Tag Archives: abstract

Burano

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

Birdie Fight

A lot of games make their way through the Sweet Lemon office; unfortunately, we can’t try them all.

However, the moment I saw Birdie Fight’s exquisite box art, I knew it had to be one of those lucky games we cracked open.

While the mechanics spring from designer ゆお (Yuo), the immediate star is illustrator ことり寧子 (Kotori Neiko). The pair have worked together on other projects and I’m a big fan of the results.

But is it more than just a charming theme?

That may depend on your tendency to analysis paralysis…

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Theme

Strap yourself in because this gets (moderately) quirky.

There is a place called “mysterious forest” in the depths of the mountain. This is a paradise for small birds. But these small birds don’t get along well!

The players are forest spirits secretly guiding their favored species to victory in the battle of the birds. Also: there’s an owl.

Okay, so there’s not much of a backstory, and this is essentially an abstract game – but the illustrations do carry a charming sense of place.

Because favored species are secret, motivations can seem mysterious and indirect as players delicately nudge the forest in different directions.

If this seems superficial or light… don’t be fooled.

Mechanics

Birds of the mysterious forest come in four species: blue, white, red and green. They’re also ranked in strength from 1-7, making a total of 28 cards.

Ten scoring chips of various values are randomly distributed to form the top and side of an invisible 5X5 grid. These chips represent spoils of war for the bird species that control those columns and rows at the end of the game.

Each turn, players select a card from their hand and play it to the grid. The only exception is the vicious owl, which attacks and replaces a previous card, permanently altering the grid.

The overall visual effect is something like Sudoku, only far prettier.

Play continues until the hands have dwindled to a single card. This final bird determines which species each player scores, revealing and crystallizing motivations for the first time.

Points are carried into the second round, when a final winner is declared.

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Components

28 dainty little birds, each unique and each awash with loving detail, plus the coolest looking owl this side of Twin Peaks?

Yes sir, Birdie Fight sure is beautiful, but there’s a caveat.

Those point chips are horrible: faded colors, bubbled plastic wrap, and random industrial markings stretched across the flip sides.

Okay, they’re literally home made, and such quirks are common for indie games in Japan, but it’s such a shame when everything else is so polished. I mean, the strength values even subtly illustrate life cycles from youth to adulthood and nesting!

It doesn’t ruin the game by any means, but if you have anything else around the house to replace those chips, you’ll want to do it.

What do others think?

Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nothin’.

I haven’t found a single English-language review.

Leave a comment below if you’ve tracked down something elsewhere, otherwise I’ll check periodically to add to this section.

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Conclusion

Let’s be clear: this is a very well designed game.

Birdie Fight takes about a minute to explain and 20 minutes to play. However, a lot of intricacy emerges from these simple rules.

Competitive players will quickly find their brains burning up, while for more casual players it’s a… more casual experience.

This makes Bird Fight a classic couple’s game. The cooperative mode in particular begs for repeated play over the coffee table, rules long-since internalized to the point you barely mention the game itself.

But – every now and then – that high score increases a little.

If only those chips were better!

3.5 red breasted robins out of 5.

Number of players: 1-4

Playing time: 20 mins

Age: 8+

Country: Japan

By: Kocchiya

Price: 24.99€ at NiceGameShop