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“Come and take a gander at all the wonderful thing’s we’ve managed to blag for Queen and country!” says the museum curator. Or, at least that’s what I was saying to the unseen yet assuredly massive crowds visiting my museum. Not my real museum obviously. My boardgame Museum.
Museum is all about turn-of-the-century museumry (verb: bold facedly stealing precious artefacts from other countries) and set collection. You are put in the shiny curator shoes of one of four famous museums and are tasked with creating the best exhibits, hiring the best staff, and pleasing your patrons. To do this, each round you take one of the exposed cards from the four continents (Africa/Middle EAst, America/Pacific, Europe, or Asia) and add it to your hand. From here you have two main choices: take cards out of your discard pile or place items into your museum. To place cards into your museum, you ‘pay’ for them by discarding other cards equal to their value. But by discarding, players can then take from your discard pile and potentially get the card they need to complete their secret patron goal.
These patron goals make all the difference and can be quite tricky to achieve. Some are straightforward “make as many sets of 5” or as difficult as “Get 7 Japanese Civilisation cards and 5 War Domain cards”. In our first game, even getting a rule wrong that allowed me to chain the most expensive cards in the game and gain upwards of 15 points per round, I still lost because my opponent was able to fully complete their patron card while I ignored mine.
After adding to your museum or discarding, you’re able to hire from the current roster of experts available, all of which have special abilities. Some might count towards a particular Domain (war, agriculture, theology, etc) or a particular Culture (Chinese, Celtic, Indian, etc) or have more business minded abilities like reducing the cost of exhibiting artefacts or gaining more renown.
And just like that, Museum feels like a strong set-collection game. With public opinion cards penalising unexhibited artefacts from the affected regions, headline cards changing the rules each round, and favour cards providing helpful powers, Museum feels like a vivid simulation of its source material.
But what makes Museum really shine is that each card references a real historical object and has beautiful art to represent it. The main reason I picked Museum up in the first place was it’s beautiful cover art and I’m glad to see that that level of quality is present throughout.
The rulebook is a little daunting at first but play a practice round or two and you’ll see how it all falls together. The only issue we had was remembering to reveal a new headline card and move the experts along at the end of the round.
Even if you’re not a history buff and just want some solid game design from your boardgame, Museum is a great choice and has a bunch of expansions for those looking to sink their teeth in deeper. From the World Fair to Black Market trading and even Cthulhu Relics, Museum has loads for invested players.
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