Get some guilders, grab some workers, build some houses, recruit some people, and get victory points for doing just about everything; Bruges is Stefan Feld’s very Stefan Feld take on card games.
In Bruges, players take control of the powers behind the city, developing it while competing against the other players and combating the ever-present threat of disasters. Every round, players draw up to 5 cards and must use four of them over the course of the turn. Each card can do 6 different things, 5 of which are shared among all cards, and one of which is unique to each individual card. As such, there is a lot of juggling the potential advantages and disadvantages of actions and you’ll find yourself wanting to use a single card you have for two or three different things all at once.
Like most Stefan Feld games, there are a plethora of ways to acquire victory points, and concentrating on any one method doesn’t seem beneficial over diversifying your strategies, gathering victory points in as many ways as possible. A lot of how things turn out for you come down to the cards; they dictate the ways in which you can bend the rules of the game and get at those sweet sweet victory points even faster. Also, unlike most Stefan Feld games, this one has the potential for real nastiness between players through a few of the available cards and the direct interaction is definitely refreshing.
Another note of distinction here is to be found in the production value of the game and pieces. The board, cards and pieces are all of a high production value, and I really lie the little card boxes that come with the game. There is definitely a greater care for the aesthetic value of the game than in most of Feld’s previous games.
While I’m not of the opinion that it is Feld’s best work, Bruges is definitely worth a few plays and I am usually willing to play should anyone ask.