Marco Ruskowski &
Marcel Süßelbeck


No. of Players:
2 - 4

G@mebox Star



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Can you use the painting of a fresco as a game theme? Yes, you can! Marco Ruskowski and Marcel Süßelbeck have left the merchants/princes/heroes-fight-for-fame-and-influence-monotony in most of the better known games of the last years. Instead, in Fresko the players take the role of painters who must buy colours at a market in the morning, paint some parts of a huge Fresco at midday, do some order paintings in the afternoon and mix new colours in the evening. And the authors did it very brilliant. And to round the whole thing up, QUEEN GAMES has spent the game rich and nice game materials and a clearly divided board. Apropos QUEEN GAMES: not only had they the courage to try a atypical game theme, they also said goodbye to the famous rectangular box and adopted the common square box instead. It seems like the old Settlers-format-box is getting more and more common - perhaps some day we will have a standard box, we will see...


The board is divided into six different sections. Four of them represent the different areas where the players perform their actions, the other two are for the storage of the colours and the money, in this game, it is Thalers.

Each round of the game consists of two phases that are played one after the other by all players. In the first phase, beginning with the current start player, every one chooses a time when he wants to get up. Each hour (5-9 o'clock) can only be chosen by one player and has its own chances and risks. Getting up early will clearly improve the choice of colours at the market in the next phase. On the other hand, painters are not known as early risers and so an early wake-up time worsens the mood significantly. This influences the number of assistants a player possesses and this assistants are needed to do the actions in phase two. Last but not least, an early bird must pay higher prices at the market, too.


In phase two, the players can do five different actions. At the beginning of the phase each player secretly chooses which action he wants to use. For this, he places his assistants on a small board behind a screen on the symbols of the corresponding actions. Each action can be chosen three times. But the assistants are limited. If the players painter is in a very good mood he has a maximum of six assistants, but with a worsening mood this number can decrease to four. Then it is not even possible to do each action once. So the players have to be careful in phase one, otherwise there is not much left to do in this round for the painter. Now what are the possible actions?

  • First of all a visit at the market place should be a must in each round. Each assistant gives the player the possibility to buy a colour from a market stall, the player may choose. Additional assistants ensure another colour from the same market stall, if the player still has enough money left. After the player has finished his buy, the stall is cleared, so no other player can buy from this stall any more. So you can see that getting up early has its advantages, too....
  • The second action enables the player's painter to paint a part of the fresco in the middle of the board. Each part of the huge fresco needs its own colours and the player has to give these colours away to paint. As a reward he gets the indicated victory points. If the bishop is on the same part of the fresco or adjacent to it, he even gets some bonus points. The bishop can be moved for a payment at the beginning of the painting phase. As an alternative to working at the fresco, the player also can restore something in the altar, which brings him victory points, too.
  • That brings us to the next question. How does a painter earn money. It is quite easy. He only has to paint some portraits with the third possible action. This gives him an income of three Thalers for each portrait.
  • Some colours are very expensive and rarely available at the market stalls. But there is another possibility with the fourth actions. A painter can mix the colours by himself. To do so, he only has to use the right colours and he will get a beautiful new colour. Probably his opponents will become envious soon.
  • Last but not least, a player can invite his assistants to the theatre. Of course this will rise their mood significantly and the last early wake-up will be forgiven soon.

The game ends, when the fresco is nearly completed. Then one last round is played and the player with the most victory points wins the game.


Following QUEEN GAMES' philosophy, Fresko already comes with three mini expansions that vary the basic game slightly, and I am quite sure that we will see the one or other expansion soon. Hearing some first announcements for an expansion to become available at the upcoming SPIEL 2010 convention makes me quite happy, because in my opinion Fresko has the chance to become a very successful and popular game, perhaps even reaching a level of popularity like Der Palast von Alhambra. The very good design and the refreshing new theme of the game should guarantee the success of the game, and in addition the worker-placement mechanism on which the game is driven has seen some quite interesting new twists in the Fresko-rules. I really like the decision process at the beginning of each round when the players have to determine at what time their painters should get up - this mechanism is fitting both thematically and for the game's mechanics. You can easily imagine an eccentric artist who likes to sleep over sending his devoted assistants to the market to get some urgently needed colours, while at the same time the unpopular early bird already has started working. In game terms, this situation creates a nice dilemma for the players which leads to an interesting balancing act.

Fresko was a nominee for the Spiel des Jahres awards, but in the end it was beaten by the rather differently orientated Dixit. However, the game should be quite popular with families and hobbyists alike, and so it will be interesting to see how Fresko will fare with this year's Deutscher Spiele Preis. Due to the easy-to-learn rules and the typical consecutive game phases following a typical day routine, the game catches on with a lot of occasional gamers. On the other hand, the game works perfectly and there is no time to get bored, because all players constantly are involved.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2010 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany