Dale Yu: Review of Musée

 

Musée

  • Designer: Alf Seegert
  • Publisher: Gryphon Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: ~30 minutes
  • Times Played: 4, with review copy provided by Gryphon

Musee

Musée is a quick little card game where players try to arrange their works of art in the most pleasing way possible.  Well, by most pleasing, I mean in the way that scores the most victory points.  Each of the players is a curator of a three story museum, and you want to have paintings of similar theme (people, animals, buildings, landscapes, seascapes) near each other because that is what is pleasing!

The game is comprised of 60 art cards, each of which is a replica of an actual painting.  The vital information of each piece of art is in the top bar as well as a unique number, 1 thru 60.  Each player is dealt a hand of five cards to start the game.  In the 2-player game, which has been the  main way I have played it so far, you only use cards numbered 1 thru 50.  In this version of the game, you will end up playing 18 cards total – three rows of six cards each.  In each of the six columns, between the rows, you will place a chandelier/staircase token.  Half of these double-sided tokens  are flipped to their staircase side at the start of the game, and all players should have an identical arrangement of chandeliers/staircases.

On each turn, you do two things.  First, you play a card from your hand and place it somewhere in your Musée.  Then, you draw a new card to replenish your hand to 5.

Sounds simple, right?  Well, there’s slightly more to placing the cards.  When you place a card, you can freely place it in your 6×3 array of spots as long as it follows one simple rule: The cards in a Gallery (i.e. any particular row) must be in ascending order from left to right. Thus, your first card can be placed in any of the 18 spots in your Musée, but then this will limit further plays in that particular row because you must the put lower cards to the left of this one and higher cards to the right.

Four of the five colors

Four of the five colors

As I mentioned earlier, the cards are of five different types: Landscapes (gray), Seascapes (blue), Animals (green), People (red) and Buildings (yellow).  There are 12 of each type, and their numbers increase in increments of 5.  (i.e. the buildings are numbered 4, 9, 14, 19… 49).  You want to place paintings of the same theme next to each other, either side-by-side in a row or connected thru a staircase token (but not the chandelier token).

Four green cards - notice that their value increases by 5

Four green cards – notice that their value increases by 5

You also want to try to finish particular galleries as quickly as you can.  The first person to finish each of the three Gallery rows (upper, middle, and bottom) will pick up a Gallery Bonus card.  You need to be sure to plan ahead though – you may never pass your turn!  If you are unable to play a card to your Musée, your game is over at that point.  The rest of the players in the game can continue to play cards

The game ends when no one is able to play any more cards.

All of the scoring is done at the end of the game.  You score:

  • 1 point for each painting card you have placed in your display
  • 2 point bonus for each pair of same themed cards that are directly adjacent (side by side)
  • 3 point bonus for each pair of same themed cards connected by staircase (above/below)
  • 4 point bonus for each Gallery bonus card collected
  • The player with the most points wins.
Player Aid cards

Player Aid cards

There are also different setup rules for 3 and 4 players.  For three players, players use three rows of only 5 paintings each, though you do use the whole 60 card deck.  Each player will have 10 chandelier/staircase tokens, and the rules tell you to flip 3 in one row and 2 in the other to give you 5 staircases.  Again, all players should have the same arrangement at the start of the game.  In the 4 player game, you essentially set up the game as in a 2-player game, and there are two teams.  Each team is working to fill a single Musée.  There is NO table-talk allowed in this version.  Scoring is the same regardless of the number of players.

My thoughts on the game

This is a really neat card game – using ideas that are similar (such as the card ordering a la Rack-O) but also including new twists such as trying to get suited cards next to each other.  Thus far, I have mostly played this as a 2-player only game.  It works very well in this arrangement.  Play moves back and forth quickly, and you best pay attention to the cards that your opponent has played – as then you know what cards you won’t have a chance to play!

The fact that you get to see most of the deck in the run of play allows you to make some educated guesses at what cards you might pick up near the end of the game – by the end of the game, 46 of the 50 cards will have been drawn, and 36 of them will have been played.  As you progress through the game, seeing which cards are known to be in play and which cards are likely to be in the hand of your opponent can help you decide whether to try a risky placement or not. The scores in the game are not that high, our games have been in the 30s to 40s, so a three point vertical connection is a pretty big deal, and something worth trying to set up.

Also, figuring out how you might be able to try to use the staircases is a key point to the setup.  As half of the tokens will be on the staircase side, and they are known at the start of the game, you can try to set up your galleries to allow you the chance to fit the right card in if you are lucky enough to draw it.  It’s not so easy to do as the same colored cards are 5 apart in rank, but the player who can best manage this is likely the one who will win the game.

Can you figure out what you would score in this example?

Can you figure out what you would score in this example?

Game play is fast – our games are now coming in around 15-20 minutes.  The rules actually suggest that you play a best two-out-of-three when playing with two players, though it feels complete to me just playing once.  While I wouldn’t mind playing two or three in a row, I also don’t think that I would “need” to do that to get a good gaming experience.

We also did try the four-player version once, and this one didn’t go over as well.  It was very frustrating for me (as well as my boys) to rely upon your partner to know what you’re thinking… when you CAN’T tell him what you have in your hand!  The museums tend to be very conservative as a result, and this is the sort of game I’d rather be in charge of all the card placement, not just 9 of the 18.  Of course, you mileage may vary, but we’re probably not going to play it again with 4 players.

The artwork on the cards is superb – it’s almost like they commissioned professional painters to do each one!  The selection of pieces is very nice, and this could also be used as a quick study set for an art history class…

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale Y (2p/3p)
  • Neutral. Dale Y (4p)
  • Not for me…
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About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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