Review – Broken and Beautiful: A Game About Kintsugi

pic6797197

 

Designer Patrick Rauland

Artist Shirley Gong

Publisher Left Justified Studio

Category Card Drafting

Length 15 minutes

Release Date 2023

Player Count 2-4

Broken and Beautiful: A Game About Kintsugi is a card drafting game of repairing broken pottery. In this game, players acquire cups, plates, teapots, etc., and each round, certain pieces break. Broken pottery is worthless, but pieces that have been broken and repaired are worth even more than ones that never broke! Let’s check it out.

Review

Broken and Beautiful puts 2-4 players in the role of Japanese artisans, carefully repairing broken pottery with gold. The goal of the game is to earn the most points.

The game consists of a deck of pottery cards and a pool of gold brick resources. Each round, a tableau of cards is dealt to a central display—2 cards per player, plus 1 card.

Example tableau for a 3-player game. Since a saucer card is on top of the deck, players know that any unbroken saucers in their possession will break at the end of the round.

Using a “snake draft” order, players then take turns choosing cards from the display. Each player drafts 2 cards, such that 1 card will remain undrafted at the end of the round. The type of pottery shown on that card, as well as the type shown on the top card of the deck, will break for all players. (For example, if the remaining cards showed a plate and a teapot, then all plate and teapot cards which had not yet broken would break.) Broken cards are rotated 90°.

A serving tray was left undrafted at the end of the round. Since this player has unbroken serving trays, they all break. (Luckily, the player did not have any saucers, otherwise they would have broken too.) The teapot is not affected.

When a piece breaks, it can be repaired by spending gold. The base cost for each repair is the number of gold pieces shown in the lower-left of the card. The first repair each round costs its base value, and each successive repair costs its value plus additional gold—1 extra for the second repair, 2 extra for the third, and so on. To gain more gold, a player can discard a card they draft to take the number of gold pieces shown on the card.

The player has 2 gold, so they can repair 1 broken tray. The other tray will remain broken until the player can acquire more gold.

When a broken item gets repaired, the card is turned over to its white, “repaired” side. It is now worth more than it was originally, and it cannot break again.

Play continues in this manner until players can no longer deal enough cards to begin a new round. At that time, the game ends and players tally their scores. The different kinds of pottery score in traditional ways—set collection, majorities, pairs, flat points, etc.—and the player with the highest score wins.


I had the pleasure of playing Broken and Beautiful with designer Patrick Rauland at Dice Tower West. I was immediately taken with its theme and art, and I found its relaxing gameplay to be a perfect metaphor for the actual, zen-like artistry of kintsugi. Drafting can be a fairly nasty mechanism, but Broken and Beautiful remains an overall friendly experience. It’s light and quick to play, but players’ decisions definitely matter.

My favorite aspect of this game is the interplay between what a player takes and what they leave behind. Players have some control over what breaks each round, so someone may take a card that isn’t their first choice, just to prevent that type of vessel from breaking. (Or they may try to cause something to break if an opponent has a lot of it.) The strategy here is not that deep, but it’s enough to keep the game interesting.

The production of this game is very nice, with attractive card art and a super-compact box. The gold pieces are painted wood, though a deluxe edition of the game with metal resources is also available. (I played this deluxe version at Dice Tower West, and I can confirm that the metal bits are great.) A minor gripe with Broken and Beautiful is that the cups and bowls can be tough to differentiate at a glance. The type icons and card illustrations are both quite similar, so players may mix them up from time to time. It’s not a significant issue, but it should be mentioned.

Overall, I really enjoy this game. It fits in the same category as titles like Herbaceous and Sunset Over Water; like those games, Broken and Beautiful is relaxing to play and lovely to look at. If you enjoy easygoing games with a strong aesthetic, check this one out.

A review copy was provided by Left Justified Studio.

The Bottom Line

Broken and Beautiful is a lovely game with an attractive aesthetic. Its relaxing gameplay echoes the actual zen-like artistry of kintsugi. Recommended for fans of drafting.

 

7.5

Author: Stephen Hall

A bard pretending to be a cleric. Possibly a Cylon, too. I was there when they dug up the "E.T." cartridges.