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How Do You Play Brass: Lancashire? (8 Minute Guide)

How Do You Play Brass: Lancashire? (8 Minute Guide)


Brass: Lancashire is one of a number of games in the “Brass” series that puts you in the economy of the industrial revolution. Players compete to build and develop industries at a faster and more profitable rate than their opponents. Illustrate this through Victory Points (VP) to win the game.

If you don’t own Brass: Lancashire already, check it out here on Amazon.



The game board should be turned to the side that does not have the explanation point icon on it. Also, remove the two cards with the exclamation point icon from the location and industry cards.

Playing Cards

The industry and location cards have player counts in the bottom right hand corner of the card. Any card that does not have your player count should be removed (like if the card only has a four player count on it, but your game has three players). Cards are color coded based on their location on the game board. Remove the teal cards from a three player game. Remove both the teal and blue cards from a four player game. You’ll also check for player count on the distant cotton market cards and remove any that don’t match up.

Location and industry cards are then shuffled together. One card should be drawn from that shuffled stack equal to the number of players playing and placed in the box in the top left-hand corner of the game board. The Stephenson’s Rocket deck card is then placed face up on top of drawn cards in the top left hand corner. Finally, place the full shuffled stack of industry and location cards on top of the deck tile. Distant cotton market cards will be placed face down directly underneath the location and industry tiles.

Market Trackers

Underneath the playing cards is the market tracker for cotton. The distant cotton market piece goes in the top left (on the third row) of the Market Tracker.

The coal and iron markets are on the top right hand side of the game board. Each square in these markets should be covered with coal and iron cubes. Left over cubes and money pieces should be places on the side of the board.

Player Set Up

Each player then grabs a player mat and picks a player color. Each player should get all the industry tiles that match their color. The industry tiles should be matched with their exact spot on the player mat. Each player should also have canal tiles and 30 pounds for start-up money. Each player should have a piece on the Victory Point tracker that starts at 0 on the game board and a piece on the income marker on the 10 space of the same track.

Player order is determined randomly by shuffling the face cards of each player together and placing them in the turn order track on bottom left of the game board. Finally, each player draws eight industry and location cards from the stack on the top left.


The game is split up into two eras: the Canal Era (1770 to 1830) and the Rail Era (1830 to 1870) Each era is split up into rounds based on the number of players playing (8 rounds in 4 player game, 9 rounds in a 3 player game, 10 rounds in a 2 player game).

Players take one turn per round based on the order in the turn order track. During turns, players begin building their networks by placing industries in cities and building canals to connect those cities. Players must use the required amount of iron and money to build each industry. And the industry must match with industry space on the game board. If coal is required to build, you must have a direct connection to that coal (either through a mine in the city or through a canal link) or with a connection to a market trade icon.


Players take two actions per turn (except for the first round, when only one action will be taken).

Actions taken include:

  1. Build an Industry- Place and industry on the board using either location or industry cards. If you play a location card, you can build an industry on that location. If you use an industry card, you can only build that industry in your network (Your network includes locations where you already have industry or locations connected to your canals or railroads). The only exception to this is at the start of the game when you have no industries on the board. Then you may build your first industry anywhere. Industries can be overbuilt with higher versions if previous industries have been flipped and costs for the new industry tile are covered. But remember, you lose your Victory Points for the replaced industry.
  2. Build a Rail or Canal- Build a rail or canal on a previously undeveloped line. Water must be between two places for a canal to be built. Railroads can only be built where rail is. Canals cost 3 pounds to build. Railroads cost five pounds and one coal to build one line, 15 pounds and two coals to build two.
  3. Develop Industry- Play the lowest tile on your industry tile first to establish new industries. Each new industry requires consuming at least one iron from the board (even if that iron is someone else’s). If there is no iron on the board, you may purchase it from the iron market using the row each block is in to determine the number of pounds paid (for example, row 2 iron cost 2 pounds, row 3 iron costs three pounds).
  4. Sell Cotton- Sell cotton mills to ports connected to your mill. Industry tiles that you are selling to must not be flipped yet. After the sale is made, both the cotton mill and the port the cotton is being sold to flip. You can also sell to a market with a market trade icon. If you sell to the market, you must flip over a market tile in the top left-hand corner and move the market tracker that many spaces.
  5. Take a Loan- Lay down a card and borrow money from the bank. You must move your income marker on your income track back one level for every ten pounds you borrow (30 pounds is the max).

Players are paid income based on the spot they are on the income tracker at the end of each round.

Points are scored when industries flip. Coal and Iron plants flip when they have sold all their supply. Shipyards flip the moment they are built. Cotton mills flip when they are sold. The number in the Hexagon on the left hand side of the industry card is the number of points a player gets for each flipped industry. The number in the arrow on the right represents the number of spaces the player moves up on the income tracker.

Points are also scored with the number of links connected to a canal. If a canal has no links to it, it collects no point.

The Canal Era ends when all the cards are used and the Stephenson’s Rocket card appears. After the Canal Era ends, points are counted, the deck is reshuffled, and all canal links are removed from the board. Industry one tiles are also removed from the game board (though unused industry one tiles on your industry board is not discarded). Two cards per player are then placed underneath the Nathan Rothschild deck card. Shuffle all market tiles and reset the cotton market tracker.

Players are dealt 8 new cards and the game moves on to the Railroad Era using the same process as the Canal Era. Once all players are out of cards and the deck is empty, the game is over.

Common House Rules:

  • No loans can be taken during the final four rounds of the game.
  • All coal or iron costs five pounds when the markets are empty.
  • Players receive money from coal or iron that players take from their plants or coal and iron that is submitted into the market. Costs equal the row the products are submitted into. Coal can only be sold to the market if there is a connection with a market trade icon.
  • The Canal era only allows one industry for each player per location.
  • Colored half circles determine what industries CANNOT be built in an era. The circle colored on the left hand side cannot be built in the Canal Era, while circles colored on the right hand side cannot be built during the Railroad Era.
  • If the market tracker is on the X, you cannot sell your cotton to the market.


  • Players can choose the amount of money they spend in rounds to create back to back turns (so spend a lot of money one round, and then spend little the next).
  • Consume your iron from the board first before consuming other player’s iron.
  • Double action builds (playing two cards for one action) allow you to build in any location.
  • Try to sell cotton to your own markets so you get to flip two industries.
  • Sell to the port first if the market tracker is near the X.


Points are counted for the Rail Era and added to the Canal Era points for a grand total for each player. Players also get a point for every ten pounds they still have. The player with the most points at the end of the Rail Era wins.


Brass: Lancashire was created in 2007 by Martin Wallace. Seven different companies claim publishing rights for the game, including Warfrog Games in the UK and FRED distribution in the US.

It is recommended for 2 to 4 players ages 14 and up. Average game length is around 1 to 2 hours.

Brass: Lancashire received a 7.905 Geek Rating on Board Game Geek. Game is slightly difficult to play.

Similar versions of the game include:

For a visual description of how to play:

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