Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames

Saturday, October 24, 2009

BGTG 97 - All About Brass (with Stephanie Kelleher)

If you pay attention to the episode numbers, you'll see this one actually belongs before the previous show about Essen. I only needed to hurry that one out in time for the big game fair in Germany this week. I'd recorded this episode focusing on Martin Wallace's Brass with guest Stephanie Kelleher (songlian on BGG). Stephanie is at Essen right now helping with the BGG/Geekdo booth!

We both really enjoy this game. Stephanie has played more face-to-face games, while I've got a lot more online plays. I tend to prefer lighter/shorter games, but Wallace's games always have a strong appeal for their historical themes. Stephanie is more of a fan of heavy games. The interesting part is how much we both like this one.



Blogger XBox Grend said...

I really enjoyed the show - it was very informative and entertaining. Good episode, Mark and Stephanie!

5:14 PM  
Blogger Chris B said...

Great show Mark, I really enjoyed it. I know that the All About shows are a lot more work to prepare for, but they really are awesome when they come.

I've only played Brass once, and I didn't enjoy it, I felt that the card play artificially limited what I could do, and if that was the case, I could just play Age of Steam, which allows me freedom to build my network however I wanted.

I think maybe I might have glossed over the industry play at that time, and I would not be opposed to trying it another time, since I typically do like Wallace Games.

In fact, your show might be the reason I actively seek to try it out again, rather than just being at the right place at the right time when a game starts up.

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Davebo said...

Very fun, of course being good friends with both of the casters doesn't hurt. I even followed it a bit, even though I've never played Brass.

You said something about "loans" being off-theme. It seems that perhaps these aren't loans, but investors? That'd explain the consequences better. You get less income because you're sharing the profits.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

Want some stats from an actual game? I invited BGTG listeners via Twitter to join in a play-by-web game of Brass. Here were the results of a good, close game!

This is an automated message. Game number 5935 has finished. Here is the URL of the game page:

Here are the results of the game:

1st: Yellow (GamesOnTheBrain): 138 VPs; Income Space 57
2nd: Red (MarkJohnson): 137 VPs; Income Space 37
3rd: Purple (jerad): 124 VPs; Income Space 52
4th: Grey (jtakagi): 101 VPs; Income Space 23

Congratulations to GamesOnTheBrain!

5:51 PM  
Blogger Seth Jaffee said...

I just heard about this podcast, and will be listening to it soon! I love Brass, it's a great game.

To Chris, re: "I felt that the card play artificially limited what I could do, and if that was the case, I could just play Age of Steam, which allows me freedom to build my network however I wanted."

Yeah, you can build your network where you want, then be artificially limited in whether you can deliver (based on the production chart)! ;)

Honestly, I don't think the cards in Brass are as limiting as some people have said. Remember that you can double-action build... My friend Eric complains that a double-action build is equally bad since you lost an action compared to the guy that happened to draw the card he wanted, and to an extent I suppose he has a point. But mostly I just think you need to be more flexible.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Seth Jaffee said...

In my experience the best way to explain how the cards work is this:

There are 3 ways to build Industries:
1. Play a map card, build anything in that city (of course, limited by what's available in that city). this is like starting a new network - so you don't have to have your network touching that city.
2. Play a picture (Industry) card, build THAT industry anywhere ON YOUR NETWORK.
3. Double-action build... spend both your actions and any 2 cards to pretend you have the Map card of your choice.

This just describes what you're allowed to build and where your allowed to build it - some Industries have further requirements such as cost in resources (all of them have costs in money!). If an Industry requires Coal, then there needs to be a way for Coal to get to that city. But this is different than being allowed to build it though, so it doesn't have to be YOUR canals/rails to get the coal there. Anyone's canals/rails will do.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Seth Jaffee said...

You guys mentioned some stuff about Martin Wallace's rules... here's a quote from my review of his Struggle of Empires:

"As it turned out, the rules for the most part were sort of intuitive and were easy to pick up. I did notice that for a Martin Wallace game, the way you pick up rules appears to be to look for what makes sense, then take special note when someone says that's not the way it works..."


