Dale Yu – Review of Mille Fiori

Mille Fiori

  • Designer: Reiner Knizia
  • Publisher: Schmidt Spiele
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 10+
  • Time: 60-90 minutes
  • Played 4 times with review copy provided by Schimdt Spiele

mille fiori

Reiner Knizia has seemingly designed about a million games.  OK, that’s a bit of hyperbole; it’s probably no more than 240,000.  Over his career, he has dabbled in nearly every genre of Eurogame that I can think of (well, I’m trying right now to think of a Knizia Dudes on a Map).  I feel that 2021 is the year of the Knizia Point Salad game.  

Earlier this year, we reviewed Witchstone – which was very well received.  We also got a copy of Mille Fiori from Schmidt, and this takes a different approach to the genre.  In this game, players  take the role of glass manufacturers and traders who want to profit as much as they can from their role in the production of glass art.  The name of the game comes from mille fiori, the Italian phrase meaning “a thousand flowers”.  It refers to ornamental glass characterized by multicolored flower-like designs.

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The game board features different aspects of the glass production cycle: workshops where the glass is created, houses where it’s installed, people who support your work, trade shops where it’s sold, and the harbor where ships bring glass to faraway locations. You want to be present in all of these areas, preferably at just the right time to maximize your earnings. The game board features 110 spaces, with one card in the deck for each of those spaces.

To start the game, each player gets a set of 27 translucent diamonds in their color. A few will be left over as an endgame supply.  The deck of 110 cards is shuffled and some are placed out in a face up display (based on player count) and the rest serves as a draw pile. 

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The cards have a number of different features.  The background color tells you which of the five regions of the board uses the card, and the symbol in the central diamond tells you which specific space in that area.  There is a scoring rubric found at the bottom.  Finally, there is a ship’s wheel in the upper corners of each card – which provides an alternate use for the card.

The game will be played in a number of rounds (max 10/7/5 with 2/3/4 players) or at the end of any round when at least one player has placed the last of his personal supply of diamonds on the board.

At the beginning of each round, each player is dealt five cards.  Players examine their hand, and each player secretly and simultaneously chooses a card to play this round. When all have chosen, each player plays their card in turn order, beginning with the round’s start player.  There are a few options for each card played – either play a diamond in the space shown in the center of the card (more details below)  OR use the ship’s wheel found in the upper right corner.   Once used, the played card is placed in the discard pile.   Once all players have played, the remaining cards from the hand are passed to the next player.  This process continues until all players have 2 cards in the hand given to them, a card is chosen as usual for the action but then this final card is placed in the display above the board (after all the player actions have been resolved).

In the yellow workshops, you generally score 1 point for each of your tokens in a contiguous group with the played diamond (space determined by the icon in the card). You get 2 points per token if you play on a Pigments space (one of the particular icons in that area).  You can get a bonus once you have played in all 4 of the material types.

In the purple line of houses found on the top and around the right side of the board, you play in the next free space, and then you score the number of points in the space that you played your diamond in, and if your token is in an uninterrupted line of tokens of your color, you score all of those diamonds again.  You can score bonus points when you have played in spaces with 4 unique point values.

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In the two green citizen pyramids, you score 1, 3 or 6 points based on the level where your token is played, noting that you can only place at higher levels if both spaces below it are filled.  You can choose any legal space in the area, but you score double if the card symbol matches the space you played in.  When you play, all tokens which support from underneath are scored again (though none of these double).  You can get a bonus when you have played on all 3 of the icons in an area.

In the light blue trade shops, four columns of goods are present, and when you place a token (based on the icon seen on the card), each token on that column scores for its owner points equal to the number of goods of that type now covered. You can score a bonus when you have played on all 4 different goods.

In the navy blue harbor, you move your ship forward on the track equal to the number on the played card, and score points based on the space where you land.  You finally place a token in one of the five rows in the harbor, and when that row is completely filled with three ships, each token in that row scores points for its owner – the value depending on the number of diamonds in the matching row in the trade goods area.

With any card, you also have the alternate choice of using the ship’s wheel found in the corner.  When you use this, you simply move your ship forward the number of spaces stated on the card and score points based on where the ship stops moving.  You do not get to play a diamond in the harbor area if you choose this method. 

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When all players have played their final card (on the turn when they are passed two cards), remember that the final card is placed in the display above the game board, then the start player marker rotates and you begin a new round.   

These cards which are found above the board are used for bonus plays.  In each area, there is an icon with a yellow diamond in a white circle – when you play your diamonds in a way to activate said icon, you get a bonus play.  You choose and of the face up cards above the board and resolve it (as you would a card you played from your hand).  It is quite possible to chain together a number of bonus plays.  If you are unable to choose a bonus card (because the supply is empty!), you simply score 5 points instead.

As I mentioned above, you can get bonus points in some of the areas when you meet the stated criteria.  There is a bit of a race element as you will score more points the sooner that you achieve the criteria.  You will use your diamond to mark the highest bonus point space in the area when you. These points (from 20 to 5) are scored at the end of the game.

