#936 – Framework

Base price: $40.
1 – 4 players.
Play time: ~30 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Logged plays: 3 

Full disclosure: A review copy of Framework was provided by Pegasus Spiele.

There’s always something a bit thrilling about trying to get a few reviews done before I leave for a work trip or an event or something. It’s usually just a lot of hustling and scrambling, but I’m going to see if I can edit photos in the airport or something deeply ludicrous. There’s always a bit of a grind to life, but that’s how it goes for the pace of reviews I’ve set for myself. This week, we’ve got Framework on the docket, from our friends at Pegasus Spiele! Looking forward to checking out another Uwe Rosenberg title.

In Framework, well, you learn that not every game has to have an explicit thematic conceit! That’s not the theme of this game, but what is? Well, this is a more abstract game about connecting groups of frames together to accomplish tasks. As you do, you’ll spend your task tokens, which will help you win the game! The race is on to see who can complete twenty-two tasks first, so, will it be you?

Contents

Setup

Really not a lot of setup, here. Give each player twenty-two tokens in the same color:

Then, add all the tiles to the included bag:

Draw tiles, leaving them face-up until there are as many tiles as players, plus one. You should be ready to start!

Gameplay

A game of Framework is played until one player runs out of tokens! That’s about how it works.

To start a round, reveal tiles until you’ve revealed one more than the number of players. Then, starting with the start player, each player takes a tile in turn. This means that the start player for a round will get to take two tiles. After taking a tile, each player must immediately add the tile to the play area in front of them, placing each tile orthogonally adjacent to another tile that’s already there. The start player must place their first tile before the next player takes their turn, so that they don’t get the advantage of seeing which tile will be left for them at the end of the round.

When placing a tile, there are two things to consider: first, the number of frames (0 – 3), and the number of tasks (0 – 3). Each tile may have multiple frames or multiple tasks, but will have at least one task or one frame on it. Completing a task allows you to place one of your tokens on it, which helps you potentially win the game. To complete a task, the tile must have at least the printed number of frames of that type adjacent to it. Groups of frames of the same type that are orthogonally adjacent to each other count even if each individual tile is not adjacent to the task, which is neat. Kind of like Habitats. Some tasks have a split between two colors (either one frame type or the other must be used to complete the task), a gradient between two colors (both types of frame count towards completing this task), or an arrow between two tasks (the left task must be completed before the right task can be). Placing a tile may complete more than one task, so make sure to keep an eye on your play area!

After every player has placed their tiles, pass the bag one player to the left; they’re the next round’s start player.

Play continues until one player has placed all of their task tokens; that player wins! If the bag runs out of tiles, the player with the fewest task tokens remaining in their supply wins.

Player Count Differences

I will say that Framework has some interesting changes as the player count changes, but they’re not particularly complex ones. With more players, you have more tiles in the pool, each round, but you also go more rounds without being the first player to pick from that larger pool. This kind of averages out the random element, to some degree, because you’ll have a larger pool of options but more rounds where you don’t get to be the first player to pull from that random pool. Beyond that, I wouldn’t say that there are many major differences, since largely you’re just pulling tiles from a random market and adding them to your supply. I don’t have a strong preference for player count; I will say that while two players is nice, Framework is just as solid at higher counts.

