Full disclosure: A review copy of Walking in Burano was provided by EmperorS4 Games.
Still running a giveaway this week! Check it out if you want to win ICECOOL2, ICECOOL’s standalone expansion!
It’s time for the last of the EmperorS4 Games that came out for Essen, this week, and I’m really excited to talk more about Walking in Burano! Eventually I’ll also get to the other ones I haven’t tried yet — Sorcerer & Stones, Hanamikoji, and Shadows in Kyoto, but for now let’s check this one out. As usual, if you want to see the other ones I’ve already reviewed, you can find those here.
Walking in Burano casts you as city beautification experts (sort of like Favelas) who are in charge of painting the houses along the river walk to delight tourists who come by to see the spectacle. With the help of some townsfolk, you’ll work to make the city into a place that’s friendly to everyone who venture that way. Will you be able to turn your housing block into a masterpiece?
Setup isn’t too bad; you’ll have a few sets of cards that need shuffled. First is the 1st Floor Cards:
Next up shuffle the 2nd Floor Cards:
And the 3rd Floor Cards:
You’ll want to reveal cards from these floors in rows to form the Floor Supply. Reveal one more card than the number of players, or, helpfully:
- 2 players: Reveal 3 cards of each type.
- 3 players: Reveal 4 cards of each type.
- 4 players: Reveal 5 cards of each type.
For the solo game, just set it up like a 2 player game. Give each player two Scaffold Cards:
Give each player 4 coins, to start:
And 4 Regulatory Bonus Tokens in their color:
Set the Tourists under the Floor Supply:
Set the Characters nearby, as well:
You’ll want to use a specific breakdown for those, though:
- 4 players: Use all cards.
- 3 players: Remove 1 of each Tourist.
- 2 players: Remove 1 of each Tourist and 1 of each Inhabitant.
Again, at solo, mimic the 2 player rules. Give one player the Starting Player Token:
You can also set the scorepad nearby:
Once you’ve done all that, you should be ready to start!
So a game of Walking in Burano is a game of painting houses to try and impress inhabitants and tourists. Once any player has finished 5 houses, the game ends after that round and the player with the most points wins. Recruit tourists and locals to try and boost your score!
A game is played over several rounds in which each player takes a turn. On your turn, you can take cards and build cards. I’ll explain as follows:
On your turn, you must take cards from one of the columns of the Floor Supply. You must take at least one card, and you may take starting with the topmost or bottommost card of any column. When you take, you may take the next card in that column as well, so you may take a maximum of 3 cards.
If you do not take 3 cards, take one coin for each card you don’t take. This means if you only take 1 card, you gain 2 coins.
You may optionally build cards onto your houses. There are a few rules:
- The card you build must be adjacent to another card. This can be your scaffolds or to an existing building. This rule cannot be broken.
- The card you build must be the same color as other cards in its column. Scaffolds are considered always matching.
- The card you build cannot be adjacent to another card of the same color in a different column. The columns need to be different colors.
If you find that you need to break one (or both!) of the bottom two rules, you may discard one of your Regulatory Bonus Tokens in order to ignore both rules for that card’s placement. Do this every time you would place a card that would break one or both rules.
Placement also costs money:
- First Card: 1 coin
- Second Card: 2 additional coins
- Third Card: 2 additional coins
This means that placing 3 cards in a turn would cost 5 money. You cannot place more than 3 cards in one turn.
When you complete a building, you may also add a Tourist or Inhabitant Card! Tourists generally score points for the building you’ve assigned them to, whereas Inhabitants give you points for the state of the town. You cannot have more than one of each type of Inhabitant. The locals are unique, as far as you’re concerned.
End of Round
Once every player has had a chance to play, pass the Starting Player Token one player to the left. If you’re playing a solo or two-player game, remove the rightmost card from every row from the game. At all player counts, you then slide the cards in the Floor Supply to the right and then refill the empty spots. Play continues with the new Starting Player.
If you’re playing a solo game, also remove one Character Card from the game.
End of Game
Once a player builds their 15 Floor Card (or if you run out of Character Cards in the solo game), the game is in its final round. At the end of the round, the game ends. Score each of your Character Cards, add in the points on your Shop Cards, and don’t forget to count the points on your remaining Regulatory Bonus Cards. If you have the most (or are tied for the most) closed windows, lose one point for each closed window.
