After reviewing a few lighter games, I thought it was time for something weightier.

Designed by Yu Chen Tseng and Eros Lin, and released by Taiwan’s EmperorS4 Technology, Burano is that weighty game in every sense.

At 2.3 kilograms, the box includes:

  • 1 rules book
  • 1 action board
  • 48 roof tiles
  • 1 main island board
  • 18 dock houses
  • 4 season markers
  • 120 cube houses
  • 12 lace workshops
  • 6 action color markers
  • 1 round marker
  • 4 merchant ships
  • 33 coins
  • 48 fish cards
  • 16 building cards
  • 4 player boards
  • 16 schedule ring pieces
  • 52 worker tokens
  • 1 starting player marker
  • 4 time wheels
  • 4 fishing boat tokens

So heat up that pizza and pour yourself a tiny cup of strong coffee. We’re going to Italy!

Theme

Burano is a ‘colored island of lace‘ in the Venetian Lagoon.

During the Middle Ages, the city’s men spent long seasons fishing on the outer islands while their wives skillfully repaired nets at home. Those expert fingers turned to making lace, which became famous across Europe.

From the rules:

Making a good living and making Burano become world famous, you have to figure out how to organize family members to their suitable work. It depends on you to earn the glory for your family and lead them to be outstanding from other families.

So the menfolk head to the fish traders and outer islands, while the womenfolk work at the lace factory (with pleasingly higher incomes if they form a union).

In carrying out these actions, the players collectively construct a multicolored and multilevel display of wealth – the city of Burano.

Mechanics

As the above suggests, Burano is a Euro-style worker placement game.

Actions are somewhat-programmed at the beginning of each round using an innovative if slightly baffling ‘cube pyramid’ system. Every turn, only exterior blocks from each player’s pyramid of colored cubes can be added to the city board and thereby trigger events.

This is a difficult moment for those prone to analysis paralysis, so the rules suggest a 60-second timer.

Surrounding this central mechanic is a series of interlocking subsystems, each presenting its own problems and rewards without overshadowing the other parts. The puzzle is constantly in flux: sometimes you’ll need resources, other times area control or even set collection.

Workers are sent from and return to each player’s schedule ring, which rotate throughout the game, constantly shifting the tactical equations being made – sometimes significantly.

Despite a few random elements that could upset the best-laid plans, my hunch is the better player usually wins.

Burano is a hearty meal for serious gamers.

Components

Pictures on a screen don’t reveal just how vibrant Burano looks on the table. With bright colors and acres of cardboard, this is a beautifully welcoming game.

Part of that appeal stems from the 3D elements.

Each player’s cube pyramid is a small monument to their tidiness (or lack thereof, in my case) while the city of Burano rises into the sprawling chaos you’d expect from city planning during the Middle Ages.

Be warned: all that chrome adds to Burano’s set-up and pack time, particularly during the first play. But if popping cardboard is your thing –  which it probably is – opening that box is a joy.

And if the gender stuff seems weird, there’s no mechanical reason you can’t send the women fishing, while the man make lace. They’re literally two sides of the same token.

Same-same!

What do others think?

Burano is rated 6.9 on BoardGameGeek, with positive reviews highlighting the depth behind that colorful facade.

Just a lot of neat things here, and it just feels so meaty and enjoyable. And it’s not meaty for the sake of being meaty – it actually seems to all fit together in a very cohesive whole.

Tom Vasel

 

Burano is a deceptive game; it looks like a happy, colorful, family-friendly romp through a Venetian vacation. It is not. It is a heavy game of clever planning and tactical maneuvering.

Milena Guberinic

 

I loved this game. It was stylish, compelling and engaging in turns.

Angelus Morningstar

Conclusion

Burano is that strange beast – the beautiful Euro.

Don’t be fooled by the bright facade. This is a deep game and it can take a few plays to really understand the strategies.

The raw mechanics, however, are relatively easy to understand, and new players will be up and fishing with a minimum of head-scratching and confusion. For this reason alone I can definitely recommend a ticket to Burano.

4.5 yards of lace out of 5.

Number of players: 2-4

Playing time: 90-120 mins

Age: 12+

Country: Taiwan

By: EmperorS4 Technology

Price: 59.99€ at NiceGameShop