Author Topic: Fresco Big Box (image heavy)  (Read 2132 times)

Offline franks

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Fresco Big Box (image heavy)
« on: October 07, 2017, 02:47:01 PM »


Fresco: Big Box (2014) Basic game originally published 2010 - Spiel Des Jahres Nominee

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/139991/fresco-big-box

Designer: Wolfgang Panning, Marco Ruskowski, Marcel Süßelbeck
Artist: Oliver Schlemmer
Publisher: Queen Games
2-4 players (BGG – best with 4 players)
Playing Time 60 minutes
BGG - Weight / complexity rating: 2.64 / 5
Current BBG ratings  - Overall 225 / Strategy 163 / Family 27

Primary Mechanisms: Set Collection / Simultaneous Action Selection

Along with Carcassonne I’m a fan of what might be deemed as Euro games. I like getting the ‘standards’ or classics to the table. Though this is not an old title it certainly has that traditional Euro game feel. This title checks the box for a standard Euro troupe of an historical setting with mostly familiar mechanisms.

“In Fresco, players are master painters working to restore a fresco in a Renaissance church.”


Collect paint cubes to restore the Fresco and score points


Loads of cubie goodness. These are your coloured building blocks to uncover (restore) the ceiling.

Saying all that and now that I have had a good number of this style of games under my belt, some of these titles can feel a little flat. Our first game of Fresco left me just a little frustrated, knowing that I didn’t quite have it all in hand. Though the flow was smooth and we barely made a rule mistake, I knew there was more to be discovered in this game. I’ve now played 3 games, each as two players – with two different opponents. I was much more comfortable in my second game and had a much better lock on the game after the 3rd play.


Full two-player set up of base game and first 3 mini expansions. All components are very good quality!
Each player has two screens for lots of hidden information; coloured cubes you have collected, money and your action selection screen that gets revealed in its time.



Nicely printed screens with colour pallet and paint mixing information.


Second screen with turn order reminders and the important action selection board.
Send your apprentices out to do their daily tasks!


Though the Big Box was launched in 2014 with a Queen Games Kickstarter, I picked it up some time last year, (2016). This set contains all expansion and mini expansions, (Queenie’s) for Fresco that have been released to date. This will add a good long life to the game. As suggested by many reviewers, we incorporated the first three mini expansions in our first plays, (these are also available in the basic – non-Big Box edition). I won’t go into that detail here. I agree that these make the game feel complete and very well rounded. I have read through the many other mini expansions and will add the odd one in when we are more familiar to the game. I would like to try the Glaziers or the stained glass window expansion next. It seems to round out the theme and is well regarded by experienced players.


Main game board. Not all elements are described here

Though this game incorporates some standard mechanism like Set collection, there are some standout features that are nicely incorporated. The first is the wake up track or by it’s proper term, the Hostel, (where your apprentices would billet). We’ve experienced this in Viticulture but Fresco used this feature before that game came around. Right off the bat this is a bit of an agonizing choice as going first is really helpful in a round.


Choose your starting order!
Getting up early makes most anyone cranky but that’s what it takes to get first picks!
Example: getting up at 5:00am moves you three notches down on the mood track (pictured below) and while you get first pick at the market (for paints), you pay full or even inflated market prices. How badly do you want to go first in a round? In my experience it is good to go first or early!



Starting points for your ‘morale meter’ or the Theatre as it’s officially called in the game, (going to the theatre improves your mood). Move your marker up the track and new assistants want to work with you. Move it down and one of your workers could refuse to work that day! Note; this isn’t the best photo because it doesn’t show the full track.

Once players have decided their turn order and have made adjustments to mood, players are now ready to choose their actions for the round.


This is the action selection board, (right).
There are 5 actions your apprentices can take and you can take up to 3 of the same action.
The number of apprentices you use in a round can vary by your place on the mood track.
The first action is buying paint at the market.
The second action is to restore a tile of the Fresco
The third action is used to do private portraits, (mostly used to generate money – this won’ be fully explained here). This is also expanded on with one of the first 3 basic expansions.
The 4th action is to mix your paints. Players can transform coloured cubes into ‘higher grade’ colours in hopes of achieving high value Fresco tiles.
The 5th available action is used to improve your position on the mood track.
Important note! The photo here is of Leonardo’s action card in play. He has the pleasure to appear in each two-player game. Yes, this is one of those ‘dummy player’ games where it is necessary to control a 3rd player. Don’t just run screaming at that thought! This is an excellent implementation and has been very well received by the 2-player community – check out further BGG reviews for confirmation.
While Leonardo’s choices are fairly static, it adds another fun strategic element to the game. Each player in turn order gets a chance to control Leo. This is great when it’s your turn! He’s also not a complete dummy! Leo has a pawn on the score track and will lead for the 1st part of the game, making everyone else feel like the dummy! Again I’m not going to go into to full game detail here. This is to give you a basic idea of the game and my initial impressions.


