Brass: Birmingham board game
Brass: Birmingham board game

Brass: Birmingham

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Overall Rank: #21 | Trending Rank: #14

Brass: Birmingham is an economic strategy game sequel to Martin Wallace's 2007 masterpiece, BrassBirmingham tells the story of competing entrepreneurs in Birmingham during the industrial revolution, between the years of 1770-1870.

As in its predecessor, you must develop, build, and establish your industries and network, in an effort to exploit low or high market demands.

Each round, players take turns according to the turn order track, receiving two actions to perform any of the following actions (found in the original game):

1) Build - Pay required resources and place an industry tile.
2) Network - Add a rail/canal link, expanding your network.
3) Develop - Increase the VP value of an industry.
4) Sell - Sell your cotton, manufactured goods and pottery.
5) Loan - Take a £30 loan and reduce your income.

Brass: Birmingham also features a new sixth action:

6) Scout - Discard three cards and take a wild location and wild industry card. (This action replaces Double Action Build in original Brass.)

The game is played over two halves: the canal era (years 1770-1830) and the rail era (years 1830-1870). To win the game, score the most VPs. VPs are counted at the end of each half for the canals, rails and established (flipped) industry tiles.

Birmingham features dynamic scoring canals/rails. Instead of each flipped industry tile giving a static 1 VP to all connected canals and rails, many industries give 0 or even 2 VPs. This provides players with the opportunity to score much higher value canals in the first era, and creates interesting strategy with industry placement.

Iron, coal, and cotton are three industries which appear in both the original Brass as well as in Brass: Birmingham.

New "Sell" system

Brewing has become a fundamental part of the culture in Birmingham. You must now sell your product through traders located around the edges of the board. Each of these traders is looking for a specific type of good each game. To sell cotton, pottery, or manufactured goods to these traders, you must also "grease the wheels of industry" by consuming beer. For example, a level 1 cotton mill requires one beer to flip. As an incentive to sell early, the first player to sell to a trader receives free beer.

Birmingham features three all-new industry types:

Brewery - Produces precious beer barrels required to sell goods.

Manufactured goods - Function like cotton, but features eight levels. Each level of manufactured goods provides unique rewards, rather than just escalating in VPs, making it a more versatile (yet potentially more difficult) path vs cotton.

Pottery - These behemoths of Birmingham offer huge VPs, but at a huge cost and need to plan.

Increased Coal and Iron Market size - The price of coal and iron can now go up to £8 per cube, and it's not uncommon.

Brass: Birmingham is a sequel to Brass. It offers a very different story arc and experience from its predecessor.

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User Ratings & Reviews

  • For all that hype I can only say that I'd rather play concordia
  • What a wonderful experience. It’s such a well crafted game and everything feels like it just falls into place when playing!
  • One of my favourite Wallace games, and he's one of my favourite designers.
  • A modern version of Brass with more randomized setup. With its multiple new commodities I don't think Birmingham is as tight as Lancashire, but it's still plenty taut and I'll gladly play either game.
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Finally getting to this! And... I'll be cheating a lot and mentioning more than one game in each category :D

Best beginning: #Skull or #Just One - It just takes the first 2-5 minutes for it to "click" for everyone and get you laughing. Everyone has the look on their face that says, "Ohhhhh I see how this is going to go" and it's great that everyone's on the same page right from the get go. Among heavier games, I'd consider #Viticulture: Essential Edition because from choosing your wake-up time, to placing your first workers in the first season, it keeps everything just tight enough that you're immediately bumping into each other's plans.

Best middle: #Root and maybe #Brass: Birmingham after sufficient number of plays - By midpoint, Root presents a bustling board state with different factions getting in each other's face. And especially if you're playing as a faction with lower "reach" values, meaning a faction with limited presence and mobility over the map, the midpoint of the game is when you're really starting to shine. For Brass, it's a game that's played in two halves: canal era and the railroad era. By the time you're done with the canal era, the game gives you good feedback on how well you're doing in comparison to your opponents, and how you might need to change up your plans. By the midpoint, you're also making lots of money every turn and you can afford to do so much more in comparison to the beginning.

Best ending: #Camel Up (Second Edition) and #Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated - When I think of "best ending," it should be games that have fair amount of unpredictability. It probably won't be games with endings triggered by a player reaching a minimum number of VP's or satisfying some kind of condition, although those types of endings do sometimes make for a climatic ending if someone makes an impressive catch-up. #Camel Up (Second Edition) sometimes has the crazy ending of a Mario Kart game, while Clank! Legacy gets a big plus from not just presenting players with the looming threat of getting killed by a dragon, but also a story element.

Ah, I misread that haha. Which of those are you wanting to try out with your wife the most? For us, finding time has been the toughest thing. But there are so many games I want to introduce to my wife like #Brass: Birmingham, #Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar, #Obsession, and #Star Wars: Rebellion.

I look forward to hearing where that's at next year xD

Although, from the sound of it, it seems like you're well on your way of doubling it real soon? haha

I really enjoyed my play of #Brass: Birmingham by the way. I'm hoping to introduce it to my wife before the end of 2020.

Lol!  I will try to post a review soon.  I would say that this game might invoke that feeling in much the same way #Brass: Birmingham might invoke the smokey whiskey drinking mood of a good English bar after a day of work.  

#Brass: Birmingham has been almost perpetually out of print since it became available, at least in my experience. I also think there's a decent number of people who are after the Kickstarter edition only because of those yummy chips.

Edit: sold out, not exactly out of print

I know that #Brass: Birmingham has struggled with availability. I would assume that is a big reason that it hasn't been bought more frequently.

"Bossing it" may be my favorite phrase from you lol. I can attest to being one of those people clicking into#Brass: Birmingham then noping out of it.

Interesting to see my favourite game #Brass: Birmingham be the 4th most viewed game, but nowhere to be seen on the list of bought games? I wonder if people are looking into it and noping out for some reason. 

#The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine is absolutely bossing it. I look forward to the second installment in that series which they announced recently:

Die Crew: Mission Tiefsee Cover Artwork