will play Maestro - it costs 2, I move 2 steps down on the Budget table and I place the white pawn on Wien. This means at the end of this round when we get income this will be doubled in Wien - because you do not have so much in Wien, it is interesting.
We do not turn the player pieces on the Budget table, because these three roles are Characters - only one player can send them to a city."
Q: "Now I have a choice between these two options. Do they also double the income or what else do they do?"
"No, they do something different. The Critico changes the position of one of the Composers on the Fame track by max. +/-2. For instance when I have many Mozart pieces, I could play the Critico, I place him on a city where Mozart is performed, because otherwise the Critico could not do anything. I take Mozart and move him two ranks up. This is what Critico does.
And the blue one - the Esperto - brings points. When you for instance would have these in Venezia (Music pieces on Buildings) and you would play the Esperto (which costs 4 on the Budget track), now all your Music pieces in a theater in a city will become points. And you check the Fame ratings, here together 13 points, which results in a forward movement on the Budget table."
Q: "I could not choose it right now, because I do not have enough points to pay for it, I only have 3."
"Yes. But in later rounds these will become more and more interesting."
Q: "And in one city only two Characters can be placed?"
"Yes and these other cities are not yet active, they come later (London, Paris and Milano also), but it is important that the Esperto can bring many points. But to break the power we have the system, where when you play you have to put the Character in a different city. For instance if someone has 6 halls in Milano with many nice Music pieces, he can never put the same Character two times in a row into it (the Role)."
Q: "So the roles stay here on the cities to show that."
"Yes, they stay there until the end of the round. The rounds reach into themselves (? - a weird sentence, am not sure what to make of it...). Because when someone says "I pass" early, he has the Initiative in the next Round. And when you bid the highest in the beginning, you go first. Also it is important that you can do anything, but you have to think hard about it how to make it, because everyhing costs you something and you have to decide if you want to do it or not."
Q: "Can we make an example of the end of the round so that we can see how it flows?"
Q: "So I play this one here..."
"Yes, the Critico."
Q: "And put the orange composer upwards. Or the red one, but I am the only one with the orange one's Music pieces. I take orange."
"Ok, he goes upwards. Your playing piece goes down 3 rows. Now the Round is ended as 4 is too much and no one can do anything. When someone could yet do something and it would be like this (one pawn is high above the other), he can say that he does not wish to do anything, he can not participate in the other character's actions.
Ok, end of the Round. Now the players get the income. This is calculated from the Income Table. 1 point from Venezia for player 2 (1 Music piece). Player 2 has 2x 1 Music piece, so 2 points. Player 3 has done it right, 3 Music pieces in one Building, so he gets 5 money and I get... Oh, in Wien there is a Maestro, so player 2 gets another 1 money for that Building. And I get 2x3=6 plus 1 equals 7. The money is needed for the next Round of course and we will bid."
Q: "Why 2x3?"
"Wien, this is 2 Music pieces, which gets me 3 money and with the Maestro in Wien this is doubled."
Q: "So now we bid for the next Round?"
"We have yet to determine which composer is the most famous, whose pieces are played the most. There is 2x Haendel, 2x Beethoven, these go up, and Mozart goes down. Then we proceed to the next Round and what you have behind your shields, you can bid.
Not so much methinks. And there you have to decide what you want to do, because the unused Music Pieces go out and new ones are brought to the board. And you need enough money to buy them. The Characters go back to their positions and the pawns remain in the cities."
Q: "And the next two rounds follow the same path and in the fourth round something special happens?"
"Yes exactly. In the fourth Round the Scoring takes place (the fourth and eighth Rounds hold the intermediate Scoring and the last Round the final Scoring) and the Music pieces in the red Buildings (this is yet the prototype) are scored. All the Music pieces that are in those Buildings get points related to the Fame of their Composers. For instance I have here (normally I would organize this differently) 1 Beethoven in Venezia for 4 and one Haendel for 3. That means 7 points for me, shown on the Scoring track. In this game in the fourth Round the Wagner is +1 point (so 6), in the eighth Round Monteverdi +2 points (maybe 8, but that oughta change yet) and in the last Round Beethoven is currently +3.
And when the last Scoring Round finished the game is over. The game moves progressively in Point score so it is quite tense."
Q: "And when are the new Building uncovered?"
"When you come to the first Scoring, Paris and London come into play. There the Buildings are larger and you can get more money from them. And in the last phase Milano comes into play. There are not enough Buildings for everyone, which is important. Therefore the Initiative is important in the game. For the Impressario you want to buy the most expensive or the cheapest Music pieces. For the Architecto you need to buy the Buildings that are yet available and with the Signora you cannot sell the same Music pieces.
So everytime you quite want to play all of the roles, they are quite interactive and interesting."
Q: "And in the second and third phase the spots on the game board become available for placing the Characters. And these were all the rules of the game?"
"Yes and yes. I think these were quite all the rules of the game, but you need to play it to get a good feel for everything. At Spiel we will have a podium with a red carpet."
Q: "How long does the game take with 4 players for instance?"
"With 4 it takes around 2 hours, maybe a little bit longer for the first game. With 3 players 1.5 hours and you can also play it quite well with 2 players. It is a little bit harder, but every time you can find new things in the game."
Q: "How much will it cost? Is this already set?"
"I would say as Cuba, but this would be a question for the publisher for Germany (Hutter Trade), but quite in the same category. The illustrations are from Volkan Baga and they are very nice. This looks almost complete but some small changes and additions will yet be done and it will look even nicer."
Q: "Was it named Opera from the beginning?"
"Yes, we started 2.5 years ago with the basic ideas and of course we did not work on it the whole time. It is quite balanced also for casual players, as they are given equal chances."
Q: "I would like to thank you for the explanation!"
"You are welcome!"
we will decide how much money will be used for these six Roles, which have different purposes. These are actualy Actions that a player can make.
Actually, every rol from every game since Puerto Rico is indeed just an action