Taking its name and inspiration from Italian glasswork, Mille Fiori is a strikingly attractive card drafting and tile laying game designed by Reiner Knizia, with art by Stephan Lorenz. Each round, the 2-4 players will be drafting cards which they can use either to advance their ship along an exploration track or, more likely, play to place out one of their diamond-shaped tiles in one of the various areas of the board. It's a 'points salad' game, in that whatever actions you take you'll be expecting to score points, but you'll rack up the most points if your placement is connected to other tiles and/or qualifies you for a bonus.
The board looks busy and complicated but gameplay is mostly intuitively easy; to the extent that Mille Fiori can be a great 'gateway' game for introducing non-gamers to modern board games. The various areas of the board tho' score in different ways. In the workshop (yellow-bordered) area, you score 1 point for each tile of yours that's connected to another. In the residences (mauve bordered) you score the amount shown in the position you place your tile but you also score again for all of the tiles you've played to this location that are connected in an unbroken line. For both these locations, you'll need to keep a keen eye on what other players are doing. You will want to block them off if you can in order to avoid them building up a runaway score. In other areas of the board, your tile placements can mean other players sharing in your scoring because you will be building on the tiles they've previously played.
In all the sections, there are bonuses to be earned for meeting the criteria set out - for example, having one of each icon type in the workshop, or having four different numbers covered in the residences. Being the first to achieve the bonus criteria will earn you the most points, so it's definitely worthwhile racing to score those bonuses. Certain positions on the board will also let you pick a card from the open display and take the action indicated on the card. And it's especially satisfying when you are able to cascade the bonuses to create a chain of actions, when, for example, your tile placement lets you claim a card that lets you take an action that qualifies you for a further bonus... In our plays at Board's Eye View, we were usually able to put together at least a couple of impressive high-scoring bonus chains in most games, and discovering these added hugely to the thrill of the game.
Schmidt Spiele have done an excellent job in the production of Mille Fiori. The translucent plastic tiles give a strong suggestion of stained glass but they are practical too because you can still easily still see the symbols over which they are placed. It can be an addictive game (in a good way!) because there are so many different ways to score that players immediately want to play again to try to explore an alternative path to victory. It's a game that works at all player counts but we've especially enjoyed our plays with a full complement of four players competing for position on the busy board. And even with four players, games took only around 60-75 minutes - exciting throughout as scoring accelerates as the game progresses.
Mille Fiori is distributed in the UK by Coiledspring Games.
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