Museum Pictura

About six months ago, we had the chance to try out Museum. We loved the game so much that we have bought all the expansions the game has to offer. So when we learned the creators of Museum would release another museum game but about paintings, we were ready to open our museum once again, but this time with all the masters of paint. Since I studied Art of Design and visited many museums in my life, I was very curious to see how this game would look like and how the art would come to life in our museums.

How to play.

For the setup place the board on the table. Then Place the trend cards and favor cards face down on the board and place one trend card face up on the designated spot. Shuffle the painting cards and place them face down in a spot accessible to all players. Draw a trend card for each international museum shown on the central board and place it on the left of that museum. Also draw four painting cards per museum. If a painting card has a matching icon, color or number of the trend card, place it on the left column of that museum. If nothing matches, place it in the right column. Next place the end of game token on the 50 space of the score track. Place the patron board adjacent to the central board and shuffle the patron cards before placing them. Draw five patron cards to be placed face up on the patron board. Place the exhibition board also adjacent to the central board and separate all the tokens into pairs based on their icon or color. Place the token with a three on top of each pair on the exhibition board. Each player takes a museum board, five painting cards a favor card and places their favor token on the ten points space of the scoring track. Then give each player three trend cards. Every player chooses one and shuffle the other two back in the deck. The first player token can be placed on the four points space of the scoring track. The second will be placed on three, third on two and fourth on one. You are now ready to build your own museum filled with paintings.

On your turn, you start with the acquisition phase. First you draw two painting cards from the art market (painting cards deck). Other players may see how many cards you have, but the information on the cards is always kept secret. You may have up to eight painting cards and three favor cards in your hand at the end of your turn. On each painting card, you will find a number, a symbol and a color. If you have four paintings with a matching number, symbol or color, they form a collection. The bigger the collection, the more points you will score at the end of the game. After taking two cards, you have to exchange a card from your hand with one of the international museums on the central board. If you place a painting card that matches the number, symbol or color of the trend card from the museum you are exchanging with, you gain the prestige shown on the trend card. If the international museum of Tokyo has a trend card with number 15, an apple and a blue color active for example. You will gain two points if you give a card with an apple symbol on it. If the card matches multiple things from the trend card, only gain the highest score. If you however take a painting card from a museum that matches something on a trend card, you lose that many points. Always update the score track immediately. You always have to place a card and take a card during the acquisition phase.

After the acquisition phase, comes the action phase where you can perform one out of three actions and free actions. One action to take is to improve your museum. To do this, discard one painting card from your hand to your discard pile, since it’s not free to add new paintings, then place a painting card from your hand into your museum. Note that every player has it’s own discard pile face up next to their museum. There is no common discard pile for painting cards. You may also exhibit painting cards from other players discard piles. For this, you still discard one of your own cards first, but you also lose one prestige point on the scoring track. The player that you take the painting from, will gain a prestige point. You can never exhibit paintings from your own discard pile this way. You may move your paintings freely during the game to see if you can make bigger and better collections. You form a collection by placing four paintings horizontally or vertically adjacent with matching symbols, numbers or colors. If you exhibit a painting card, also consult the active trend card on the central board. If a painting you exhibited matches a number, symbol or color, you gain the prestige points shown on the card.

You can also choose to open a temporary exhibition as an action. Choose one of your current collections in your museum and score it’s value in prestige points. Then take the top exhibition token that matches the collection you are scoring and place it on a reward space of your choice on your museum board. The rewards that you can unlock can be immediate or even permanent effects to help you win the game. You can only perform a temporary exhibit if there are still matching tokens of that collection present and each player can do maximal six temporary exhibitions.
Lastly you can take inventory. This allows you to take painting cards from your discard back into your hand and take a favour card. Then you may also discard all face up patron cards and replace them with five new cards.

Aside from your main action, there are a couple of free actions you can take. You can play a favor card. Favor cards give you different benefits like taking cards back from your discard pile for example. You may draw a new favor card when you reach your favor token. This starts at the 10th space and moves 10 spaces every time it’s reached. You can also acquire a patron if you exhibit the painting cards of the types shown on patron cards. Patron cards let you choose to gain prestige points or effects that help you with your game like choosing an extra painting card for example. At the end of your turn, check your hand size and discard if necessary. Once all players have taken a turn, pick a new public trend card and start over. If a player reaches 50 prestige points, the end of game will be triggered. The player that reached 50 points receives five bonus prestige points and all other players can still play one more turn before final counting. Then during final counting, count the prestige points from your collections, hidden trend cards, temporary exhibition bonus, grand gallery placement and full museum placement bonus if the requirements are met. The player with the most prestige points, wins the game.

Playthrough of the game.

I have discovered I’m not very good at this game. Just when I’m trying to figure out my strategy out of the many choices this game has to offer, I get distracted by yet another Van Gogh painting I must display in my museum. Do I notice that this is a very bad trade for my prestige points at the moment? No… But I do have another painting of one of my favorite master painters. Even when it’s not my turn, I feel myself drifting off to see what paintings are in my hands, my museum and on the table. Aside from all the pretty paintings to look at, I’m happy to have so many options in the game. Tomasz always tries to make the biggest collections and to fill his museum to score more points. Unfortunately I’m very bad at seeing those patterns in my museum up front and I will never be able to defeat him that way. In our last game, I lost with only three points by making the best trades, using favor cards at the best moments and most of all going for temporary exhibitions. Who knows, maybe I’ll defeat him one day.

It is such a pleasure during every game to see all kinds of paintings coming forward in each game. With 180 different painting cards, your museum and collections will never be the same. Just like the original Museum, this game is a big puzzle every time. What hidden trend card do I have and can I get matching painting cards, or will I focus on temporary exhibitions to score bonuses and points? I can also try to score by trading paintings to the right museums to get prestige points which will give me more favour cards. Or, do I focus in my endgame, making the best collections I possibly can. There is a lot to think about.
There are a lot of similarities between Museum and Museum Picture. Just like in Museum, you have to score the most prestige points and you can make collections to score a lot of points. The style of the cards and art is also very similar and again very nicely done. However, there are also differences. One of the biggest differences can be found in the first phase of both games. In Museum, every player gets a chance to take cards during the first phase, while in Museum Pictura only the active player gets to take two cards. In both games there are favor cards, but in Museum you have headline cards who kind of act like events, where in Museum Pictura, you have trend cards who allows you to score up to three prestige points extra each round. All together, the creators have made both games feel the same while making the necessary differences for both themes.

Final Thoughts.

Museum Pictura is the follow up of the Museum board game where you have to build the best museum by creating collections, hold exhibitions and enjoy 180 different kind of painting cards. Since I am a big fan of painting when it comes to different types of art, I love every inch of this game. The gameplay is smooth, pretty easy to learn but with a lot of depth and all the great masters of history can be collected in your museum. Even though there are some differences with Museum, Museum Pictura feels very similar and still has it’s own kind of gameplay. We are happy with both Museum’s in our collection, but are divided in our favorites. Tomasz still likes to create a museum with objects, where I like to collect and display different paintings. But seeing how many expansions Museum has received after some time, who knows what the future hold for Museum Pictura and maybe I’ll convince Tomasz paintings are not so bad either.

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