How To Play: Furnace – Setup, rule summary and strategy

Conquer the industrial revolution in 'Furnace' by mastering efficient bidding, savvy resource management, and strategic engine building. From initial setup to the final victory point tally, understanding the rules and implementing potent strategies are crucial for outsmarting opponents and winning.


Welcome to the strategic depths of ‘Furnace,’ the riveting industrial revolution-themed auction and engine-building game that’s as enticing as it is competitive. What I’ve got here for you is more than just a rundown of the mechanical gears that bring ‘Furnace’ to life, but a guide that encompasses both a clear outline of game rules and the insider booster strategies. Whether you’re making this steel-fueled journey for the first time or you’ve been around the factory a few times, I’ve used personal play experience to forge the ultimate insights that will help you optimize your gameplay and yield maximum victory points. Jump in and let’s master the art of the industrial titan!

What’s in the Box?

  • 1 Game Board
  • 4 Player Boards
  • 50 Resource Tokens
  • 40 Company Cards
  • 30 Coal Tokens
  • 11 Overview Cards
  • 12 Iron Tokens
  • 20 Round Bid Markers
  • 1 First Player Marker
  • 12 Oil Tokens
  • 25 Money Tokens
  • 4 Reference Sheets

How To Play Furnace: Rules Summary


  1. Place the central market board in the center of the play area.
  2. Distribute starting resources to each player.
  3. Give each player a set of bidding tokens (1, 2, 3, and 4).
  4. Shuffle the industrial cards and reveal a set amount based on the player count to form the initial market.


  1. Begin the Auction Phase: Players take turns placing one bidding token on the industrial cards they wish to acquire.
  2. Resolve tied bids by awarding the card to whoever bid higher, while the lower bidders receive compensation.
  3. Enter the Production Phase: Utilize your acquired industrial cards to convert resources into coal, iron, oil, or upgrade cards.
  4. Cycle through these phases over four rounds, each time refreshing the market with new industrial cards.


  1. The game ends after four rounds, where players count their total victory points from their industrial empires.
  2. Include points from converted resources, upgraded cards, and any bonus points outlined by specific conditions on cards.

Special Rules & Conditions

  1. Unique abilities of each capitalist, which are characters players choose or are assigned at the game start, affect gameplay and strategy.
  2. Operative under different market fluctuations signaled by ‘Event’ cards that may alter bidding rules and market conditions each round.
  3. The Tithe Phase symbolizes taxes or tolls which players must account for, subsequently planning their production and bidding strategies around it.

By closely following these rules and engaging with the Structured planning within ‘Furnace,’ new players can progress from rookies to industrious tycoons. Remember, finesse your engine-building, outbid your opponents smartly, and manage your resources with precision, and you’ll find yourself atop the industrial ladder in no time at all!

Best Furnace Strategies

Mastering the Furnace: Smart Bidding Strategies for Victory

Acquiring the powerhouse industrial cards in Furnace is pivotal, and it all boils down to shrewd bidding. As you delve into this competitive engine-building game, remember that a keen eye and a strategic mindset can turn the tides in your favor. Let’s gander at a few bidding strategies that could make or break your industrial empire.

Understand the Auction Flow

Foremost, assess the auction dynamics. Early in the round, players are testing waters, which could lead to snagging great cards with lower bids. Contrastingly, as the round progresses, players become more eager and the bids can rocket. Capitalize on early rounds to secure cards cheaply, yet stay nimble for late-game steals.

Value Cards on Multiple Levels

Estimate not just a card’s immediate worth, but also its long-term value. Bid on cards offering synergy with your existing machines or compounds that could disrupt your rivals’ plans. A well-orchestrated snipe not only bolsters your position, but can also derail your opponents’ strategies.

Judge Player Motivations

Give attention to what others might covet. If a player is desperate for a card type you own or you can forecast their next move, consider upping your bid slightly more than usual to capitalize on their urgency or even to skim some compensation if outbid.

  1. Scope out low-contest cards that fit snugly into your engine. Tapping these can enrich your game without draining your bid tokens.

  2. Master the art of bluffing. A high token on an inessential card can throw players off-scent, purloining their resources and leaving the cards you truly desire less contested.

  3. Bid evenly yet unpredictably dispersing tokens to avoid telegraphing your strategy while maintaining pivotal flex in pursuing key cards.

Ultimately, the essence of how to play Furnace hinges on deliberate bidding. When you deploy these techniques, witnessing your industrial empire flourish is truly gratifying, both from the strategic gambits played and the interpersonal drama of the auction room.

Mastering the Art of Resource Management in Furnace

In ‘How To Play Furnace,’ efficient resource management is a cornerstone to any champion’s gameplay. Each round offers a tight balancing act between earning and spending resources. Here’s how can you optimize your resource to pave your way to victory:

Prioritize Flexible Resources

Initially, focus on acquiring cards that provide versatile resources. They will afford you greater flexibility in later rounds to adapt to the changing game board and opponent strategies.

Create Conversion Chains

  1. Identify card synergies that allow resource conversion into more valuable types or directly into victory points.
  2. Plan ahead: ensure that each resource generated in early steps has a use in later ones to prevent waste.

Mitigate Bottlenecks

Certain points in your production chains will limit your capacity. Expand them or develop parallel tracks to keep your engine growing smoothly and to avoid production backups that can hinder progress.

Utilize Surplus Resources

  1. Trade excess resources for what you’re lacking through efficient card play, allowing continual powerful turns.
  2. When required, remember that additional coal can power any machine, offering flexibility when strategically needed.

Mastering the Mechanics of Momentum: Engine Building in Furnace

Winning at ‘Furnace’ revolves around creating an industrial empire more efficient and productive than your rivals’. Crafting the optimal engine involves strategically selecting and combining industrial cards to maximize their synergies. Successful expansion requires methodical planning and the adept manipulation of your growing web of industries.

Synergistic Selection

  1. Identify pairs or sets of cards that enhance each other’s output. Cards that convert coal into iron paired with cards using iron to score big can turn a modest operation into a points powerhouse.

  2. Stay observant, staying one step ahead, ensuring you grab combinations that resonate with your emerging empire.

Sequential Strategy

  1. Think ahead when selecting cards. Factor in not only the immediate benefit but also how it’ll fit within the larger machine you’re constructing over successive rounds.

  2. Prioritize cards that unlock necessary resources in the correct order to keep your engine revving without a stutter.

Adaptive Tactics

  1. Engineering an adaptable engine is key. Be ready to pivot strategies, integrating newly acquired industrial cards into your strategy seamlessly for continued growth.

  2. Rival maneuvers may steer you off-course. Keep a mental ledger of potential alternative synergies to counteract sudden shifts in the industrial landscape.

Master the Industrial Revolution

In conclusion, knowing how to play ‘Furnace’ is just the beginning; mastering it requires insight into effective bidding, resource management, and engine building strategies. By utilizing the tips and tactics we’ve discussed, you’ll be better equipped to outmaneuver your opponents and clinch victory. Remember, each game is a learning experience, and adapting your play style as you go along is part of the fun. With practice, analysis, and a bit of sly cunning, you may become an industrial magnate to be reckoned with. Till the next game, may your engines run at full capacity and your factories churn out endless victory points!

Want to know what we think of Furnace? Read our detailed review of Furnace here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.