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Buru Preview: A Historical Euro that Goes Beyond The Usual

Euros are just…so exhausting. And I’m not talking about the gameplay, which even on the lighter end walk the razors edge between fun experience and tedious math simulator. I mean the themes. Yes, Euros originally came from, shockingly enough, Europe, but does it really have to be stuck on that continent and its history? How many ways can we milk Medieval Italy, people? Luckily, the tide seems be changing. As board games becomes more diverse as a hobby and as an industry, genres are starting to get used in new and interesting ways that reflect a much more interesting pool of cultures and history. One such game is the upcoming midweight Euro from Crafty Games: Buru. Launching on Kickstarter on May 17th, the game is set in 14th century Indonesia during a period of rule by the Majapahit Empire.

What’s In The Box?

Buru box

I will forever love euros that don’t just get lost in a billion tiny pieces and this one for sure doesn’t. They’re there and yes, they’re fiddly, but it’s not a huge mass of them like in some games. The art and design of the game by Dann May from Quillsilver Studios is breathtaking, capturing the look and feel of the setting without exoticizing it like so many similar games have (of course it’s not really my place to decide that, it still at first blush seems better than other games in the genre). While it’s hard to make firm judgements on pre-Kickstarter copies, the best pieces are definitely the big wooden spirit totems (three in the base game and another in the expansion). They’re beautifully made and really pop on the board. The circular board, by the way, is super fun and a great way to make the game’s visuals unique and easier to read.

How’s It Play?

The game takes place over five rounds, each one being divided into the different phases of the day. The main goal of each player is to use their explorers in the most efficient manner to fulfill decrees, please the spirits, and gain the most esteem from the king. Each region has its own set of actions (think something like Everdell), and the winning player at each region gets to act before the others. You can also recruit different islanders (as in the picture) to add to a tableau and activate for their abilities. The winner is the player at the end with the most esteem and tribute cards (gained from giving esteem to the spirits), with a bonus for fulfilling the orders of their Elder, which represent personal goals for players.

The Verdict?

Buru is a game that strikes a great balance between theme and gameplay, melding some interesting twists on classic Euro gameplay with a unique historical setting. Thanks to the use of cultural consultants and plenty of research, there’s no reason why Buru can’t stand next to other games that focus on well-known (and overdone) Western European or American history. If you’re looking for something different, or someone who wants a good entry point to the Euro genre, Buru might be one of the best Kickstarters you back this year.

You can back Buru and the Ambelau expansion on May 17th, and sign up for notifications here.

Images via Crafty Games

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  • Fiction writer, board game fanatic, DM. Has an MFA and isn't quite sure what to do now. If you have a dog, I'd very much like to pet it. Operating out of Indianapolis.

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