How to Play Brass Birmingham  Rules Guide

2-4 players

60 – 120 mins

Age: 14 +

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Table of Contents

What is the goal?

The game is set during the Industrial Revolution and played over 2 eras:

  • the Canal Era (1770-1830) and
  • the Rail Era (1830-1870).

Players take on the role of Entrepreneurs and complete actions and compete to gain the most for Victory Points (VPs) by the end of the Rail Era.

How do you setup Brass Birmingham?

Board Setup

  1. Place the board on either the day or night side.
  2. If there are less than 4 players, remove all cards and Merchant tiles
    that shows a player count (displayed on bottom right corner) greater than your number of players,
  3. Take the Wild Location (see C) and Wild Industry (see D) cards and place face up on 2 of the Card Draw Areas
  4. Form the draw deck by shuffling remaining cards and placing them face down on the remaining Card Draw Area (see E) 
  5. Shuffle remaining Merchant tiles, and place 1 (face up) on each of the
    Merchant spaces marked with the number of players in your game (see F),
    located near the edges of the board.
  6. Place 1 beer barrel on each beer barrel space beside a (non-blank) Merchant tile (see I).
  7. Place 1 black cube on each Coal Market space (see J), leaving 1 of
    the £1 spaces open.
  8. Place 1 orange cube on each Iron Market space (see K) , leaving both
    of the £1 spaces open.
  9. Place the remaining cubes and beer barrels beside the board; this is the
    General Supply. Note: The General Supply is limitless. If you need more of a resource, represent it with something else.
  10. Place the money beside the board; this is the Bank.

Location Cards:

2 players:
blue and teal coloured Location cards are not in the Draw Deck.
3 players:
teal coloured Location cards are not in the Draw Deck.
4 players:
all Location cards in are in the Draw Deck.

 

 

 

Player Area Setup

  1. Take a Player Mat.
  2. Take £17 from the Bank.
  3. Choose a coloured Character tile.
  4. Place the matching coloured Link tiles in your player area.
  5. Stack the matching coloured Industry tiles (consisting of Cotton Mills, Coal Mines, Iron Works, Manufacturers, Potteries, and Breweries) on their appropriate Player Mat Slots (place the blacktop half side face down).
  6. Place your Victory Point (VP) Marker on the Progress Tracker “0” space.
  7. Place your Income Marker on the Progress Track “10” space.
  8. Draw 8 cards from the Draw Deck to make your hand. Do not reveal to other players.
  9. Draw 1 additional card from the Draw Deck and place it face down
    in your player area to form your Discard Pile.
  10. After all players player areas are set up, shuffle all players’ Character tiles and place in random order on the Turn Order Track

Gameplay

The game is played over 2 eras: the Canal Era and the Rail Era.

Rounds

Each era is played in rounds and continues until the Draw Deck and players’ Hands are exhausted.

Rounds per era:

  • 8 rounds for 4 players
  • 9 rounds for 3 players
  • 10 rounds for 2 players

During each round, players take turns in the order of their Character
tiles on the Turn Order Track.

 

Player Turns

On your turn, you perform 2 actions.
Exception: During the first round of the Canal Era, each player performs only 1 action.

For each action, discard a card from your Hand and place it face up on top of your Discard Pile.
Exception: Wild cards are placed back onto their Card Draw Areas.

After all your actions are completed, refill your Hand back up to 8 cards from the Draw Deck.

Place all money spent during your turn on top of your Character tile on the Turn Order Track.

Once the Draw Deck has been exhausted, your Hand will decrease each round until you have no cards left.

 

Brass Birmingham Gameplay and Player Actions

Actions List

List of available actions:

Build

Place one of your Industry tiles on the board and pay the associated cost and coal/iron required.

Network

Add Link tiles to the board to expand your canal or rail network.

Develop

Expand to higher-level industries by removing your Player Mat Industry Tiles.

Sell

Flip Cotton Mill, Manufacturer, and/or Pottery tiles when you sell to a Merchant and consume beer (if necessary)

Loan

Take a 30 pound load from the bank and move your Income Marker 3 income levels backwards.

Scout

Discard 2 cards form your hand (plus the card required to perform the action) and replace with 1 Wild Industray and 1 Wild Location card.

Exception: Action cannot be performed if you already have a Wild Card in your hand.

Passing

You can choose to pass but must discard a card for each action passed.

Spending Money

When spending money to perform an action, the money is placed on top of your Character tile on the Turn Order track. This determines the player’s turn order for the next round.

