‘Bruges’ game review
By Ed Appleby, Illustrator
Euro-style games require a lot of strategy and not a lot of player interaction. You may be playing against other players, but they don’t really affect how you play the game. Bruges takes this style of play and adds a healthy dose of backstabbing.
Bruges is a European style city-building game combining both dice rolling and hand management for 2–4 players designed by Stefan Feld and published by Z-Man games in 2013. Players use a combination of workers and money to move up in rank; build canals and houses; and house various artisans, city officials, and artists. As in many euro-style games, the majority of points are added up at the end depending on how you played and where you focused all of your resources.
There are several factors that make Bruges unique. Florins, threats, and rank are all distributed by the roll of five multi-coloured dice. Workers are also divided into five different colours, with only certain colours able to activate certain cards.
The cards have the most control when it comes to gameplay. Players pick between the two decks, knowing the colour of the card when drawn but not who the card represents. Cards can be traded in for florins, workers, houses, canals; discarded to reduce threats; or used to hire the individual on the card, who modifies the rules to the benefit of their owner or adds new ways to score points at the end of the game.
Some characters can be used to burn down other players’ buildings or increase threat levels. Once a threat is activated, the damage is extensive to the player, who can lose all florins accrued have their people, buildings, or canals destroyed.
The joy of this commerce game is that it is so dense that you literally cannot do everything you intend to. You find yourself selling off extremely valuable cards to gain quick cash or mitigate threats. This is a great game for lovers of hardcore games with a complex and robust system. Setup and scoring can be tedious, but the gameplay is quick, intuitive, and deliciously stressful.