Inspired by all the great answers to the similar question about Power Grid, I'd love to hear some suggestions for Brass. I picked it up a little over a month ago, and we've only gotten it onto the table once. We pretty much struggled through it (ultimately, only finishing the Canal phase). I now feel like we have a basic grasp of the game mechanics, but basically no clue about strategy.

I know the rules have a whole page devoted to this, but I like bullet points! ;)

  • A fantastic game. Definitely in my top 10!
    – Codemwnci
    Oct 28, 2010 at 18:19
  • Good luck with having got the rules right with one play, keep revisiting them, they're not written well, and are a little bit complicated. Oct 29, 2010 at 8:36
  • @Lance I agree. The rules are hard to follow, somewhat difficult to decipher. I think it would be greatly received if someone re-wrote the rules to make a little more sense.
    – Codemwnci
    Oct 29, 2010 at 18:26

4 Answers 4


Loans in Brass can be key to a successful game. Loans at the very beginning are very cheap to repay, where as loans later in the game can be very expensive. If you are likely to need a loan at any point during the game (which you almost certainly will), I would advise you to take the loan early.

Some other pieces of advice I would offer.

  • Try to get some level 2 buildings in place before the end of the canal phase. It will make your position stronger. Choose the buildings that offer the most strategic positioning as the ones to upgrade, if you can.
  • If you opponents are fighting it out for the Shipyard pieces, try to concentrate on the cotton route. The level 4 cotton buildings give victory points of 12 each when flipped. Two of these give you a better return (for far less manoeuvring) than a single ship.
  • If the iron or coal demand track has a few spaces empty, consider building immediately, to repopulate the demand track. You will potentially get the tile flipped immediately, and make some money for your troubles.
  • Don't discount the idea of using two cards to place any industry on any city. Some will see this as a waste of a turn, but it can give you a tactical edge when there are few other options available.
  • Thanks @Codemwnci. I'm probably going to have to read the instructions again just to understand your third bullet point. :)
    – livingtech
    Nov 16, 2010 at 19:56
  • That specific rule for point. When you build an iron or coal building. You need to add a certain number of cubes to the tile. However, if the coal/iron demand track has spaces empty, you place the cubes on the demand track first. This makes it quicker for the tile to flip, and you get money from selling to the demand track (the amount indicated on the track). This can be very lucrative when the demand track is empty.
    – Codemwnci
    Nov 16, 2010 at 20:53

I posted 25+ bullets on Brass strategy here. The Cliff's Notes:

  • Build only 1-2 level-1 industries. Develop early and often. Do not build the L1 Shipyard or L1 Port, period.
  • Build as few canal links as possible
  • Location cards are more important than Industry cards in the Canal Phase; the opposite is true in the Rail Phase
  • If stuck at end of Canal Phase, build Coal Mines and take loans, the Coal mines will flip at the start of the Rail Phase, taking you out of the hole.
  • Build Rail Links early and often for maximum points and to expand your personal network.
  • Avoid building Coal Mines during the Rail Phase
  • Seal the Shipyards if in position
  • Overbuild your nearest rival's Iron Works
  • Be careful if you don't sell Cotton immediately after building; ensure the others can't empty out the Distant Market + Ports before your next turn
  • Try to hang out in Seat 4 most of the time (if you're spending the most money, you're probably getting the most points), then string together 4 consecutive actions before a key rival can take another turn at a crucial juncture.

I disagree with the above statement about loans. A loan when you already have enough capital to do something constructive (e.g. opening turn) is poor, because you could have taken it later and paid less interest. Equally a loan very late in the game that allows you to do something that you couldn't otherwise do (e.g. build a big ship for more VPs than your alternative plays) is very cheap... who cares about going backwards on the income track if there's no more turns to come?

A good time to take a loan is just before you expect to progress on the income track, and the farther back along the track the better, but your need for capital to get the VP machine rolling is more important.

  • 1
    Note that you are not allowed to take a loan very late in the game. According to the rules, you can't take a loan after the draw pile is exhausted, which means there are at going to be four turns still to go with the cards still in your hand. Dec 11, 2013 at 9:09

More of a tactic than a strategy, but I think it's important:

In the last turn of the canal phase, assuming nobody before you has paid nothing and you have a level-2 building on the board, it is worth considering getting 2 loans: Having paid nothing, you will be in first place at the start of the rail phase, during which you could use some of your new found cash to buy 4 tracks at once, giving you more options to place buildings (using industry cards) and hopefully grabbing some of the best links with lots of VPs at the end.

In anticipation for that, on the previous turn, build a level-2 coal mine if you can.

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