Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 2 July 2019

Too good for Gondolas:- Walking in Burano

Game: Walking in Burano

Publisher: Emperor S4

Designer: Wei-Min Ling

Year: 2018

Walking in Burano is a 1-4 player tableau building game in which players compete to make the prettiest street and attract the most tourists. Of course what each tourist finds appealing varies, whilst they all enjoy the brightly coloured houses, some might be looking for the impeccable floral decor , while others are obsessed with spotting all the cats they can! Of course there are people living in Burano too and they are just as invested in their beautiful island as the tourists. Create the most beautiful street to spread the most joy and win the game!

At the start of a game of Walking in Burano each player is handed 2 scaffold tiles 4 penalty tiles and a small handful of money. A central market is made, 3 high (1 ground floor, 1 middle floor and 1 roof in each column) and of varying length based on the player count. Each turn will consist of 2 phases. First the selection phase where players will choose which tiles to take and a building phase where players may spend money to build their tiles and lure tourists.

Tile selection is simple, you choose one of the columns in the market, choose whether to take 1, 2 or 3 tiles, and choose whether to take from the top or the bottom of the column. This means that the first player will always have a lot of choice, but must always take at least 2 cards if they want a middle floor. However from the second player onwards, if a player took only a single card, a middle floor may be exposed and as such obtainable for a single card. Why would you want to take less cards? Well, each turn you get two money if you take only 1 card, 1 money if you take 2 and no money should you take all three. In the next phase you'll spend your money to build, 1 money builds you one card, but each extra card after that costs 2 additional money.

The locals aren't as fixated on individual houses, but instead want whole-street features. Like Santa, the local, who likes chimneys!
The street you build has a maximum area of 5x3 (5 wide, 3 tall). Each column represents a building and all 3 cards must be the same colour. You also cannot place 2 houses of the same colour adjacent to each other. Unless of course you spend one of your penalty tokens, these let you break the rules, but you gain 3 points at the end of they game for each one not used! Every time you finish a house you gain either a tourist or a local. They both function as your end game scoring, with tourists being focused solely on the building you just finished, while locals tend to be looking for things over your entire street. Matching up the right buildings with the right people is the key to getting points, which is why it's often worth spending those penalty points if you can get a pair of kitties out of it for your feline enthusiast to gawk at!

You can use your scaffolding tiles to temporarily fill gaps in your building, letting you build roofs before you have build the ground floor.
Walking is undoubtedly a pretty game. There is something incredibly satisfying about completing your street of 5 beautifully painted houses. Equally half the reason you don't want to spend those penalty tokens is you'll make your street look ugly. A wonderful part of the art design is the way the tourists stand at the other side of the canal looking up at the buildings you just made. The strategy in the game is intriguing too, trying to make a house to one person's liking is easy enough, but then factoring in the locals you might collect who's scoring encompasses multiple rows and the puzzle gets far more difficult. Not only that but there are limited numbers of each local and tourist, if your snooze then you will certainly lose, is it worth making a slightly less valuable building in order to finish it and get a new resident/tourist before your opponent can?

Overall Walking in Burano packs a lot of punch for a relatively light game, and I can see how competition over tiles will be exceedingly fierce while you reach the higher player counts. At two player the limited number of tiles on offer each round does make the game harder in a way that isn't necessarily any more fun as you can be spending a long time waiting to even see a tile you want, but the two player variant rules are non-intrusive and largely functional, successfully leading to consistently tight games. I do have some concern that you may find certain strategies simply aren't viable as the tiles you are hoping for simply don't exist in the colour you want them, and spending the penalty tokens needs to be highly rewarding to be worthwhile. Still the game works well and is undoubtedly good fun.


Walking in Burano was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £22.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk

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