3:51 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Busy life have made me prefer shorter games with a sweetspot at about 45 min - 60 min. But first time I played Brass I loved it which was not the case for Agricola. Interesting that you also greatly enjoy Brass. Great show - the timing with the Essenfrenzy is questonable. Stephanie was great on the show hope she could join on other shows.
Peter F

10:54 PM  
Blogger jtakagi said...

Another great show - very timely, since I too have been playing Brass online. I find that it is the perfect online game, since there are very few turns you could take, and they could be time consuming. Playing Mykerinos drove me crazy because of how many turns you had to take, and auction games are even worse.

Having watched how people play online, I really appreciate the different strategies available in Brass. I do find the cards limiting at time, but this is a good thing I suppose, injecting a bit of luck in the game.

What I find most interesting is how Martin Wallace himself was surprised by its success, while other games that he has been more excited about (like Automobile) have not caught on fire in the same way. Which makes me wonder what will happen in his new Brass-inspired game.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Myers said...

Another great "all about" show, Mark. Stephanie did a super job.

I've been wanting to try Brass for some time, but we don't have a copy in our Fresno Group right now. We may just try and work our way through a PBW game to get a feel for it.

While you really peaked my interest in playing Brass, you also made me a bit apprehensive about trying it. I don't like playing a game where, through my own inexperience, I can screw up the game for the players that know what they are doing. I'm not sure how to reconcile that. I guess I will have to find other newbies and learn it that way.

7:57 PM  
Blogger otscotty said...

Great show Mark. Stehapnie was fantastic, and should certainly come back. I've stayed away from Wallace games for the most part until now. However, your podcast really made me want to try this game. I'm enjoying my first online game right now. I have to say that the rules are not great. Sometimes, a topic is covered in several different sections of the rules with different details appearing each time. But the game seems great so far. Just two rounds in, I've already got that 'more to do than I have resources for' feeling. Thanks again for the podcast.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Greg W said...

FYI, your email link seems to be broken, it bounced when I emailed you about Brass.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Scotty said...

Oh! Thanks Mark. I created that blog and then totally forgot about it. Now I'm even having trouble accessing it. Anyway, I really enjoyed the game. I'm currently helping several of my friends in an online, teaching game. They are having a blast as well. Thanks so much for turning me on to a game I would otherwise have ignored.

Scotty (otscotty on BGG)

7:26 AM  
Blogger Justus said...

hello, as a 2 player gamer I was really excited to hear about the 2p variant and was hoping to hear about your opinions about it. I was wondering if you could drop a line about what you thought about it.

Loving your podcast! Justus

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Ryan Sturm said...

Great work Mark! I really enjoyed this episode and referenced it on my podcast episode #9 "How to Play" about the same game. My show is mainly just about learning the game and I suggested people check out your show for a more in depth discussion of strategy. And also a big thank you from another podcast newbie, who got inspired from the original board game podcasters such as you. :)

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Travis Ball said...

Hey Mark! Just talked to Steph a few days ago via Skype and she mentioned this podcast about one of my favorite games (if not my favorite as of the time I left).

Great podcast. Good foundation of the rules and great discussion of the game itself. Was honored to hear my name come up (thanks Steph) and the juices are flowing again for me to get back into some online games - so let me know if you're up for one.

What I think was really interesting about this game was the way my thinking of it evolved over play. I've probably played about 20-30 in person games and at least twice that online. The first game through about the 5th or so, I kept thinking how it never mattered which cards you were dealt and just to go for points. I only later realized how extremely important the cards are to your play and how subtle some of the moves can really be.

I also noticed that with players who have gotten a few games under their belt, the market is much more active whereas with new players there isn't alot happening with the market. This leads me to believe that that same evolution takes place with other people as they play more as well.

I've played quite a few games where you really see everything the game holds from the first play, and can really decide at that point whether you like the game or not. Brass has many subtleties to it that can only really be understood through play.

Steph was pretty accurate when she said something like "if you don't hate it after the first play, give it a few more tries". I highly recommend this game to anyone willing to sit down for the length of time required to play.

7:42 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home