The player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
The major differences are just the competition around certain types of cards at certain player counts. There are only four cards of each color, so, if you get two of a color, that means that one player is not going to be able to finish their house (if everyone split the other cards of that color) without spending one of their Regulation tokens. Beyond that, the Tourists and Inhabitants scale nicely, so I’m not terribly concerned about that. I like the two-player and solo modes for allowing the cards to churn more quickly (by discarding , though I fear with the solo mode that like Ganz Schon Clever, you can kind of figure out what you need to get an optimal score and generally work backwards, with enough effort. I’d say my personal pick for this is two players.
- You basically need to score at least 10 points per Character Card. If you’re scoring less than that, you’re not optimizing. A lot of cards can give you 15 points, if you play them right.
- At higher player counts you’re going to need to use your Regulatory Bonus Tokens. It’s … unlikely that you will always get the cards that you want to make your buildings perfectly, so you’re going to need to get creative with some of the rules if you want to get points.
- Don’t worry too much about closed windows. Don’t take all of them, naturally, but you can take some.
- The Shopkeeper technically has a really high scoring potential. He rewards you for having shops, which also give you points; that’s a lot, if you’re going for that specific Character.
- Keep in mind that some Characters don’t interact well. Characters that want plants don’t interact well with Characters that want flowers; you’ll never see a card that has both. To that end, it might be worth focusing on one over the other, especially for the Inhabitants.
- Don’t telegraph your strategy while it can still be disrupted. If you grab the Police Officer, players might attempt to snatch the streetlight cards away from you in the hopes that they can block you on points (and because they’re valuable in their own right). Try to be subtle about what you’re pulling so it’s harder to guess what exactly you want.
- It may not be a bad idea to learn which cards have which features. It’ll help a lot for the solo game, being honest, but it will probably not come off very flatteringly in multiplayer games. It’s like memorizing all the Kingdomino tiles; you could do it, I suppose.
- It’s probably not a great idea to try and build two houses of the same color. It makes you really easy to block by any player who just takes the roof you need. Now, your strategy is messed up and you might have to spend a Regulatory Bonus token; neither thing is good.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Love the theme. There are cats everywhere! What’s not to like? Plus it’s a cute idea without being quite as gentrification-heavy as other city beautification games I’ve seen.
- The art is great. Maisherly continues to crush it; it’s vibrant and fairly diverse and it looks great on the table. I think it’s one of EmperorS4’s more colorful games, which I appreciate.
- Fairly light game. I think it’s a bit weightier than, say, a family weight, but it’s not too heavy; I could see this being a gateway game, maybe gateway+.
- Seems expandable. You could definitely add either more cards for each color, new Inhabitants and Tourists (imagine someone that plays off of other players’ cities!), or just more cats. Really here for more cats.
- Plays quickly. Usually only about 30 minutes; it’s a good length for what it is and doesn’t overstay its welcome.
- The Santa Claus is pretty amusing. I mean, it makes perfect sense that he’d be excited about chimneys, so, he’s a solid fit for the game even if I don’t really expect him to be in Italy. I guess everyone needs a summer home?
- Nice visual accessibility accents. Each of the colors has a symbol that appears on all cards of that color for players who have trouble distinguishing between certain colors. It’s really nice that they included that.
- The cards feel a bit thin. I’m worried about damaging them on shuffles, and they feel a smidge flimsy? Not sure; might just be me. They’re also kind of small, while I’m nitpicking.
- I would kind of like to see more cards. It’s not a balance thing, but it makes the game pretty stressful at four, since there’s really not enough cards to go around. Give how pleasant and relaxing the theme is, more cards would ease my pain a bit, there. Then again, I’m kind of hoping for an expansion at some point, so that would totally fix this, for me.
Overall: 8 / 10
Overall, Walking in Burano is great! I love how enthusiastic the game is about its own theme, and I think the art really pulls its weight in that aspect. It’s more than bright; it’s excited and upbeat. Everyone’s smiling, all the people and cats are happy to be there, and that’s just a great way for a game to be. It’s pleasant to play, too; there’s almost no take-that (beyond taking a card that someone else wanted before they could get it) and at two players it’s not terribly difficult to get what you need. It seems to be a game with a lot of potential that reminds me a bit of Coloretto, but that might just be that cards are in columns (which hardly counts). Either way, it’s a solid gateway game and I’ve been showing it to other people with a fair bit of success. If you’re looking for a quick and beautiful game or you just love painting houses, Walking in Burano has been a lot of fun, and I’d recommend it!