Recommend
13 
 Thumb up
 Hide
8 Posts

Brass: Lancashire» Forums » Sessions

Subject: First Game of Brass, with 3 rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Andrew E
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
flag msg tools
I sat down last night with two friends (who are probably the core of my gaming group) and with the sole intent of learning to play Brass. Brass was a birthday gift to myself several months ago, but a combination of work (I just dropped my workweek from 90 to 50 hours per week) and a plethora of other games to play delayed it until now.

My initial concerns were:

1) That it would be overly fiddly (such as "Twilight Struggle", or even "Agricola").

2) That it would be overly complex (the rulebook isn't the most friendly, and given my stance as a kinesthetic learner, I hadn't yet had the chance to sit down and give it a practice run to internalize the rules).

3) That it would be unapproachable for the others in the game group (whose tastes run much closer to "Kingsburg" than they do "Caylus").

The session itself was laid-back and friendly (as all of our gaming sessions are), with this being an experimental game (as most first playthroughs should be). We used the rules supplements found on BGG to help streamline our learning.

There were a few instances of AP, but nothing too bad. I suspect that the learning flow of "Brass" is similar to "Race for the Galaxy", in that play generally starts with a sort of solipsistic internal focus as each player gets their economy going, which transitions into an awareness of other players and anticipation of their plays. Presumably, this means that more playthroughs will help to reduce AP pretty substantially.

(Also: the few minutes between turns (assuming one plays at a leisurely pace) significantly decrease AP; I usually entered my turn with 3 actions I wanted to carry out, which were usually ranked in some sort of order, and hoped that no more than one of those would be usurped by my opponents).

At the game's end (the results of which seemed to indicate that the shipyards were the primary difference maker in this particular playthrough), we were all in agreement that it was very satisfying to play. I'd like to play both 2 and 4-person games before making my final estimation, but I found "Brass" to be almost as satisfying as "Caylus", and more satisfying than most other games I've played.

The reasons for this satisfaction:

1) The game's complexity seems to derive from the interactions between several pretty simple mechanics. The mechanics themselves are pretty simple, and much more accessible and easy to remember than I was expecting.

Even though the rulebook is a bit less than approachable on first blush, "Brass" is not too hard to figure out with some conscientious experimentation and perhaps a bit of note-taking (if, like me, you have a hard time internalizing rules based on just hearing/reading them).

2) There's almost never a lack of interesting/meaningful decisions to make. If there are resources on the board, they can be used, and if there are not resources on the board, well, that is work-around-able too.

3) The deliberate pace of the game puts it on a timer. There aren't any surprise checkmates where one person manages to pull off a victory the turn before the next player was going to take everything in one fell swoop (I'm looking at you, "Power Grid"!).

4)
After playing, all of my concerns were adequately addressed. The complexity was overstated, and the fiddliness of the bits was much less than expected, as once cardboard is laid on the board, it's not manipulated much after that. The whole board could still be wiped out by a particularly violent sneeze, but it's not the same as it might be in "Twilight Struggle" or "Pandemic".

The game is still probably a little too intense for some of the gamers in my group, but there are 4 of us who would probably enjoy it.

While it's too early for me to really discuss the merits of "Brass" with any amount of authority (one playthrough doth not a review make), I'm looking forward to playing it again, as are the two with whom I played it.
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Seth
United States
Colorado
flag msg tools
Snake? What happened? Snake! Snaaaaaake!
badge
Your eyebrows won't save you now.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is one of the best written `first impressions' I've read when it comes to this game.

Andrew_C_E wrote:
I suspect that the learning flow of "Brass" is similar to "Race for the Galaxy", in that play generally starts with a sort of solipsistic internal focus as each player gets their economy going, which transitions into an awareness of other players and anticipation of their plays. Presumably, this means that more playthroughs will help to reduce AP pretty substantially.


I'm uncertain exactly what you meant by this (probably because I'm not a RftG player), so I'm not sure if I'm agreeing or disagreeing with this point.

For the most part AP will diminish as players get better at the hand management aspect of the game. The first half of a game of Brass may outwardly appear internally-focused, but this is far from reality. The canal period will usually make or break you for the remainder of the game. A few of the things you constantly need to be aware of:

(a) Income/loan potential.
(b) Which cities have access to coal.
(c) How much developing costs you/your opponents.

