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Mille Fiori: The Masterpieces

Mille Fiori: The Masterpieces is an expansion for Reiner Knizia's card drafting and tile laying game Mille Fiori (Schmidt Spiele) which we featured on Board's Eye View earlier this year. You need the core game to play. As with the core game, art is by Stephan Lorenz.

Schmidt Spiele have packaged The Masterpieces in a box that's almost as large as the core game. When you open up the box you may well be disappointed that so much is filled with empty space! There are components that expand and build on several aspects of the original game in interesting ways but the deck of small cards, extension board, cardboard tiles, extra scoring markers and plastic markers for the new track could easily have fitted into a box a quarter of the size. On the plus side, you'll have no difficulty housing all the components in the core game box.

The expansion incorporates a new board that you lay to the right of the game board. This extends the sailing track but, most important, it introduces a new council track for players to move up in order to collect bonuses and, ultimately, points for getting to the end. The council layout isn't predetermined: it's made up of six tiles that you randomise at the start of the game. The tiles each correspond to one of the areas on the main board, with the exception of the harbour area. Whenever you play a card for its action on the base board that corresponds to the council tile your marker is on, you move your marker up the council track and take the bonus this gives you. This is quite a neat device because it incentivises certain choices and so changes the dynamics of the game: you're more likely to choose to activate a card that matches your position on the council track because you'll be getting an extra potential cascade of benefits.

Dogate and Dogaressa cards also give you movement up the council track. In addition, playing a Dogate card makes you first player in the next round and may give you points. Dogaressa cards give movement on the track and points but can be held in reserve for use in place of another card.

The Masterpieces for which the expansion takes its name are cards that can be collected for some potentially substantial set collection bonuses. There are three different designs of Masterpiece, each of which is in three different colours. When you pick up Masterpiece cards you lay them out in a 3 x 3 grid and score the points shown on the card. At the end of the game, these will score an additional 10 points for any row or column with the same design or same colour, and 20 points for any row or column where both the colour and design are the same.

There's no denying that The Masterpieces expansion adds a degree of complexity to Mille Fiori. In our review of the base game on Board's Eye View we described the original game as a potential 'gateway game' to introduce prospective new gamers to modern board gamers. With the expansion incorporated there's probably a tad too much going on for completely inexperienced game players to comfortably cope with. The solution will be to introduce new players to the core game and only add in the expansion on subsequent plays. And those who already love Mille Fiori will find plenty here to add further to their enjoyment of the game; adding to players' options and offering yet more routes to assembling those satisfying chains and combos that let you rack up impressive points scores. And you'll be expected to exploit all the new elements for their points-scoring potential: the expansion's extra scoring tokens envisage potential scores of 400+!

Mille Fiori and The Masterpieces expansion are distributed in the UK by Coiledspring Games.

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