The game theme focuses on building the city of Burano a center of fishing and lace production. It’s played over 4 seasons or a total of 14 rounds. Each turn a player may take up to 4 actions if they can afford it. There are multiple ways to earn VP and the most VP wins.
Each player has a player board. The L side has a privilege track. These privilege points can be traded in during the game for small benefits such as more cubes and money. The left side also has the schedule ring. The face of the wheel is modular allowing variable set ups. The R side of the board holds the cube pyramid and the roof tops.
The main board has Burano. Cubes are placed in Burano to build the city. The game comes with a nice punched cardboard overlay to help keep cubes in place. It also has the fishing islands and merchant ships and the lace workshops.
A brief summary of game play follows:
At the start of the round each player simultaneously builds a cube pyramid. Cubes determine many of a player’s actions. The cubes may be played into the city of Burano. The color of the cube determines which of the three main actions you may do. The color of the cube needed for each action is randomly determined during the clean-up phase at the end of the round. The actions are fishing, lace making and earning. The cube color also determines which roofs may be built. Naturally since you’ve built a pyramid the cubes at the top of it must be played first.
Rooftops earn the players privilege points or building cards and VP when built. Building cards may give the players some abilities related to the actions or end game points. The roof tops have colored tops and must be built on matching colored cubes.
If the cube you’ve just played results in a fishing action you may move your boat to a neighboring island or a merchant ship. If when you sail to an island your schedule ring arrows are pointing to colors that match the houses on the island you draw fish cards equal to the number of matches. The workers are placed in a similar manner. If any player has workers on the island from previous rounds they must remove one back to their schedule ring and they receive 2 money. If you move your boat to a merchant ship you may sell fish resulting in VP.
Lacemaking works in a similar fashion if you’ve played a cube to Burano that matches one of the colors in the lace making action space. You may place workers on factory tiles matching the colors of the arrows on your schedule ring. Workers placed in the same turn must be placed orthogonally. If you place your worker on a spot with a coin you earn it.
The last action cube placement may result in is earnings. Players earn money equal to the number of coin icons uncovered by sending workers fishing or lace making. You may also send a worker home from a fishing island to earn money during this action.
Next follows the clean-up phase. First score fishing island majorities, if a tie divide the VP rounded down. You score 4 in a 4 player game for each island this way. Next score lace making. For each worker in the lace workshop you may score 2 VP if return a cube matching the color of the spot the worker is on. Score additional VP for workers that are orthogonally adjacent. Shuffle the action color markers and place them in the action fields. Refill players’ cube supply by gaining one cube of each color next to each remaining worker on the schedule ring. Leftover cubes from the pyramid are turned in for 1 coin each. Refill up to 3 roof tops. Previous ones may be discarded before drawing. Pass the start player.
After the final round convert privilege points to money and score 1 VP for every 5 coins. Score 1 VP for each unsold fish card. Score building card VP. Most VP wins.
The production and quality is quite nice. The cubes are large and easily handled even when building the second story of buildings. The cut out board to hold the cubes in place works well. The card icons are a bit small to see across the table at least for my eyes but it wasn’t a major issue.
I love my Euros and Burano meets my expectations as a challenging game. I put Burano on the high end of the “I Like It” tier. I’m not sure if it makes it into the “Love It” tier as I have only had one play but it could. I really enjoyed learning the game.
There are multiple ways to score and I found the play and the scoring paths to integrate well. The cube pyramid is a novel mechanism. It does require some planning and flexibility to get the most out of your cubes. I always take it as a good sign when I am thinking about what I might do the next time I play game afterwards and definitely feel that way about this game.
Thoughts from Other Opinionated Gamers
Jennifer (3 plays) — I played 3 4-player games in the last few days, and I would still be happy to play it more this week if I find more time for gaming. I like optimization and strategic planning and this game offers plenty of both. I especially like the cube management part – not only do you have to make sure you have the right color cubes to perform the actions you need, but you also need to pay attention to what cubes you need for end of season scoring (if you are in the lace factory) and what cubes you will get for actions in the next round. In one of my games, we ran out of cubes of several colors at the beginning of the last round, so one player who has a ton of fish cards and was planning to sell fish in the winter season was out of luck. It’s also a game that rewards specialization so you can probably mostly ignore one aspect of the game (ex. lace factory) and focus on other strategies and do better than someone who dabbles in everything. Some of the game play is a little fiddly and having to keep looking at what color roofs other players need slows down the pace (also means you can’t always plan ahead for your optimal move because by the time it’s your turn, the optimal move may be different) but overall I find Burano to offer a good mix of strategy and player interaction.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
I love it!
I like it. Lorna, Jennifer
Not for me…