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Brass: Lancashire is one of Martin Wallace’s finest games. This 2018 reprint by Roxley Games is a thing of pure beauty, in both game design and aesthetics. Brass is an economic strategy game where players compete as rival cotton tycoons in Lancashire, UK. During the Industrial Revolution, cotton was a business of epic proportions. Can you build a blossoming network to transport iron, coal and cotton? Can you create a thriving, wealthy conglomerate?
Your turn involves clever hand management. You perform two actions, by spending cards from your hand (and then replenishing your hand). Cards have either Lancashire-based locations on them, or industries. Will you build industry tiles or improve older ones within your network? Or will you extend your network? How many raw resources sit connected within your transport network? How much will it cost?
Almost everything costs money in Brass! Connecting canals or railways between cities costs, as does building/upgrading industry tiles. Managing your finances is crucial! You’ll earn income on a regular basis, but like any empire, you’ll have to spend money to make money. Keep a close eye on the fluctuating markets to see which materials have high/low costs right now…
Succeeding in Brass is knowing how to stretch the most out of your hand. Geographical locations on cards restrict where you can build your industries. But it isn’t a pure luck-fest, because you can use any card to take the ‘develop industries’ action. Also, any card allows you to sell cotton or take the ‘build a connection’ action. You can turn any hand into a great hand with the right decisions, made at the right time.
Brass: Lancashire is a game of two halves. First, you’ll build a canal network. Mid-game scoring occurs when the deck runs down. Everyone scores their canals and ‘established’ industry tiles. Afterwards, everyone’s canal networks get removed from the board. Also, any low-level industry tiles get wiped (higher-value industry tiles remain though, giving you a launch pad for the second half.) Then the rail network phase starts – now you’re linking cities with train lines, instead. End-game scoring kicks in when the deck depletes a second time, and most points wins, of course!
Player Count: 2-4 players
Time: 60-120 minutes