by Kevin Pollock
I have been praising Brass pretty much since I started writing these articles. It is my favorite economic game and certainly Martin Wallace’s most masterful design. That is why I did not hesitate to back the Roxley Games kickstarter version last year. Not only was the original game, now titled Brass: Lancashire, going to get a huge cosmetic upgrade but there was also going to be a completely new game; Brass: Birmingham. It took several months longer than anticipated but the final result was amazing and well worth the wait.
Both games cover the first 100 years of the Industrial Revolution in England. The original game is centered around Liverpool and Manchester in the north while Brass: Birmingham takes place in the midlands of England. Each game covers two ages, Canal and Rail. When all of the industry and city cards in the deck have been played an age ends, the cards are reshuffled, and the next age begins. At the end of the first age all canals are removed as well as any level I buildings and players must re-connect the cities with rail lines in the second age.
The main resources in both games are iron and coal with beer being a third resource in Brass: Birmingham. These resources are required for constructing the various industries as well as the rail lines. Both of the games are about making connections between the various cities and each city only has room for specific industries so planning is a major component of these games. The rule set for both games is not difficult at all but strategies can sometimes overwhelm new players (It took me about 5 or 6 plays of Brass before I really figured out how all the elements worked together).
Make no mistake, the Brass games are in the “heavy” category. They are also among the most enjoyable and satisfying games in my collection. I highly recommend both Brass: Lancashire and Brass: Birmingham. The new art is nothing short of amazing and the components are top notch. Check them out on Boardgame Geek or come by the store and have a look.