So far and overall this is a challenging and tight game. The choices are meaningful and a bit difficult at times. The incorporation of the Dummy player with two-players is expertly handled and adds even more tension to the decision-making. This game can be a challenge for those AP (analysis paralysis) prone players, (like me), as one considers and looks forward from the choices you need to make. Though turns can play quick, I’ve found our games to take well over an hour.


Close up view of the market at the top of the game board. If players commit their apprentices to this action they can select paint tiles. To do this they pay the described amount (on the wake up table), select the paint swatch from the market and turn those markers into the actual cubes that you keep behind your player screen. For example: if a player committed two apprentices to the market and he woke up first he can select two swatches from either of the three market stalls. This player chooses the large green cube and the large orange cube in the 3rd market. He pays for those tiles and collects the actual cubes. That market is then closed and all the tiles from that market are put back into the draw bag. This market replenishes and is different every round!

This game surprised me in its simplicity and there is a solid game here with meaningful decision-making. The simplicity is more in the learning of the game and the actual turns. It’s your choices that really drive the game and give it depth. I suppose it shouldn’t have been too much of a shock when one looks at the respectable BGG ratings for this game. My brief description of the game here might seem overwhelming at first but this really is a straightforward game, especially if you’re an avid Euro gamer.

The Big Box has a very ‘nice’ molded insert – which I promptly ditched for more practical storage. Thought the insert had component slots it was still a struggle to make it fit and just didn’t seems practical. There isn’t a guide in the game on how to use the insert though some fine folks on BGG have done that on behalf of Queen games, (look in the BGG file section). With my desire to include the plastic containers for easy set up, I was better off taking out the insert. There is plenty of room in the Big box.


The plastic containers are not included but fit nicely in the box. Two cloth bags are included in the game and I have them stuffed with most of the base game components and the first three mini expansions.

Linkback: https://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=3573.0
Franks

Wanna play Carc? Can we add just one more expansion?

Offline Decar

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Re: Fresco Big Box (image heavy)
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2017, 02:16:28 AM »
A very thorough review franks!  Fresco hadn't been on my radar but it sounds pretty interesting by all accounts.  Good to see it tooks queen games 2 years to deliver something they already had.  I'm going to assume they were on holiday for most of the time (sorry still bitter).  Did yo find the playtime accurate?

Offline franks

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Re: Fresco Big Box (image heavy)
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2017, 07:14:58 AM »
A very thorough review franks!  Fresco hadn't been on my radar but it sounds pretty interesting by all accounts.  Good to see it tooks queen games 2 years to deliver something they already had.  I'm going to assume they were on holiday for most of the time (sorry still bitter).  Did yo find the playtime accurate?

Decar, in regards to the play time, we are still a bit slow in our games. The turns can go by quickly but its up to whom you are playing with. We tend to be a bit slow, so no, our games are still taking at least 90 minutes. I can see 60 minutes is possible after a good few plays. Saying that I don't mind the play time, when it seems worth it.

I've also had two bad Queen Kickstarters with the last Kingdom builder expansions, (Marshes and Harvest). The latter, Harvest, just arrived a couple of weeks back only after I made contact with the fulfilment company to see where this might be. As suspected, not only was this a ridiculously late fulfilment from Queen but many copies got lost in transit. The fulfilment company verified my information and I finally just recently received the package. The only semi positive thing with that one is that, Queen games had been trying to make up for their sins and sent a full Big Box with all expansions in place of the stand alone expansions. Great, now I have two Big Box sets and the stand alone Marshes. I'll sell some of it off at some point.

Seems like Queen is trying to clean up their act with the latest campaign of Merlin and Pioneers but I wasn't going to go there. Anyway I want to see better reviews of those games before maybe getting on that band wagon.

Offline Decar

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Re: Fresco Big Box (image heavy)
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2017, 08:59:40 AM »
I ordered Harvest too after backing the previous kickstarter.  I also paid 5Euros more for a new Big Box to put it all in, and instead they sent me a Big Box too.  I very much doubt Queen Games have got their act together.  Definitely won't be kickstarting them again.  Most of their games can be bought on amazon.com for 70% off about a week after they finally distribute..... They're running on credit probably hoping for an Asmodee buy-out to settle the debts!

(sorry you got me going again)...

The question is is it a fresco or a secco if you're restoring it?


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