The first of these is probably the least important (arguable since I'm being a bit vague there), and the easiest to learn. The second two are more subtle, but because of them you'll probably come to see this as a game rich with player interaction from the very first turn (with more experience).

A word of warning: the shipyards are a very risky business, and most players decline to get involved in building them in favor of more dependable point-engines such as cotton, iron, and rails.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew E
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
flag msg tools
cylonathalf wrote:
I'm uncertain exactly what you meant by this (probably because I'm not a RftG player), so I'm not sure if I'm agreeing or disagreeing with this point.

....

The first of these is probably the least important (arguable since I'm being a bit vague there), and the easiest to learn. The second two are more subtle, but because of them you'll probably come to see this as a game rich with player interaction from the very first turn (with more experience).


Thanks for the compliments and strategy tips!

What I mean by the comparison with RftG is to say that the first few games of "Race" usually involve the player taking the actions that most directly benefit them that turn, opponents' actions be darned.

In later gameplays, they learn to be more aware of their opponents, and to the natural rhythms of the game, and plan accordingly.

I found that in "Brass", I had a hard time (on the first play) anticipating the needs of my opponents and what they were planning on doing while keeping track of my status as well, so I had a fairly internal focus. There were a few moments where I could anticipate opponent needs (and snared a few VPs out of it), but I couldn't anticipate those situations as well as I think I'll be able to a few play-throughs from now.

Rather than "The start of the game is internal and then it gets external" (which seems to be how you interpreted my statement?), what I mean is to say that the first game or two is probably more internal, with a broadening focus coming with experience and practice.

So, like you said, there's a ton of interaction here, a lot of it subtle, and it'll take some time to learn how to keep track of it all.

What makes shipyards so risky? The ease of getting screwed out of a spot?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Daniel Corban
Canada
Newmarket
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Shipyards are not risky in the sense that you won't be able to build them. Quite the opposite. Assuming that only one player goes for them, and in my recent memory this is the norm, they are virtually guaranteed. The problem is that the planning and resource cost involved will usually net you the same, or sometimes less, VP than simply building rails. One turn of performing two double rail builds can result in at least 24 points while simultaneously giving you important access to build more rails/industries and denying your opponents the same.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew E
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
flag msg tools
Oh... that makes sense. Thanks for explaining this to me. I'm still trying to sift through all the strategy, and it's tough to do without much experience with the game. I suspect that a lot of the reason shipyards were successful as they were in the first game is because none of us are very good yet.

So if shipyards are not as effective as building rails (or other industries), what would you suggest doing with them?

Could they be used as a last-ditch hail mary? Or would even that be a likely misappropriation of resources?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ed Chen

California
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Shipyards can be quite powerful, but the key rests in knowing when to go for them and when to pass on them.

Depending on the quality of rail you score, it's more or less the same number of points per action and even points per pound. The place where shipyards can shine is if you can get exclusive access to them so that you can hold off placing it until round 8, when all the other high points/action and points/pound options have been exhausted.

The downside is you will have to give up some other opportunities to score lots of points while you develop away your lower level shipyards. The upside is it usually doesn't cost a lot, and sometimes you can even work it into an ironworks overwrite.

The key is to go for shipyards at such a point where you aren't passing by other opportunities, and will have good access to them, as well as the cards.

This answer is quite long as it is, and unfortunately a more detailed answer would be even longer. Like many other things, experience will show you both when they are used well as well as not used well.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew E
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
flag msg tools
Thanks for laying that out a bit. I feel like a more technical description would've gone right over my head, so I appreciate how you kept things fairly simple.

The neat thing about this game is that it really seems to be extremely deep and nuanced. I'm looking forward to playing again soon.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Seth
United States
Colorado
flag msg tools
Snake? What happened? Snake! Snaaaaaake!
badge
Your eyebrows won't save you now.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
To add to random user's excellent response, building rails early in the rail period increases the flexibility of your card draw. Expanding your personal network makes industry cards very powerful in the second half as places to build cotton mills diminish.

(You are interested in this regardless of your position in the cotton race, you always want power to influence how the cotton/coal spaces get used.)

Also, every rail you build is a rail your opponents can't build. If you build shipyards early, most of the good rails will be snapped up by other players. The Birkenhead (and to a lesser extent Barrow-In-Furness) shipyard requires that you expend additional pounds building rails that don't score well. (I am of course assuming that no one builds them for you, occassionally an iron-player will connect Barrow-In-Furness.)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.