 

End of Round

When all players complete their turn, perform the following steps before the next round.

Determine turn order for next round

  • Player who spent least money this round will go first in next, and player who spent most goes last.
  • If players spent equal amount, relative order remains the same.
  • Take all money from character tiles and return to the Bank, resetting the money spent.

Take Income

  • Take money from the Bank equal to your income level. Income is not collected at the end of the final game round.
  • Income level is the number displayed on the coin beside the Income Marker’s current location on the Progress Track.
  • If income level is negative, you must pay that amount to the bank.
  • If a shortfall exists when paying negative income, gain mone by removing one or more of your Industry tiles from the board, each is worth half of its cost, rounded down. Removed tile is removed from the game and any excess money is kept.
  • If unable to pay the shortfall, lose 1 VP if possible for each 1 pound short

Note: Any of your industry tiles may be removed but it must stop as soon as enough money is gained to cover the shortfall. Industry tiles may not be sold for any other reason.

End of Era

Each era ends when all players use final cards in their Hands. When this happens:

  1. Score Canal/Rail Links
    Each of your link tiles score 1 VP for each link icon displayed in adjacent locations. Once scored, remove Link tiles.
  2. Score Flipped Industry Tiles
    Score VPs as shown in the bottom left corner of your flipped Industry tiles on the board. Unflipped Industry tiles are not scored.

    Note: If more than 100VPs are scored, track additional points by starting another loop of the Progress Track.

End of Canal Era

 

  • Remove Obsolete Industries
    Remove all level 1 Industry tiles from the board (not from Player Mats), and return them to the box. All level 2 or greater Industry tiles remain on the board

  • Reset Merchant Beer
    Place 1 beer barrel L on each empty beer barrel space beside a (non-blank)
    Merchant tile.

  • Shuffle Draw Deck
    Shuffle all players’ Discard Piles together and place the cards face
    down on the appropriate Card Draw Area. Remember: The bottom card of
    each Discard Pile will be face down, and need turning over before
    shuffling. (Don’t start the Rail Era with a card face down in your discard)

  • Draw New Hands
    Each player draws 8 cards from the
    newly shuffled Draw Deck.

How do you win in Brass Birmingham?

After end of Rail Era scoring,

  • Player with most VPs is the winner.
  • Ties are broken first  by highest income and then by most money remaining.
  • If still tied, it is a draw.

Gameplay Concepts

Flipping Industry Tiles

Different industry tiles are flipped in different ways.
Cotton Mills, Manufacturers and Potteries
Flipped when you do a Sell action
Coal Mines, Iron Works and Breweries
Flip when the last resource is removed from the tile.

Increasing Your Income

Whenever one of your Industry tiles is flipped, increase your income and advance your Income Marker on the Progress Track by the number of spaces shown. Income levels cannot be higher than 30.

Your Network

Location on the board is part of your network if:
  • it contains one or more of your Industry tiles
  • it is adjacent to one or more of your Link tiles

Connected Locations

2 locations are ‘connected’ if you can trace a route of Link tiles (owned by anyone) from one location to the other.

Consuming Coal

Coal is needed to build rail, Links and certain Industry tiles. To consume coal, a rail Link or Industry tile must be connected to the coal source. Coal is consumed from:
  1. The closest connected unflipped Coal Mine (owned by anyone). If multiple mines are equally close, choose one. When a mine runs out of coal, choose the next mine.
  2. Purchasing coal from the Coal Market, beginning with the cheapest price. A connection to the Merchant icon is required. If market is empty, you still can purchase coal for 8 pounds per coal cube.
Consumed coal cubes are returned to General Supply.

Consuming Iron

Iron is needed for the Develop action and to build certain Industry tiles. When consuming Iron, an Industry tile does not need to be connected to an iron source. Iron is consumed from:
  1. Any unflipped Iron Works (owned by anyone) and does not have to be closest. If more than 1 iron is required, consume each iron from a different Iron works.
  2. If there are no unflipped Iron Works, purchase from the Iron Market, starting at the cheapest price. If the market is empty, purchase at 6 pounds per iron cube.
Consumed iron cubes are returned to General Supply.

Consuming Beer

When selling cotton, manufactured goods or pottery or performing the Network action during the Rail Era, beer consumption may be required. The amount required is shown on top right corner of the Industry tile. Beer is consumed from the following sources:
  1. Your unflipped breweries and must be connected to the location where beer is needed.
  2. An opponent’s unflipped brewery and must be connected to the location where beer is needed.
  3. The space beside a Merchant tile that you are selling to.
Beer may be consumed from different sources if multiple beer barrels are needed. Consumed beer barrels are returned to general supply.

