Posts about Muck And Brass

Muck & Brass — Revision #71 release

Well that was fast!

Thanks to Tim Harrison, there are two substantive rules clarifications in this release:

  • If nobody bids on a Capitalised bank share then the active player loses 3 months
  • Secondary company shares are not available at all until after the 3rd General Dividend

Unless you’re likely to be playing 5 player games, and likely even then, there’s no need to print out a new map for either the #69 or #71 releases. Just grab the new rules and be done. Just remember that 5 player games have one more month than shown on the map if you’re playing with the older graphic.

The download file is in the same place as usual with 71 in the filename instead of the previous number.

Muck & Brass — Revision #69 released


  • Removed support for 6 players
  • Added a month to 5 player game
  • Small legibility changes to the map.

There are no other rules changes. The download file is in the same place as usual with 69 in the filename instead of the previous number.


Again, please append commentary, questions, reactions, thoughts etc1 as comments below so we may all easily track exactly what is being talked about.

  1. Please upload images and other media to the FTP server and then mention the upload in your comment. 

Muck & Brass — Revision #67 released

Thanks for all the great responses on the playtests so far!

There are no big changes in this new release, just clarifications, grammar and typo fixes to the rules. There have been no substantive rules changes. Playtesters can download the full distribution by changing the 65 in the super-sekrit filename to 67, or you can just download and print off the new rules as they’re the only thing that has changed in this release.

Again, please append commentary, questions, reactions, thoughts etc1 as comments below so we may all easily track exactly what is being talked about.

  1. Please upload images and other media to the FTP server and then mention the upload in your comment. 

Rules deux, n'est-ce pas?

New rules for Muck & Brass. There are no substantive changes, just a few minor clarifications for items already raised in the playtest discussion. The changelog:

  • Many missing commas fixed
  • Few typos fixed
  • Clarified bank pools
  • Clarified multiple ports in Liverpool and London
  • Fixed bad reference
  • No more merger shares (finished the job)

This is not an official re-release of the prototype (ie it doesn’t have a new release number). It is just a touch-up of the rules in attempt to say the same things they did before, more clearly. Enjoy.

Muck & Brass -- Revision #65 released

I have posted revision #65 of Muck & Brass1 to the distribution point and access instructions are about to be sent out2. Future releases will bear their own release numbers. Please append commentary, questions, reactions, thoughts etc as comments to each version’s announcement3 post so we may easily track exactly what is being talked about4.

  1. Yep, this is the 65th revision of the game since I started formal development. 

  2. I apologise for any roughness in the rules due to the various inserted notes for playtesting versus a presumed real copy. 

  3. Upload images and other media to the FTP server and then mention the upload in your comment. 

  4. If you’d you like to follow Muck & Brass development specifically, please use the Entries and Comments RSS feeds linked from the bar to the right. 

Be free my son, go forth and conquer

The playtest files for Muck & Brass are ready and I’m braced to let them rip on the unsuspecting. Those that have contacted me should expect to be receiving a message with the super-secret (hush now!) instructions on how download the files.

I’d like all textual feedback (session reports, questions, reactions, commentary etc) posted as comments on this blog, I’ll post an entry to the blog with each new release of the game files (hopefully there won’t be many) and y’all can append comments to that for feedback etc. Then as I make a new release, there will be a new post and an associated comment stream etc for that version of the game. I’m hopeful that the only needed changes to the game will be small rules tweaks for clarity and perhaps the odd adjustment of a port or city value1. Pictures, movies and other media are always welcome and may be sent to me via email or even better, uploaded to my anonymous FTP server at Please mention the FTP upload in a posted comment so I’ll know to get the files!

Brace yourself Edna, they’re comin’ ovah!

  1. Yeah, right! 

Mucho Duo

Another realisation that struck during last night’s 2 player game of Muck & Brass was the value and utility of using the secondary companies as capital sources for primary companies via mergers. For some reason that use hadn’t struck me but as a technique it worked out well in last night’s game. It also clarifies the strange see-saw of incentive and interest that run among clear plurality holdings, ports, mergers, capitalisation and turn order control. The end-game is rife with cases of money-losing investments being the levers necessary for even more profitable returns. The classic example from last night was a share of the LB&SCR which was purchased for $61 and rewarded a lifetime revenue of around $16, but enabled other activities and incentives with the L&SR that generated ~$200 in dividends.

It is a strange thing to discover one’s own game.

Deux duggery

Work and local testing is continuing apace. I’ve gotten in several games with the new rules (and scores of simulated games) and so far it is all looking good. The big surprise was today’s two player game which worked far better than I expected.

I shouldn’t be so surprised. Muck and Brass, unlike Wabash Cannonball / Pampas Railroads etc is not primarily an auction game, but is much more about positional and timing advantages than auction values. As such with only two players the auction becomes a linear extension of that two player tactical battle and really works quite well. Of course eventually one player will tend to run away and be simply uncatchable, but that’s to be expected in any two player zero-sum perfect and certain information game, and this should be recognised when it occurs and the game conceded at that point. Don’t be too quick to pull the trigger though: there’s an awful lot of ground that can be recovered with careful exploitation of the default turn order. Still, it is a pleasant surprise and I’ve added two player support to the map and rules (a small change in all).

The last change, and this is a small one, is that I added another port to Liverpool and London with costs around $100. The current distribution of ports and their costs is a mix of guesswork and inspiration. So far it has mostly seemed about right in our games. I’ve added the very expensive ports for Liverpool and London simply to allow trimming back late game behemoths with egregiously expensive (and historically accurate) ports, thus providing a dramatic and welcome turning point in the late game.

Counting charge

The next round appears to be done:



  • Images scaled to fit on US-Legal sized paper
  • The winner of a share pays time for a Capitalise, not necessarily the action selector
  • Time limit per round changes with player count (Thanks Tim!)
  • Moved the charters spaces off their own sheet onto the board edge, Wabash Cannonball-style
  • Put marked spaces on the charters for shares, sample colour markers etc
  • A few notes for playtesters in the rules
  • Several small clarifications of prices and edge/corner cases (eg no bids on a share)

New rules. I’ve worked through a few dozen simulated games with the changes and they worked well. The goal is to play face-to-face tonight and tomorrow night. If that proves out I’ll start sending copies to playtesters.

Selling souls on the bayou

Capitalisation may be too expensive. Too often the only correct bid is however much or one more than the player with the second most cash has. Sometimes the correct bid is to even bid more in order to fund the company or to hide cash for turn order advantage. Surprisingly rarely is it to bid less than the second richest player. The result is that the only player who has an incentive to choose Capitalise is the player with the most cash. This is a problem of the first water, exacerbated by the ability to hide capital in company treasuries for recovery in end-game payouts (admittedly a loss) in order to gain preferential turn order.

In noodling the area last night I came up with a curious idea:

What if the player that wins a Capitalised share has to pay the 3 months, not necessarily the player that selected the Capitalisation action?

Among other things this would give the ability to fork the other players. They either allow the Capitaliser to get a share (cheaply) or they sacrifice positional advantage. That can be a hard position, especially in the setup for mergers and ports. The buyer-pays-the-time pattern would apply to both the directly selected Capitalise choice and those forced by ports and mergers. A player already past the round-cut-off would not be excluded from bidding – thus weakening or at least bounding the fork-ability.