Review – Bruges

Posted on by Jesta

A City building, hand management game.

Title: Bruges.

Year Published: 2013

Designer: Stefan Feld

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Players: 2-4

Game Time: ~60 Mins

Set-up Time: >5 Mins

Ages: 10+

Theme: Renaissance

Mechanic: Hand Management

How to win: Have the most points

Game Description

In Bruges, players assume the role of merchants who must maintain their relationships with those in power in the city while competing against one another for influence, power and status. Dramatic events cast their shadows over the city, with players needing to worry about threats to their prosperity from more than just their opponents…

Set Up

For a fairly large game set-up is simple.

Put the statue tokens on the statue in order with the 7 on top.

Put the cards into 5 piles of 33, shuffle one pile per player together the half it for the two draw piles and put it in the little card dispenser.

Players put their colour marker on their Guard House and their pawns in the Town Hall and the starting space on the point tracker. They also start with 5 Guilders, one of each colour worker and 3 face down majority markers.

Bruges Setup

I’m set-up and good to go!

Decide the start player

Game Play

Game play is taken over 4 phases.

Phase 1 – Draw

You draw cards from either stack one at a time until you have 5 cards in your hand. Each player does this in clockwise order. You’re not allowed to look at the cards until you have completed your draw phase.

Bruges Hand of Cards

I got my 5 cards in 4 different colours.

If one of the piles ever runs out, you add in the spare stack of cards. If another one runs out just split the remaining pile in half so there are always two piles available.

Phase 2 – Roll the Dice

Roll the dice and place dice in ascending order on their spaces on the board and hold your breath!

For each 5&6 rolled give each player a threat marker of that colour then, if you have three of a single colour you get a penalty and return the tokens. These are generally baaaad…

Red – Fire –Burn down one of your houses or use the water from the Canal to put out the fire and lose a canal piece. A person in a destroyed house is returned to your hand safe.
Blue – Flood – Wash away all of your workers back to the supply.
Purple – Intrigue – Lose 3 points. Thankfully you can’t go below 0 points and you start on 5 so you’re good.
Brown – Plague – Lose a person in one of your houses to the plague.
Yellow – Raid – All your money is stolen! Return it to the bank.

Bruges Gain Threat Tokens

One flood and one plague threat token this time, better get rid of them!

After this, if the players haven’t lost their mind, they may pay the sum of each 1&2 on the dice to move up 1 step on the Reputation track.

This is done in turn order, can only be done once and can’t be done if there are no 1&2’s available. No freebies!

Bruges Move Up Reputation Track

3 of us moved up, we left Green behind…

Phase 3 – Play Cards and Perform Actions

Now the fun starts…

Each player plays one card in hand for one action in turn order until everyone has played 4 cards. On the right side of each card there are 5 actions you can do…

1 – Take 2 workers of that colour. Great way to get workers should you need them in that colour.

Bruges Gaining Two Workers

I discarded one of my red guys for 2 red workers.

2 – Take Guilders equal to the number of pips on the dice matching that colour. Hoping there were no 5’s and 6’s earlier? You want them now don’t you?! 🙂

Bruges  Guilders

I discard my brown card for 6 Guilders. Hope I don’t need it for anything later on!

3 – If you did get some threat tokens, you can discard a card to remove a threat marker of the colour of the card you discarded. You also get a point so good news.

Bruges Unable to Remove Threat Tokens

OK, I don’t have a brown card and I just discarded my blue one for money… I need to get rid of these later on.

4 – Build a canal starting from your guard house and building outwards. You can choose either side as long as the discarded card matches the colour of the space your building on and you pay the cost in Guilders on that space.

Bruges Build a Canal

I pay one Guilder and discard a yellow card to build my first canal.

Also, if you build out to the 3 point space, you get 3 points, yay! BUT! if you build one canal all the way to the end you get the top most statue tile which is worth 7 points if you’re there first!

5 – Build a house by paying a worker of the colour of the house you are building and that place that card face down in front of you. And you thought the houses on the back of the cards were just artwork… 🙂

Bruges Build a House

My red worker built a red house, very nice of him.

6 – Once you have houses you can play the cards in your hand as the actual people printed on them, finally. Each house hosts one guest and you simply pay the cost and put them in a house.

Bruges Coachman in a House

I pay 3 Guilders and a Coachman moves into his newly built red house.

These guys have either one shot or one per round abilities which help you during the game, or some just give you end game scoring.

Phase 4 – Verify Majorities

If a player has a clear majority in Reputation, People (in houses) or Canals they flip their token face up and they will have those points at the end of the game, even if they get over taken eventually. Once you have it, you keep it.

Players refresh used people in houses and the start player banner is passed on and a new round begins with drawing cards and rolling dice.

Game End

If the deck ever runs out of cards that triggers the final round of the game.

Score for people in houses and extra if they score extra points, each house, majority markers, canals and reputation.

Plenty of ways to get points with the tiebreaker being the player with the most Guilders.

Round Up

I like this kind of medium weight game with lots of choices, paths to victory and quick player turns.

Yes its random and while I don’t mind  90% of the time there is always that game when you draw a ‘Score points for every Musician you have’ only to not see one for the entire game. Hard to develop a strategy but the winners of this game know how to diversify and manage those situations.

Also, I find satisfaction in allowing those ‘useless’ people to succumb to a plague or a fire. Mwah ha ha!

I also like racing for the majorities, especially the canal one where you’r also racing for the Statue tiles and extra points.

On the ‘Point Salad’ thing. That doesn’t exist, it’s a myth in the mind of the Feld game. Other games give you points for doing a wide variety of things that aren’t made by Feld and they don’t get this fairly derogatory label “It’s a point salad” they say, so what, it’s fun! 🙂


A very fun tactical game, a little random but not too heavy and not too long.

I give it 6/10

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