Actions

Build Action – allows placing of Industry Tiles onto a board location.

Build Action

1. Discard a card
Location card

Used to build any Industry tile at the named location on the card, even if the location is not part of your network

Wild Location card

May be played as any Location card (does not include the 2 Farm Breweries)

Industry Card

Build Industry tile that matches icon in top card corner.

Wild Industry Card

May be played as any industry card.

2. Place Industry Tile

Take your chosen lowest level tile from your player mat and place (side with black top half face down) on your chosen undeveloped build location space, obeying the following rules:

  • if possible, place it on a space displaying only that industry’s icon
  • otherwise, place it on space displaying that industry’s icon with another industry’s icon
  • If no undeveloped spaces display your  industry’s icon, you may not place it in that location
3. Industry Tile Costs

The Industry tile cost is displayed, to the left of its slot, on your Player Mat. Pay money onto your Character tile on the Turn Order Track, and consume
any required iron and coal. Remember: If coal is required, the location you are building in must be connected to a source of coal (see “Consuming Coal” and “Connected Locations”).

4. Building a Coal Mine or Iron Works

If Coal Mine or Iron Works is built, place coal or iron (from the General Supply) onto the Industry tile, equal to the quantity shown in tile’s bottom right corner.

5. Building a Brewery

If Brewery is built, place 1 beer barrel on the Industry tile if it is built during the Canal Era, or 2 beer barrels if it is built during the Rail Era.

6. Moving Coal and Iron to the Market

If you build either a:
• Coal Mine that is connected to any Merchant space
(even those without Merchant tiles);
or
• Iron Works, regardless of whether or not it is connected

Immediately move as many cubes as possible from the Industry tile to available spaces in its associated Market (filling the most expensive spaces first).

For each cube moved, collect the corresponding amount of money displayed on the coin to the left side of its Market space.

If the last cube is moved from your Industry tile to its Market, flip
the Industry tile and advance your Income Marker along the Progress Track by the number of spaces shown in the bottom right corner of the tile.

7. Building if you have no tiles on the board

To build, you may also (as an action) discard:
• An Industry card to build the matching Industry tile in any location with
an undeveloped space displaying that industry’s icon;
• Any card to build a Link tile on any undeveloped line on the board

8. Farm Breweries

There are 2 unnamed locations, each with 1 space displaying a Brewery icon; these are Farm Breweries.

  • You may only build in these locations using a Brewery Industry card or a Wild Industry card.
  • A Link tile is required to connect Cannock to the Farm Brewery to its left.
  • A Link tile placed between Kidderminster and Worcester also connects both locations to the Farm Brewery to their left. A second Link tile is not required; nor may it be placed there.
9. Canal Era Building

You may have a maximum of 1 Industry tile per location, but may have an
Industry tile in the same location as other players.

Industry tiles with a right shaded semi-circle icon to the left of their slot on your Player Mat may not be built.

10. Rail Era Building

You may build multiple Industry tiles in each location.

Industry tiles with a light shaded left semi-circle to the left of their slot on your Player Mat may not be built. To remove these tiles (and access the higher-level tiles) you must perform the Develop action.

11. Overbuilding

Sometimes you are allowed to replace an already placed Industry tile with a higher level tile of the same industry type (you must still pay the necessary build costs).
This is known as Overbuilding. When Overbuilding:
If the tile you are replacing is your own :

  • You may Overbuild any Industry tile.
  •  If there are any iron / coal / beer on the tile being replaced, place them back into the General Supply.

If the tile you are replacing is owned by an opponent :

  • You may Overbuild only a Coal Mine or an Iron Works.
  • There must be no resource cubes on the entire board, including in its Market, of the same type as the Industry tile being replaced.

Remove overbuilt Industry tiles from the game, and return them to the box (they
will not score VPs). Players do not lose previously gained income or VPs if their
Industry tiles are overbuilt.

 

 

Sell Action

Performing the Sell action allows you to flip built Cotton Mill, Manufacturer, and Pottery tiles.

