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Walking in Burano

This is a visually striking set collection game designed by Wei-Min Ling and published by Emperor S4 and AEG. It's themed around the brightly coloured houses on the island of Burano in Venice, Italy. Players are each turn drafting 1, 2 or 3 cards from any one column in a three-column grid. They will ultimately be placing the cards out with the aim of constructing a tableau of five adjacent three-storey houses, each made up of cards of a single colour. When a house is completed, a player chooses one of the available local inhabitants or tourists to occupy the house. Each of these characters scores points in a different way, according to the various icons on the cards in their tableau.

Walking in Burano is very easy to teach and learn; to the extent that it can be viewed as a 'gateway' game for those new to modern games. It's a game, however, with surprising depth. You have to pay to 'build' a card to your tableau and the only way to get money is to take fewer than three cards when drafting. You aren't just looking at the colour of the cards on offer but, to do well, you'll also want to have careful regard for the icons on the cards and the choice of resident to move into your completed house so that it maximises your end-game points score. Do you hold out for cards that will optimise your scoring or do you race to complete buildings to get the best choice of resident? The number of each type of resident is limited, so if you dither and dally too long then the resident you've been hoping to recruit may no longer be available to you... There's also the option to 'break' the rules by, for example, mixing the colours in a house, although this comes at a price: it requires that you sacrifice a points token that would otherwise be added to your score at the end of the game.

Part of the charm of Walking in Burano is the art by Maisherly Chan. The iconography on the character cards (showing how each scores) is clear, but the cards you're using to build the houses are quite small so you'll need reasonable eyesight and decent lighting to spot all the elements you need to keep track of. We'd ideally have liked larger cards but you certainly can't otherwise fault the components - especially the shiny metallic cardboard coins.

The game is arguably at its best with 3 or 4 players but the small tweak suggested in the rulebooks makes it very playable as a two-player game. Commendably, the rules also incorporate a solo game mode; so Walking in Burano gives you a lot of game for your money.

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