Big Game Night Preview: Walking in Burano

Disclaimer: This review is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by AEG to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.

Game: Walking in Burano
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group, EmperorS4
Design: Wei-Min Ling
Art: Maisherly

Mechanisms: Card drafting, Set collection, Tile placement
Number of Players: 1 – 4
Game Time: 20 – 40 minutes

Description: Walking in Burano is a card-drafting, tableau building game where players build a street of houses with features to attract characters which give them points at the end of the game. Each round, players take turns drafting first, second, and third floor cards from a market starting at either the top or bottom of a column and taking 1-3 cards in order from that column. For each card less than 3 that they don’t take, they receive a coin, which are used to then play drafted cards into their tableau.

Cards have placement rules, such as needing to match in color the other cards in that house, needing to not match the color of adjacent houses, and needing to build from the ground floor up (though scaffolding can be used to offset this). They also have features such as shops, cats, flowers, plants, chimneys, awnings, etc. that characters will want you to have in order to score well. Once a player finishes a house (i.e.: it has a first, second, and third floor) a character is attracted below that house. Characters come in 2 types: tourists, who score features on just the house above them, and inhabitants, who score features on horizontally adjacent sets of cards, certain floors of all your houses, or sometimes all houses.

When a player completes their 5th house, the round is finished, and then the game is over. Players score features according to the characters they attracted, and the player with the most points wins!

Review: I was immediately excited when I saw that AEG was bringing a title from Emperor S4, and specifically from Wei-Min Ling, who is the designer of my #6 game of all time, Mystery of the Temples. They sent it to us to preview for Big Game Night this week and I was pumped, to say the least. It’s super different than Mystery of the Temples, but I think it’s just as fun.

The art is absolutely awesome. I’ve always liked the cool style of Maisherly, who has done the art for a number of Emperor S4’s titles. It’s got a whimsical, colorful look that draws you in and keeps you there. And, every time you play, there’s always something new that you didn’t notice the last time you played the game. Also, cats. So many cats. And it’s glorious. On top of that, when the game is over, all of the art comes together and it looks like one big painting. How cool is that?

I really enjoy that they included beginner rules (with only 4 end goals for scoring) and advanced rules, and they also added the first expansion. That means that you have the 4 tourists (always) and then you’ve got a wide array of inhabitants that you can switch in and out of the game for variability.

One of the coolest mechanisms in the game is the scaffolding. This allows you to draft and place second story cards in the first round, or draft two first story cards of the same color and still place both of them. The scaffolding acts as a “placeholder” so that you don’t end up stalled out because you’re waiting for that one red second story card that just won’t appear.

I also really like the “cheat” tokens. They remind me of the tokens in Sagrada – you can use them to place a card that would break one or more rules (colors can’t be adjacent and/or all cards in a house have to be the same color). But, if you don’t use them, they give you 2 bonus points each at the end of the game.

Also, there are colorblind friendly symbols! The game depends on color a lot, but AEG did a good job of making it accessible with easy to find colorblind symbols. I have some issues distinguishing colors from time to time, but this gave me no trouble at all – I would like to hear from colorblind people to see if that helps them or not. 🙂

My only complaint – and it’s not really a complaint, but an observation – is that there’s a heck of a lot to keep track of. You can definitely get a little bit of analysis paralysis (AP), because overchoice can become a bit of an issue. There’s so much that you can do, it can be hard to choose what is best to do. But, that does result in a “multiple paths to victory” situation, which always amazing.

Try, Buy, Deny: If you’re at Gen Con or you’re at your FLGS for Big Game Night, you need to give Walking in Burano a try. It’s an awesome, short brain-burner that keeps you engaged for the entire duration of the game. If that sounds appealing to you, then Walking in Burano should be an insta-buy for you. Have fun at Big Game Night!

Game On!

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