Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Fresco Review

After teaching new players Fresco last weekend I thought this would be a great game to do my first review!

Fresco is one of those games that might seem intimidating at first to someone unfamiliar with euro games however the game play mechanics are not super complex. There is a fair amount of planning and strategy needed, but by the end of the 2nd turn almost everyone had the ‘idea’ of the game down. The objective is to score the most points; you do so by completing sections of the cathedral’s painting.

The game plays out something like this, you pick your wake up time on the first turn this is chosen at random but it is later determined by reverse score order, that is the person in last place chooses when to wake up first. This is a nice element because it stops someone from really taking off, some games I could jump out to an early 20 or 30 point lead but get stuck with the last wake up time and end up with a poor paint selection.

Your wake up time determines everything for the rest of the round, the order in which you will buy paints AND the paints available, the order in which you get to paint the Cathedral, the cost of paints and your moral.

After you’ve chosen your wake up time you begin to plan the rest of your turn. You place your workers onto a rectangular card that determines how many of each type of action you get. 2 Men on the market means you get to make 2 purchases however you will ever only get to purchase from 1 “Market Stall”. For every man on the Cathedral you get to paint a tile in the center of the board, you can move the “Bishop” one space (diagonals are allowed) but only once regardless of the number of workers painting. The rest of the actions are straight forward, for every worker on portraits you get 3$, for every worker on the Workshop you get to blend TWO paints. And for every worker in the theater you gain 2 moral.

You make all these choices behind a privacy screen, however if you have players new to worker placement games or new to gaming in general I would recommend playing the first turn or two without the screen.

All players’ actions take place at one location before moving to the next (everyone buys from the market before moving to painting etc.) The order that actions take place at each location is determined by your wake up time. After you have done the theater action the turn is over and players choose a new wake up time and repeat until there are only 6 tiles remaining in the Cathedral, this marks the next turn as the final turn.

I feel that Fresco is a great game that can and should appeal to all types of gamers and here is why.

Family Gamers should consider Fresco because there is no fighting, no war or ‘adult’ theme. Fresco also helps to teach management and planning skills, because you are planning actions behind a hidden screen and most of the time several turns in advance this game definitely gets a brain thinking.

Casual Gamers should consider Fresco as a bridge to more complicated and “gamer” games. Fresco brings worker placement to a basic level and really gets you planning a few turns ahead however it is short and after everyone knows how to play I found that a game only lasts 30-45 minutes. With the availability of multiple expansions you can think of Fresco as a game similar to Carcassonne, simple enough mechanics with room for complex strategies making a great game to convert casuals to gamers.

Gamer Gamers should definitely add this one to their collection. It’s a strategy worker placement game with hidden planning, and multiple expansions that come with the basic game. There are also 3 more expansions that offer plenty of replay ability.


There are 2 tiles with only primary colours, be quick to paint one of them because every completed tile gives you 1$ income for the REMAINDER of the game

If you spend early turns waking up late / increasing your moral and stockpileing resources, you can wake up early on the last 2 turns without going in to negative on the moral! this means you get 2 turns at being first player with all your regular workers! Paint your little heart out

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