Preview of Murano (Lookout Games)
Designers: Markus and Inka Brand
Publisher: Lookout Games
Advance look at rules graciously provided by Lookout Games. These rules were in Hanno’s native German. I have had to translate them on my own. Any errors, inconsistencies or outright errors are my responsibility entirely.
Story of the Game – Murano is a portion of Venice which is known for its glassblowers. In this game, you try to get the most victory points. (there’s more in the flavor text, but I didn’t translate it. I’m working on a deadline here!) You score victory points from building buildings as well as for holding character cards. At the end of the game, players select which character cards score points.
The board depicts the many small islands of Murano. These islands are connected by bridges in various places. Around the outside of the board are a number of different action spaces, separated by the familiar striped gondola mooring posts.
Setup: Black ships are placed on various spaces on the board. Each player gets 8 gondoliers – though only 2 are available at the start of the game. 5 others are off the board in the supply. (The 8th serves as a marker on the scoretrack) Each player also gets 5 coins to start the game. The bits are shuffled and arranged by type on the board. Be sure not to mix up the glassworks and special building chits as apparently they have the same art on the back. There is a bag filled with 30 glass stones (10 each of red/blue/green)
Gameplay: Pick a starting player; play will go clockwise. On a turn, a player can do an action that he can reach with one of the ships or he can pass.
Doing something: You can perform an action if: a) the space is not occupied by another ship and b) the space can be reached by a ship without having to pass another ship. You are able to move more than one ship per turn – the first ship moves for free, the second ship costs 1 gold, the third ship costs 2 gold, …
Regardless of how many ships you move, you still can only do one action. However, it is legal to move a ship out of a space (that you want to use), and then spend 1 gold to move the next ship in line into this newly vacated space in order to take the action of that space.
If you choose to pass your turn, you get 1 gold from the supply. Then you move a ship to an empty space (following the movement rules), though you do not take the action. (NB: I am not 100% sure of my translation of this portion)
What are the possible actions – again chosen by which space you land a ship on:
- Take 2 Gold
- Buy Glassworks – pay 1 Gold for a Glassworks
- Buy Shops – pay 2 gold for topmost tile or pay 4 and look thru pile and take one
- Buy Palace – pay 2 gold for topmost tile or pay 4 and look thru pile and take one
- Buy Special Building – pay 2 gold for special building tile
- Recruit Character – Pay # gold equal to the number of character cards you will own (1 for 1st, 2 for 2nd,…) You take the top 3 cards from the deck, put it face down into your hand, then place the other two on the bottom of the deck. If you don’t like any of the three, you can choose not to buy, but this still counts as your action for the turn and you do not get the 1 gold bonus for passing.
- Use a Gondolier – pay 2 gold and place one of your gondoliers on a matching color spot OR pay 5 gold and place one of your gondoliers on any spot. This piece stays there until the end of the game.
- Build – you can build roads, glassworks, shops, palaces or special buildings. You are allowed to build 1 to 3 of your tiles on the islands. There are specific places where each thing can be built. You could earn VP for your build (1VP for glassworks, 2VP for shop, 3 VP for palaces). If you build a special building, you do not earn VP now, but you get to draw 3 bonus cards and take one of them – these bonus cards can be used starting next turn until the end of the game.
- Take income – you receive gold from your shops on an island. There is some complicated interplay between the color of people on the roads (customers) and the shops they shop in (with matching colored awnings). OK, it’s not complicated, you pick an island. Then you look at the shops that you own. You get 1 coin per customer on that island of matching color to the awning on the store. You can only score a particular color of store once a turn.
- Production – You produce glass. You decide how many pieces of glass you want to make (i.e. pull a stone out of the bag). However, you lose 2VP per glass made due to complaining neighbors. After production, you can choose to sell glass – 5 coins for a single, 12 coins for a pair of the same color and 20 coins for a triplet of the same color. You can only sell one color of stones a turn. All unsold glass stones stay in front of you – they can be sold on a later Production turn, even if you choose not to make any glass.
- Gondolier – You can employ (pay 3 coins) or lay off (gain 3 coins) a gondolier. Either take one from the supply or return one from the supply depending on your choice. You cannot use more than 7 Gondoliers at any time – mainly because you don’t have more than 7 wooden bits to use.
The character cards – they score VPs at game end. They are held secret until they score. Each of them refers to a gondolier on a particular island. You can only use one character card per gondolier on the board. Thus, if you have 5 character cards in your hand at the end of the game, but only 4 gondoliers – you cannot play all of your character cards, you are limited to 4. They each score points based on a condition on an island – though the player gets to choose which of their gondoliers this applies to… (see scoring below)
The game ends when the supply of 2 types of tiles is out. The player who triggers this condition is done for the game. All other players get one more turn each. Then you score the character cards. Starting with the player who triggered the game end – you score character cards. Reveal one of the character cards and then choose which gondolier will be used to score it.
For example, the character card says – score 4 points for each red shop on an island. The player chooses a gondolier from an island which has 2 red shops on it. That player scores 8 points, and that gondolier is removed from the board (so that it cannot be used to score another character card accidentally). Keep doing this until you have scored all your cards – or you have used all your gondoliers up and can no longer score cards. If you have gondoliers left on the board without a character card to go with them, you score a single point for that piece. The player with the most VPs wins.
My thoughts from translating the game.
I’m definitely interested in this one. This has the sort of optimization of actions that I love in games. Though it’s hard to tell for sure until you play the game – it looks like one of the big challenges will be trying to figure out how to take the actions you want for free, or at least for as low a cost as possible. For instance – I really want to make glass stones, but I’d have to move 3 ships to do that… That action will end up costing me 3 coins to move the ships. Will I be better off just buying a shop now which I can do for free and hope that I can get the Glass Production action cheaper next turn?
I also like the idea of the variable bonus card scoring. Each of the cards will have a changing value based on how the game develops – due to placement of pieces by yourself as well as your opponents. I just hope that it doesn’t become a min-max struggle at game end to figure out how to maximally score the cards. (I doubt that it will, but you never know until you play it).
I was hoping to get an advance copy to play this prior to the show, but I doubt that it will be ready in time – but I’ll keep asking just in case ;)
If I learn more, or if I get some graphics from Lookout to share with you, I’ll post it here.
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor