Monday, 3 February 2014

The Belle Epic

Thursday is too far away for some gamers. Sam and I met up for an evening’s entertainment, and we chose new arrival Bruxelles 1893. It’s very pretty, neatly designed in a convincing Art Deco style. Quite fussy, but still easy to pick out the various game areas.

We began to wade through the rules. This turned into something of an ordeal. The basic mechanic is worker placement but, most of the time, putting down a worker achieves three things: makes an action, places a bid on a bonus card, and tries to claim a shield that sits between the action spaces.

Worker placement, area control and bidding, all at once

On the other hand, you could place your workers on another board, which allowed cheap actions with the caveat that whoever had the most players on the board would lose one of those workers to the courthouse, and you had to get them out by using a particular bonus card.

If that weren’t enough, there are several ways to score. You can place your point-scoring cards next to a particular bonus. If you think you’ll end the game with lots of money, then put your cards next to the money multiplier. Similarly, you can bet on number of workers, materials or works of art. Or you can build up your architect bonus and get points for how much of your delightfully designed house you build.

Sam and I read through to get an overall understanding, but after a lengthy spell with the rule book we were keen to jump in and give it a go, even if we weren’t sure about some of the areas or, indeed, the finer details of the final scoring.

Sam heads off along the lovely score track.

It was pretty good. After all those rules, it’s actually pretty easy going. It’s certainly quite short: six rounds, and the rules suggest twenty-five minutes per player. It plays up to five, though, so I can see it being a bit of a grind with many opponents.

But otherwise, it was a fun game. Kind of dry, but that could be because we didn’t know what to go for. But there was certainly enough there to bring it back to the table soon, I hope.

In the end, Sam won by 80something to my 60something, since I misunderstood one of the final scoring rules. But that’s my mistake.

However, as we packed away, we were still baffled about the City Hall area of the game board. It didn’t seem to do anything or score anything. Sam reread the rules, but couldn’t find anything about it. Eventually, he even went on the internet to see what other people were saying, but apparently we are alone in our bemusement. We must be missing something obvious.

City Hall. Your guess is as good as mine.


  1. The rules were fairly clear, but just very long. Every time I though "OK, got it" there was more to learn, and eventually stuff I remembered from earlier starting falling through the cracks in my memory.

    But then once we started playing it was, as Andrew says, deceptively straightforward (save for the City Hall riddle - I pushed myself all the way to the top-scoring (?) spot, assuming it would benefit me at game-end, but no) and as you can see from the pics it looks lovely. Not an instant classic, but definitely a keeper, and worthy of further plays.

  2. Oh and it's only 5 rounds too. Surprisingly brief.

  3. Aha. Cracked the City Hall mystery Andrew - it's a decider on shield majorities on the Art Nouveau board, so if two players have an equal number of assistants around a shield you refer to the City Hall to break that tie.

  4. But don't the shields on the art nouveau board just make you move up the City Hall track?

  5. Ha! Is that right? Holy cow I think it is. It's a game within a game!!

  6. Wow, this couldn't sound less like my type of game if it tried :) Well, I suppose it could have orcs or zombies in it too...

    I couldn't resist looking at the rulebook though. This bit seems to be what you're looking for: "The player who placed the most of the 4 Assistants around the
    shield earns a number of VPs equal to his level of influence on the City Hall track"