Broken & Beautiful: A Game About Kintsugi
Broken and Beautiful honors the art of Kintsugi, where broken pottery is repaired with golden lacquer. In Kintsugi, breakage and repair are beautiful facets of an object’s unique history. In the game, you’ll draft pottery cards, manage their breakage, and repair them to increase their value.
Broken and Beautiful is played with a deck of 46 game cards. These represent pottery, gold, serving trays, and storage boxes, commonly found in many Japanese homes. Both sides of the pottery cards are important in the game. One side shows the unbroken object; the other side shows the repaired side, with golden veins connecting the broken pieces.
The cards also have an icon which tells you what class of goods it depicts: cup, saucer, plate, bowl, tea jar, vase, teapot, serving tray, or storage box.
Each card shows a number of gold ingots in the lower left corner. This is the cost to repair the item, should it break.
In addition, there are 4 player reference cards, 14 gold ingots made of wood, and a First Player marker.
To set up a game of Broken and Beautiful, you’ll orient the cards unbroken side up, and give them a shuffle.
Pick a start player for the first round. The player who most recently washed the dishes would be a fitting choice.
Now deal a group of pottery cards to the table equal to two times the player count, plus one. In a 3 player game, this would be 7 cards.
(Hint: It is helpful to lay out the pottery cards each round with like items grouped together. This way, everyone can clearly see how many of each are available.)
Now you’re ready to play Broken and Beautiful.
In Broken and Beautiful, you choose pottery cards to keep as part of your collection or to sell. Then certain pottery cards will break and players will have an opportunity to repair them, provided they can pay enough gold. Each type of pottery scores in a different way and this score can be enhanced if pottery is repaired. The goal to amass the most beautiful collection of pottery and score the most points
Broken and Beautiful follows a simple four-step round structure:
1)Prepare for the Draft
During the draft, each player will select two cards. The start player selects one card, followed by the player to the left
When you select a card, you have two options. Either you put the card in your collection, or you sell the card for gold. If you put the card in your collection, place the card, unbroken side up, in front of you on the table. If you sell the card, take the number of ingots shown on the lower left corner of the card.
Once the last player takes a card, the order of play reverses. The last player selects their second card, followed by the player to the right, and ending with the start player. In game terms, this is known as a snake draft.
After each player has taken two cards, one card will remain unchosen. This card and the card on top of the draw deck will determine which pieces will break.
Remember both sides of the cards are significant in Broken & Beautiful. The top of the draw deck will display a piece of pottery, just like the card that was not chosen.
If a cup and a bowl are the remaining two cards, then all cups and all bowls in every player’s collection will break. Turn these cards sideways to show they are now broken.
But don’t despair! The game is all about celebrating the repair of everyday objects and making them more beautiful.
Starting with the first player, each player may repair an item. The cost to repair your first item is shown in ingots on the card. A broken cup may be repaired by paying one gold, for example. Simply return that ingot to the general supply, and flip the card to its repaired side.
When you do, you’ll notice the repaired cup is now worth more points than before. On its normal side, a cup was worth one point. Broken, it is worth nothing. But when you repair it, it now is worth 3 points. It has become both broken and beautiful–and more valuable!!
After all players have had a chance to repair their first broken item, everyone has a chance to repair a second item, but the cost goes up! Repairing your second item costs one gold more than the price listed on the card. Your third repair costs 2 gold more and so on.
When all repairs are done, pass the start player marker to the next player in turn order, and set up for another round. The game ends when you can no longer deal out enough cards to hold another draft.
Now everyone will total up the points for their collection. Each item scores in its own unique way.
Cups score one point.
Saucers score nothing on their own, but when paired with a cup, double the cup’s worth.
Plates are worth 6 points,but only if you have a pair of them. A single plate scores no points.
Bowls are worth the number of them in your collection. That is, if you have 3 bowls, they are each worth 3 points apiece.
Tea jars will score you 6 points, but only if you have the most tea jars.
Vases are worth 1 point if you have just one, 5 points for two. Collect all three, and you get 15 points.
Teapots are worth as many points as you have other pottery with a matching pattern.
Finally, there are the wooden storage trays and storage boxes. Trays just score 2 points. Storage boxes are worth as many points as you have left over gold.
But that’s only half the story. The scoring for every item is enhanced when they are repaired. For example, pair a regular cup and saucer, and you’ll score 3 points. But if both have been repaired, the cup is now worth 3, and the saucer triples that to 9 points.
The key concept is that every object has value, but repaired objects enable new or enhanced scoring opportunities. In the end you’ll add up your points, remembering that broken pieces score nothing. The player with the most points is the winner!
Broken and Beautiful presents us with a paradox: a simple set of choices with hidden depth and complexities. The game is easy to learn, but in the playing, thoughtful challenges reveal themselves.
Every choice you make is both a choice of taking and leaving. You take a card to add to your scoring possibilities, but what are you leaving for others?
Do you concentrate your collection on one or two items, or spread it out among a wide range, hoping to maximize your scoring chances by fixing your items that break?
And what card will ultimately be left to break at the end of the round? Can you plan for this, knowing that some of your goods may break? With each choice, you play a little side game of “What will everyone else do?” Can you foresee the consequences of their choices?
How will you manage your gold, knowing that you’ll need to make repairs, and enhance the value of your collection? All these questions spin out from one choice: take a card.
The simple act of selecting a single card is actually two choices in one. Do I take this card for my collection or for the gold?
By themselves, gold cards can’t score you points. But you need gold to repair your broken goods. Or maybe you should leave the gold, as a gold card left at the end of drafting allows everyone one free repair.
And you should always be mindful that the game will be over more quickly than you think.. As soon as four short rounds. As few as eight not-so-simple choices packed into a 15 minute game
Broken and Beautiful is a game which will surely provoke someone to say, “Let’s play that again.”
Broken and Beautiful celebrates everyday objects. As they are, they serve as humble vessels for food and drink, making our daily existence easier.
But these everyday objects can break and become useless. Rather than toss them out, the philosophy behind Kintsugi says to honor them for their utility by repairing them.
Something artful and important happens when you take the time to mend a broken thing. The act of repairing a common object reveals an inner beauty, a hidden beauty we might never witness. Kintsugi says a broken thing is more beautiful and more valuable for its uniqueness.
The same is true of people. Some of the wisest, most interesting people are those who have been damaged and sought repair. An addict now turned counselor. A life, once riddled by hatred, now dedicated to peace. A cancer victim inspiring hope in others.
As players, we all come to the table with flaws and imperfections. Playing a game like Broken and Beautiful can help us appreciate our own brokenness, and the beauty which lies beneath, waiting to be discovered.
Broken and Beautiful is like that thoughtful, practical gift you received long ago. That favorite mug, which became chipped. Those sewing scissors, now worn. The favorite hammer you’ve had to tape together that still fits your hand so well.
Every time you put it to use, you’re reminded of the hidden beauty in everyday items. A beauty which emerges over time, even as the objects wear down from use.
A game like Broken and Beautiful contains hidden pleasures you’ll only discover when you play. It seems humble and simple on the surface but there are subtle and beautiful strategies waiting to emerge and available to all.
It is an honor to place Broken & Beautiful in our collection, an elegant reminder of the hidden beauty you can find in Major Fun.
Written by: Doug Richardson