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Subject: Pure Gold...I mean, Brass! rss

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Kolby Reddish
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I am not what I would call a "casual" gamer, but it's also not the only thing that I do with my free time. I, like most people who read this site, first turned here on a whim, researching a game I wished to purchase, Puerto Rico in fact. But I've been reading reviews here for over a year, and decided it was time that I started reviewing the games in my collection.

I am a 20 year old college Junior, with several good friends and roommates that forms my playing base. While that information may seem unnecessary, I like to know where people are coming from when I read a review from them, so there's a little information about me for you readers.

I own many board games, honestly, my board game collection is one of my most expensive things that I own. I find learning the new strategies and rules behind a game, not only exhilarating, but extremely fun and challenging.

My gateway game was The Settler of Catan, and it led me down the road to my love affair with Euro games. I now have a collection of mostly Euro games, although there are some select war games that are included.

So that's me,

And now we're going to discuss a game that I think is pure gaming gold, Brass.

As a bit of a confession, I didn’t research Brass on BGG. I went to my local game store, where I play sometimes with the owner, and asked him to recommend a game for me. He went through about 8 that I already owned, and then briefly explained Brass. I must admit, I was hooked.

1. The Components
This is one of my favorite games as far as components goes. It comes with some very nice art on the box. My friend thinks the guy on the front looks like a trained monkey, but I personally like the art. It comes with very nice cards, wooden resource cubes, plastic coins, and cardboard chits. The difference between this game and other games that have cardboard chits is the quality of the cardboard chits. Each player has their own set of double sided ports, ships, rails and canals, mills, iron works and coal mines, and each cardboard chit is thick, and has very nice art. The other part of the components that I love is the rulebook. This game is not a simple game, to be quite honest, it’s one of the more difficult games that I’ve played, but the rulebook took that difficult game, explained it concept by concept and made it quite easy to understand.

2. The Theme
This is another game where the theme is built right into the game play. I compare part of this game to Power Grid. In Power Grid, players create demand for resources. In Brass, the mechanics take it a step more complex, and players create supply AND demand. You need iron and coal to build everything that you need. Unless players supply it, the things that require iron or coal cannot be built after the small bank supply has been used up, except for an expensive $5 a resource. This game really does follow the theme.

3. The Concept
The score is based upon victory points, however victory points are much different from victory points in other games. You earn victory points by flipping your industry tiles. You flip tiles by fulfilling different conditions based upon what kind of tile it is. What this means to me, is that the player that is obviously doing the best will win. There are no hidden cards or points, and it’s actually quite difficult to take away another player’s industry counter, which makes it not that confrontational of a game, which is a good thing when you play with your very competitive roommate.

4. The Ending
I’ve got five plays so far on Brass, but each game the first and second player have been within five points of each other. Maybe that’s just because of how we play, but from what I can see, the game is very balanced. Our first game I built coal mines, which for those who’ve played, aren’t really used until the second round of play. So while my score was low in the first round, I had a lot of points the second round because of all of the coal mines that I had built up already. Essentially, there are a few different strategies to try, and each of them seemed to work out to a similar score in the end of the games that we played.

5. The Game play
Like I’ve already discussed, in Brass, you build different industry tiles, then attempt to flip them by fulfilling the different things that you need to do depending upon what type of tile that it is. You use cards to build the counters or to build connections to the counters. Building new counters over the top of old counters is a mistake that cost me one of the first games we played. Each tile will only give you points if you control it at a scoring, which only comes at the end of each era. There are only two eras, so you essentially want to maximize your points by flipping as many tiles and you can and leaving them flipped. Sometimes you need to build new tiles over the top simply because you don’t have any other options.

6. Replayability
This is a deeper strategy games. It is only played with 3-4. In my opinion a 3 player game is much shorter, simply because this game is prone to analysis paralysis because of how deep the strategy can be. Reducing the number of people stuck on AP will obviously cut the game shorter. People probably wonder why I put game length under the replayability section of my reviews, and honestly it is because a game that takes much longer than 3 hours, just won’t hit my gaming table very often, just because I’m part of the iPod generation, and it’s hard for me to focus on any one thing for that long of a period of time. The cards that you draw, as well as the other player’s cards, will change the game completely.

