Game Buzz: Starving Artists

Today, I wanted to take a look at a Kickstarter project that was recently sent out to backers called

image by BGG user Fairway3Games

Starving Artists is a game by designer Mike Wokasch that was published by Fairway 3 Games.  It’s for 1-4 players, and is a time/resource management game where players are trying to paint in order to survive, i.e. NOT starve.

The game comes with 150 paint cubes, a paint bag, 8 player tokens, a first player token, a scoring track printed on the inside of the box, 92 canvas cards, and 4 studio cards.  Each player gets a set of two player tokens and a studio card.  One player token goes on zero of the scoring track, and the other goes on nutrition level 5 of your studio card.  Each player will randomly draw six paint cubes from the bag, and three canvas cards are dealt face up into the canvas market.

image by BGG user markandmel

Starving Artists is played over a series of rounds, called days.  At the start of each day, the first player will add four cubes to the paint market.  Then all players will lower their nutrition by one (except the first day).  The first player will put the first player marker on morning of their studio card.

You will take two actions per day, one in the morning and one in the evening.  There are three possible actions:

  • WORK: Draw three cubes randomly from the paint bag.
  • BUY A NEW CANVAS: Pay the cost of a new canvas card from the market.  The cost is in paint cubes, and is equal to the canvas’ position in the market (1, 2, or 3).  Once a canvas is bought, shift the others down toward position one and place a new canvas in spot 3.  Paid cubes go to the paint market.
  • PAINT: You may apply up to four paint cubes to any number of canvases you own.  The colors needed are indicated on the card, with spaces on the necessary colors.  Some spaces overlap two colors, and either color can be used there.  You may use one wild cube (clear) per canvas.

In addition to these actions, you may take one free action per day.  This can be done in the morning or evening at any time during your turn.  Your options for free actions:

  • TRADE: Trade 2, 5, or 9 paint cubes for 1, 2, or 3 other paint cubes.  Trades are made with the market.
  • RESET THE CANVAS MARKET: Pay two paint cubes to the market to discard the cards in the canvas market and replace them with three new canvases.

At the end of the day, each player may sell any number of completed paintings they have.  This will increase your nutrition by the food value of the painting, and you also score points.  All used cubes go to the bag.  Then you collect paint cubes according to the paint value of your painting.  These cubes are chosen from the market, and are chosen in order of who had the highest paint value (who takes 4 cubes at a time), the second highest (2 cubes at a time), and everyone else (1 at a time in player order).  This continues until everyone has taken as many cubes as allowed by their sold paintings, or until the paint market is empty.

After selling and getting paid, the first player token passes to the left and a new day begins.  If a player’s nutrition dips below one, they are eliminated and everyone else has one more day.  Otherwise, the game will end when someone completes a certain number of paintings or scores a certain number of points (these totals are determined by the number of players).

image by BGG user Fairway3Games

I tend to like games themed around the creation of art, and this one looks really REALLY cool.  The components seem really nice, and the gameplay looks like it offers a bunch of tough decisions.  It doesn’t seem like a necessarily complex game to understand, but knowing when to do what might give people a headache.  I was going to call them out for creating a game that was not color blind friendly, but there is advice for how to play if you have trouble distinguishing colors.  Part of that is the color distribution at the bottom of the card – placing the colors doesn’t matter as long as you have the right amount in the right distribution.  The color distribution is in spectrum order, and as long as you have been able to sort the colors as you play, you should be OK.

I first heard about this game on Heavy Cardboard, and I think they were under the impression that selling paintings could either be points OR food.  It seems to me that you get both when selling, so that might turn them off – they tend to be a little masochistic on that podcast.  For me, I think it looks like a great game and I’d be happy to play if I was able to find a copy out in the wild.

Thanks for reading!


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