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Atelier: The Painter's Studio

[Atelier: The Painter's Studio]

Jules Bastien-Lepage

Alederac Entertainment Group

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Lutz Wildt writes about the game:

My children are really good at painting and drawing. True works of art are created by them at the moment. The opposite was true for me: I usually painted pictures in a kind of action painting style during my kindergarten time. This kind of style means that it was really hard to recognise what I was painting. On the other hand, my clothes as well as the surrounding always proved that I had been painting, of course, because the paint did not end up completely on the canvas. So, I - like Michelangelo in former times - came up with the idea of painting the ceiling in my room - collateral damage! On the whole that hasn't changed much until today. Luckily, my children have not the same talent...

Fortunately for me, AEG has released a boardgame, called Atelier: The Painter's Studio, last year. With that game, I finally have the chance to paint real masterpieces without having to redecorate an entire room afterwards. Of course, Atelier: The Painter's Studio is not really a painting studio. Instead it is a worker placement, dice rolling and set collection game, which is lovingly designed in the style of a painting studio. The player boards have the look of painting palettes, and there are a lot of wooden paint cylinders and student meeples. Additionally, there are 40 painting cards, all showing different more or less famous paintings from the 19th century. The goal of the game is to get as many victory points as possible by acquiring patrons and painting the pictures. The game ends after a player has created three masterpiece paintings. Considering my talents, I am very happy that there are no real pencils, wax crayons and canvas in the game box. So I might have a chance to win the game!


Click on image to enlarge!

The table represents the painter’s studio. It is set up with open-faced painting cards, each with information about which colours are required for the painting. Those colours are available in form of blue, green, red and yellow paint cylinders. Inspiration tokens and a Patron card stack are placed next to the cylinders, more about that later. Each player gets an own colour palette and 12 students at his disposal who are use to collect the colours by forming a majority on a specific colour pile. The players themselves are the masters. Therefore they don't care much about such menial tasks like fetching colours. Instead of painting utensils, dice are the most important hand tools. Each player receives four of them, making four actions possible per turn.

During each round, players take turns using one or more of their dice respectively, until all players have used all of their four dice. With these actions, players can send students to the different colour cylinders, move students from one cylinder to another, collect paint from cylinders where they currently have the majority of students, paint a picture, and collect an arbitrary colour. Naturally, you need all colours of one of the seven face up painting cards before you can paint the picture. So, student majorities at the necessary cylinders are very important, the alternate to collect the colours via single dice result is a laborious. Easier said than done when you have opponents. There is often some heavy back and forth at the colour pots, as the majorities changes continuously with students moving from one colour stack to another.


Click on image to enlarge!

Fortunately, there are also those inspiration tokens. After all, even the best artists need a little inspiration from time to time. So, every player already starts the game with one first inspiration token that can be used for additional actions. For one token you can roll all dice once again, for two tokens you can paint a painting and for three tokens you can draw a patron card. During the game, players can always take a new inspiration token instead using a die. Inspiration can thus help to achieve goals and collect points, even if the dice have not fallen to the player’s wish.

The pictures are not only painted to collect points. In addition to various categories that are used for set collections, they also “possess” a painting power recorded on them. For example, a finished picture might enable the player to draw a new inspiration token. Or players gain extra points at the end of the game for all non-masterpiece paintings they have finished. In this regard, the Patron cards are interesting. They describe goals that guarantee additional victory points at the end of the game, for example for painting a picture with exactly two colours or painting many pictures with a rose symbol.


Click on image to enlarge!

Yeah, as a painter you really have a lot to do. But you should also keep an eye on your colleagues, making painting not too easy for them. Again, it can be quite helpful to change the majority of students on the paint pots in your favour. The game end is triggered, once a player has painted his or her third painting with a masterpiece symbol. After that the current round is to be completed and one final round will be played. At that moment it becomes clear who is the true master, because it is not only the mere number of points from the pictures that counts in the end, but also the previously unknown point supports of all the patrons now coming into play.

Atelier: The Painter’s Studio offers a lot of tactical possibilities although the rules are very easy to learn (they only have the dimensions of an advertising flyer). The theme of the painting masters of the 19th century is beautiful adapted, you kind of really feel being back at the easel of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Even the game box feels like a painting on canvas. In my opinion the game offers a good balance between luck and tactics with a slight overweight for luck. After all, it is a game of dice! As a player, you can sometimes despair when you continuously don’t roll any fives that are necessary to paint a painting, and you also don’t have an inspiration token. Although it is listed as a 14+ game, it can easily played with 10-year-old children. At the same time, it is also a lot of fun to play in a round of experienced players, being a much more tactical approach to the game, making it a different gaming experience. After a few rounds Studio: The Painter’s Studio my motivation increased to try it again with a real painting. The utensils were also quickly borrowed from my children. But what can I say? After only a short time I once again had to realise that I get much better along with white wall paint than with fine art.

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