Selling requires:

  • Connection to a Merchant tile.
  • Beer (usually)

Performing sell action:

  1. Discard any card from your hand and place it face up onto your Discard Pile.
    Exception: Wild cards are placed back onto their Card Draw Area
  2. Choose 1 of your unflipped Cotton Mill, Manufacturer, or Pottery tiles, that is connected to a Merchant tile featuring that industry’s icon
  3. Consume the required amount of beer, shown in the Industry tile’s top right corner. If there is a beer barrel on the space beside the Merchant tile you are selling to, you may consume this beer as part
    of the Sell action, and collect the Merchant beer bonus.
  4. Flip the Industry tile and advance your  Income Marker along the Progress Track by the number of spaces shown in the bottom right corner of the tile.
  5. You may go back to step 2 and repeat the process for each of your unflipped Industry tiles (including those of a different industry).
    Note: You cannot perform the Sell action if you cannot consume
    the required beer (see “Consuming Beer”).

Merchant Beer Bonuses

Merchant beer may only be consumed as part of a Sell action. If you consume a
Merchant beer, you also receive the bonus displayed beside that Merchant tile’s location:

Develop (Gloucester)

Remove 1 of the lowest level tiles of any industry from your Player Mat (for no iron cost).
Exception: You cannot remove a Pottery tile showing an icon (see “Potteries and the Lightbulb Icon”).

Income (Oxford)

Advance your Income Marker 2 spaces along the Progress Track.

Victory Points (Nottingham and Shrewsbury)

Advance your VP Marker along the Progress Track by the number of spaces indicated. Advance your VP Marker along the Progress Track by the number of spaces indicated.

Money (Warrington)

Receive 5 pounds from the Bank.

Loan Action

Allows you to gain more money. Loan actions are not repaid but lower your income level.

  1. Discard any card from your Hand, and place it face up onto your Discard Pile.
    Exception: Wild cards are placed back onto their Card Draw Area.
  2. Take 30 pound from the bank, and move your Income Marker 3 income levels backwards down the Progress Track. Place your Income Marker on the highest space within the new lower income level.
    Exception: You cannot take a loan if it will take your income level below -10.

Scout Action

Action allows you to acquire Wild cards. 

  1. Discard any card from your Hand, plus 2 additional cards and place them face up onte your Discard Pile.
  2. Take 1 Wild Location and 1 Wild Industry card.

    Note: You may not perform this action if you already have a Wild card in your Hand.

Develop Action

Allows you to remove Industry tiles from your Player Mat. This allows you to gain access to higher-level Industry tiles without having to build all of the lower-level tiles of that industry.

  1. Discard any card from your Hand, and place it face up onto your Discard Pile.
    Exception: Wild cards are placed back onto their Card Draw Area.
  2. Remove 1 or 2 Industry tiles from your Player Mat, and return them
    to the box. Each Industry tile is removed separately and does not
    need to be of the same industry, but must be the lowest level tile of
    the chosen industry (as it is removed)
  3. Remove 1 or 2 Industry tiles from your Player Mat, and return them
    to the box. Each Industry tile is removed separately and does not
    need to be of the same industry, but must be the lowest level tile of
    the chosen industry (as it is removed)

b
Pottery tiles that show a icon may not be developed.
These tiles may only beremoved from your Player Mat through use of the Build action. They must be removed before you can access the higher-level Pottery tiles.

 

Network Action

Action allows you to place Link tiles, which expand your network and gain you access to new locations

  1. Discard any card from your Hand, and place it face up onto your
    Discard Pile. Exception: Wild cards are placed back onto their Card Draw Area.
  2. Place a Link tile on an undeveloped line on the board H . The placed
    Link tile must be adjacent to a location that is a part of your network 
    Exception: If you have no Industry or Link tiles on the board, you may
    place a Link tile on any undeveloped l ine (you must still consume coal if
    building a rail Link).

Network During Canal Era

  • You may not build rail Links.
  • You may build canal Links on undeveloped canal lines.
  • You may build a maximum of 1 canal Link for 3 pounds.

Network During Rail Era

  • You may not build canal Links.
  • You may build rail Links on undeveloped railroad lines.
  • You may build 1 rail Link for 5 pounds.
  • In a single Network action, you may build a maximum of 2 rail Links for
    £15, if you also consume 1 beer. This beer must be consumed from a
    Brewery (not a Merchant beer). Remember: If consuming beer from
    another player’s Brewery, it must be connected to the second rail Link (after it is placed).
  • You must consume 1 coal for each rail Link built (see “Consuming Coal”)
    Remember: Each rail Link is placed separately and must be connected to a
    source of coal (after it is placed).

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