7. The "Luck" Factor
In this game, you perform your actions by discarding one of your eight cards. The cards you have determine what actions you can perform. The nice thing is that only building industry tiles, which is only one of four actions, is limited by what card you discard. Therefore, this hand of eight cards will rarely, if ever, not let you do just what you want. Therefore, while luck is involved in what cards you have, it doesn’t seem to be a deciding factor in the game at all.

Conclusions:
Brass is honestly one of the best-designed games I’ve ever played. It has so many well designed and well oiled mechanics that it functions just like a well oiled machine from the era that it derives it’s theme.

As my title of the review says, Martin Wallace truly deserves Gold for his development of Brass.

Please include any thoughts about the review,

and as always, Thank you for reading!

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Andrew Smith
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Great review, thank you.

FYI I occasionally play this two player. Each person gets two colours which act independently and have separate money etc. But it does make it interesting as you can use 1 side to develop more perhaps on the shipping side and the other on the cotton, and then ship via the team mate. Highest total VP wins.

It works really well.

There are alternate 2P variants out there involving taking out cards and not using some locations. I expect they work but that sounds a bit messy.

Andrew
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Kolby Reddish
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Ya thanks for the tips on 2 player variants. It sounds like you could use the same variant I used to use for Puerto Rico, where you play two players and score your lowest one.
 
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Seth Jaffee
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reddish22 wrote:
In Brass, the mechanics take it a step more complex, and players create supply AND demand. You need iron and coal to build everything that you need. Unless players supply it, the things that require iron or coal cannot be built after the small bank supply has been used up.

Minor point: You can always buy Coal or Iron for $5 if the market is empty.

I agree with your assessment - Brass is a great game!
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Kolby Reddish
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That is a very good rule that I forgot!

Thank you for pointing that out.
 
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John Brodin
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You can also play online at:
http://wargamessoc.union.shef.ac.uk/brass/index.php

It is turn based so you can play over a couple of days and enforces the rules for you. Highly recommended.

Face to face is better but this is a good way to get a lot of plays in between -- I have about 6 games going on right now.
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Peter Mumford
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reddish22 wrote:
Sometimes you need to build new tiles over the top simply because you don’t have any other options.


Stomping on you opponents' iron or coal tiles when the market is depleted is one of the most effective, nasty and satisfying plays in the game. It is usually worth buying up the last, expensive cubes to create the opportunity.

Conversely, one has to protect oneself from getting stomped on, especially if you are leading in points.
 
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Kolby Reddish
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Yes that is a true way to grab some extra points, and I mention it in the review, it's a little difficult to do.
 
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Henri Harju
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reddish22 wrote:
Yes that is a true way to grab some extra points, and I mention it in the review, it's a little difficult to do.


Not really, it happens usually 2-3 times during a game. In fact, it happens so consistently on-line that I sometimes forego an opportunity to build (to a free space) just so I can do it later (overbuild), once I have identified my biggest opponent.

And it's fun.
 
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BJ
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You are full of poisonous refuse and insane foolishness.
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I had not supposed or expected your arrogant spirit to seek such a ridiculous and childish reason for lying; you should have better reasons.
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Great review!

You're making it more difficult for me to not buy this game angry!
 
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Wade Broadhead
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I guess its an ok review. It doesnt have 46 pages of pictures, but not too bad.
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Alan Goodrich
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battlepuppy wrote:
There are alternate 2P variants out there involving taking out cards and not using some locations. I expect they work but that sounds a bit messy.


We play this variant all the time - a slightly different setup, no cards for about 6 of the far southern/eastern cities, and reduced amounts of the other cards. (Here's the link to the full rules; we've always done fine without the canal link to Scotland.)

This is not messy at all and is by far the best 2 player variant of any game I own. It works well enough, and requires so little adjustment, that the game could easily say 2-4 on the box.
 
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Kolby Reddish
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Yes it can happen, but it's not going to be happening every turn is the point I like to make, especially with newer players.

If you're thinking of getting this game, I obviously, really recommend it. It's a great buy, even if it is a bit spendy.

Thanks for the tips on 2p variants, I never seem to have a shortage of players for a 4p game, it's actually quite the opposite, we don't get to play this as much because of the lower player number.
 
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ozgur ozubek
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Quote:
It comes with some very nice art on the box.


the quality of the box is appalling. on the very moment I opened the box, the sideline of the bottom box just tore apart.sidelines has to be reinforced for not to have bad moments and missing pieces.

 
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