In the words of the majestic Dothraki, when it comes to my (and my husband's) adoration of Stefan Feld games, "It is known."
And to be completely honest, I didn't even ask what the theme of this was before we started playing. I'm well aware of the critiques that Feld games can play like "point salad" and I don't even care. I love them too much! Anyway, turns out the theme for Bruges is to get power and get money to get more power. I can get behind that.
Overall, Bruges doesn't need a whole lot of table room. The cards pretty much explain the whole game (okay, besides strategy) which I think is VERY NEAT. I appreciate that so much. Almost as much as having my own player mat. Almost...
You draw 5 cards in your hand. These cards have very easy to read iconography that tell you your options. They are color coded for good reason, as different buildings and canals and workers are color coded as well. So draw them wisely! The dice are then rolled and placed on the board. Each 1 & 2 rolled = how much it costs to move up the reputation track. Reputation is straight points at the end, and I should have done more of that. Each 5 & 6 rolled = threats are placed in front of each player depending on the color of the dice. If you collect 3 threats of 1 color, something bad happens. Again, this is explained on the cards for maximum assistance and awesomeness. The iconography on the cards makes it super easy to understand the different options, costs, and end game value.
The players take turns playing cards one at a time. After each player has played 4 cards, then that phase is over. You keep that final card in your hand for next time.
Overall, this was clearly a Stefan Feld gem with the different ways to score points and the fun way the different mechanics tied together. I really enjoyed the threats from within the game (Threat Markers) and from other players as a way to keep me on my toes.
The theme isn't really all that pervasive, which again doesn't bother me but thought it was worth mentioning again. The one element I just can't wrap my brain around were the Majority Markers. Once you have the majority of Reputation, Most People In Play, or Most Canals, you flip over your token for 4 points. That token does NOT flip back over for any reason. Even if your opponent gets the majority and flips their own over, yours stays. That scoring mechanism didn't feel necessary to me.
Regardless, I'm already clamoring to play again so I can see more cards and try new things and get a different combination of point salad going.
And also? This board is GORGEOUS so just being near it makes me happy.
Also also? The rule book uses "her" instead of "him"! As if I needed another reason to love Stefan Feld! kiss