Again, the game ends when either the deck is exhausted and new hands cannot be dealt OR when a player has placed their final diamond. The only endgame scoring is the addition of the bonus points to their current score.  Ties are broken in favor of the player who has the fewest diamonds left in their supply (i.e. who has played the most diamonds to the board).

My thoughts on the game

After my first few games, I must say that this is possibly my favorite Knizia game of recent memory.  And, yes, I know that I made this same statement earlier this winter with Witchstone.  But, wow, this one seems like an instant classic.  All of the parts work well, and it’s one of these point salad affairs where every part works well, and you want to do everything – but you have to choose only one each action.

Like with many of these games, there is a lot of benefit if you get to monopolize an area on your own.  In one of my games, one player ended up being left alone in the workshops (because none of us had a large area to score from).  So, none  of us were willing to make a play that only scored one or two points.  However, the player left alone started to score 10, 11, then 12 points with each successive play (and doubling when he had Pigment cards!)

It’s hard (well not worthwhile) to play defensively.  I suppose near the end of a round, you might be willing to hate draft against your neighbor when cards are of equal suckiness – i.e. you’re probably going to take the ship’s wheel anyways – but otherwise, you’ll likely end up taking the card which scores you the most personally.  It’s hard to take one for the team to block someone else when your other opponents will also benefit without taking the same sacrifice.  Furthermore, you need to ration out your use of the ship’s wheel option – once your ship has reached the end of the track, it doesn’t move any further – and you therefore lose this as a viable option.

So, on each turn, you’ll have to pick up the hand of cards passed to you and figure out what your best play is.  On the turns when you get (one or more) bonus cards, you can sometimes string together a nice and unexpected combo – whether a high scoring combo or maybe unexpectedly qualifying for a bonus score opportunity.

After my first few plays, I don’t think that any area is more powerful than any other – a lot depends on the tactical opportunities left to you by your opponents, especially if you’re left all alone in any area.  This balance leads to interesting decisions each turn.  In a 4-player game, you’ll get a new hand (to you) each turn, though with 3 players, you’ll get to see your initial hand again for your final choice, so you might be able to try some long term planning as you try to anticipate which cards will be returned to you for your final decision of the round.

I have really enjoyed this as a four player game (all but one of my plays have been at the full player count), partly because I really like games with constrained numbers of actions.  Here, you are usually guaranteed 20 card plays in the game PLUS however many bonus card plays you are able to generate.  Given the limited number of possibilities, each bonus card is a significant increase in your action potential, and makes this a serious strategy to pursue.  Each play is important, and you really must make the most of each card choice – and that results in a tense game from start to finish.  

So far this year, the two Knizia games with similar mechanisms (Mille Fiori and Witchstone) are at the top of the class for SPIEL 2021.  Mille Fiori is a bit shorter with a similar game within – making this a denser and richer experience for me.

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers


Mark Jackson: I was very skeptical about Mille Fiori after reading the rules… but my actual experience of playing it was a lot of fun. The variety of options constrained by the card draw makes for a fast-moving game with lots of interesting trade-offs in decision-making and timing.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! Dale Y, Steph, Mark J
  • I Like it.  John P
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

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.
This entry was posted in Essen 2021, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Dale Yu – Review of Mille Fiori

  1. Damien Cosgrove says:

    Any thoughts on how this plays at 2p. I’ve been inerested in this for ages, but after reading the rules a while back, I wasn’t sure it would feel tight at 2p and as I was quite looking forward to playing this one with my wife as it felt a good fit of both theme and the rules weight. And I’ve seen that there has been some discussion on the BGG forums that people have been looking into how to make it more interesting for that count.

    • Dale Yu says:

      unfortunately, i have only played at 3 and 4. As the board does not change for player count, I can definitely see that the game may feel “less tight” – however, this may be balanced with the fact that you’ll have more opportunities to construct combos that benefit yourself better. Of course, this is all supposition

      • Damien Cosgrove says:

        Thanks for the input. As you put it, the opportunity with fewer players is just a different one, to make more of the space. I wish I knew when it would get to the UK, as nowhere here is currently showing any preorder for it.

    • Jeremy says:

      2p isn’t that good, partially because of the draft and partially because most of the moves that you make end up setting up the next player to play a card to a given area. You end up being hyperaware of what you’re passing your opponent in a way that fundamentally changes the feel of the game vs. 3-4 player games. It is functional, but it begins to feel mostly about hate drafting, so I wouldn’t really recommend it if you’re only intending to play at 2.

      • Damien Cosgrove says:

        Thanks for the input Jeremy. for games I’m going to play with my group, I mostly don;t worry about 2p flexibility as I rarely play ike that, but in this cas eit looked like an interesting cross-over that may also work with my wife. I guess I’ll see when it does reach the UK.

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