Gameday First Play – Bruges

Posted on by Jesta

Building Bruges in Belgium…

Card play and gaming done right.

InĀ 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…

So yeah, I like this one.

This is a first time I’ve played a Feld and I know about the whole ‘Point Salad’ thing but things get you points, that’s how games work right? If canals, buildings or people didn’t get you points you won’t bother with them would you? Ah, enough of that, on to the game.

So this is very card driven. Each round starts with you drawing 5 cards from two piles of which you only know the colour of the building on the back of it (1 of 5 colours). On the other side is a person, you don’t know what they do or who they are you just know their colour as it matches the colour of the house.

When everyone has 5 cards, the 5 dice are rolled by the active player. The dice are the same colour as the cards and have a very nice effect.

Firstly, for each 5 or 6 rolled each player gets a Threat token of that colour. 3 of these of one colour and something bad happens, not terribly bad, just bad. Gold is a raid and it steals all your money, a blue flood removes all of your workers. The worst in my opinion is the purple ‘Intrigue’ tokens that lose you 3 points. That’s a lot of points!

Bruges Board


Then every 1 or 2 rolled are added up allowing you to move up the Influence track. Now, this is worth quite a few points at the end of the game if you get up to the top so its usually worth the effort.

Phase 3 is the action phase, taking turns to play a card. The cards are great and have 7 actions. You can discard it for workers, to build a canal, gain money, remove a threat token, build it for a house on one side of the card or play it for the person on the other side of the card into a house.

The colours are important. It determines which colour workers you get, how much money you get (matching the dice rolled earlier), which threat marker you can remove and which space you can build a canal on.

I love this bit. Knowing what card to play for what, which to discard for resources, which to use as a building, managing your money and workers is loads of fun. I love multi-function cards. Also, you only play 4 of your 5 so you don’t get too much time to plan.

Bruges Player Area


Phase 4 is determining majorities. Anyone with a clear majority by being further up the Influence track, building the mostĀ Canals and by having the most people in houses gets to flip up that majority token. Once flipped up it doesn’t flip back if someone else gets the majority later.

Then it’s back to phase one with the first player banner moving on, and players drawing cards again. When one of the two decks you draw from runs out, that marks the last round of the game then scoring occurs.

So I mentioned the point Salad earlier so there’s lots of scoring at the end on top of the minimal amount of ‘during game’ scoring.

X points per person in your houses depending on the printed value of that person.
X points for end game scoring effects on people in your houses.
1 point per house.
4 points for each face up Majority token.
3 points for each 3 point space on your canals.
X points per statue.
X points for your space on the Influence track.
Tie Break – Most Guilders

This game is so simple, yet complex and plays very quickly. We’ve had a 4 player game with 3 new players play in 45 minutes.

There’s lot’s of ways to score yet nothing seems obviously better than anything else.

Building canals is expensive and tricky. You need to have the right colour card to discard and enough money to pay the every increasing costs. But you’re rewarded with 3 points at the 3 spot and when you build to space 5 on one of your canals you get a statue. These start at 7 points and go down to 2 so the quicker you build one, the more you’ll get at the end. It becomes a bit of a race to get the 7 point statue but it doesn’t give you the game.

The people are cool too. The effect are nice. Some have a 1 off effect and others have an activated ability that costs workers to use. Some are nasty and steal coins from other players or make them gain those threat tokens.

It’s a very quick, nice game that’s very easy to teach, plays smoothly yet requires a lot of thought.

I’m waiting for the expansion to come out with the 5th player board and an effect that occurs when 3’s and 4’s are rolled on the dice.

I really enjoy playing this game.

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