Strategy

  • Try to leave yourself room to expand! This is both logistically and strategically practical. Logistically, you don’t want your tiles falling off the edge of the board. More strategically, you should leave yourself some room to branch out or add extra tasks to large groups of frames for bonus points. Otherwise, you’re going to end up in a situation where you have to create a new group of frames every time you add a new task tile; it’s much easier to attach them to chains of frames that already exist.
  • You should be going over your task tiles every turn to make sure you haven’t forgotten to place tokens. Just generally a good idea! As you build out chains of frames, you can potentially forget that there were other tasks from earlier in the game that were now completed by the tile you just placed. You should try to, before your turn ends, scan over all of your tasks and make sure that they’re up to date and marked complete. It can sometimes make the difference between winning and losing.
  • Taking tiles with multiple types of frames on them can help you branch paths while still keeping up your large groupings of the same type of frame. The challenge, here, is that tiles with multiple frames on them are highly desirable, so you might not be able to keep them from your opponent. That said, if you can take a few of them over the course of the game, you can create intersecting groups of frames and tasks. It seems pretty challenging, without some good fortune, to create a perfect group of frames and tasks, though, so do the best you can. The multiple-frame tiles can help link groups or cross over groups, though, if you need that.
  • If you build a large enough group, you can sometimes place task tokens adjacent to that group and just knock off the tasks with relative ease. Once you’ve achieved that kind of critical mass, it’s essentially just free task token placement, so do your best to try and build large groups where you can. Naturally, if you see someone else trying to do that, it may be a good idea to try and prevent them from getting too large of a tile set.
  • The conditional tasks are easy to complete, provided you get the first one done. They’re relatively low lifts, but you absolutely must get the first one done before the second one. Conditional tasks can be a pretty quick and easy way to place two tokens, if you can set up the right frame placements.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • I do continue to appreciate games with basically no setup requirements. This one is just distributing tokens and then throwing all the tiles in a bag, which is very easy to implement. No shuffling, no stacking; nothing. A game that’s easy to set up gets a lot more plays from me, which is partially why I’ve been playing a bunch of games on Board Game Arena, lately.
  • Pretty easy game to teach, as well. This ones’s nice because you’re just building chains of tiles to complete tasks. They’re pretty quick to pick up, but figuring out how to do so efficiently is the crux of the strategy, here. A lot of these types of games are great ways to play a quick board game with a friend, rather than having to try and introduce more complex games right out the gate.
  • Plays quick enough. Surprisingly fast, actually! There isn’t a lot of room for analysis paralysis, even though there’s a spatial element to this. It just moves pretty quickly.
  • The art style is pleasant, as well! It’s kind of homey? I don’t know what the exact style is, but it’s pleasant.
  • The multiframe tiles are a fun way to try and branch paths of frames. I just think that’s a pretty neat little thing. I think it’s fun to try and intersect your groups of frames with a multiframe, if you can, but it’s definitely tough.
  • The placement challenges are also pretty interesting, as well. I like that there are multiple different types of tasks

Mehs

  • The comparisons to Nova Luna aren’t meritless, though there do seem to be some differences (swapping out the time track for, functionally, two different types of potential information on each tile). I think it’s kind of odd, as Uwe Rosenberg titles go, for this to be so similar to Nova Luna, in terms of style of game and objective, but it is, I suppose, somewhat different? I think the time track management is a bit more interesting than not, if I had to pick between the two. This does have lower-complexity going for it, though, if that’s more your speed.
  • The theme is just kind of there. Like, aesthetically, the game is pleasant, but there’s really nothing to the theme beyond the aesthetics of the game? Collecting frames and completing tasks have nothing to do with each other.
  • The game can be a bit of a space hog, partially because there’s no real structure to how players place their tiles. Just the hazard of an unbounded real-space game, I guess. As you lay tiles to complete tasks, the game kind of makes an amorphous tile blob. Reminds me of Amoeba. Ah, that game was just okay. But in all seriousness, the game can take up a fair amount of space.

Cons

  • Some tiles are, to some degree, more useful than other tiles (even if only contextually), so the random draw that starts each round may be frustrating for players. “Useful” is a loaded term, particularly because a tile’s utility depends a lot on what tiles you already have, but there is something a bit frustrating when an Ideal Tile gets drawn and you don’t even get a shot at it. Not much to be done beyond hoping that another good tile floats your way later.

Overall: 7.5 / 10

Overall, I think Framework is a fun little abstract game! It reminds me, a lot, of Nova Luna, though I’ll say that I prefer the strategic aspect of time track management that Nova Luna offers. This does make Framework feel, I think, a bit more basic, which has its pros and cons. On one hand, Framework is much easier to teach and play, which I like a lot! On the other, I could see fans of more complex fare, like me, looking for something a bit more from Framework than what it offers. This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with Framework, just that some more complexity may be amenable to other players. It does have a pleasant art style; I think the metal, brick, and other materials for frames are nice, subtle art pieces that make the game striking without being kitschy or anything like that. I do like the tiles with multiple frames as a fun way to try and intersect various paths, though, I’ll fully admit that I tend to make large groups of one tile type, rather than making multiple groups. I get a bit confused trying to track multiple groups of the same frame. But, completing tasks is fun, and trying to draft the ideal tiles is entertaining, as well. If you’re looking for a quick and simple abstract, and you don’t mind one that can take up a bit of space, Framework might be a great place to start! I think it’s fun.


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