What’s up, my little geeklings?
It might surprise you, but it doesn’t happen often that I get to play the games I’m about to translate beforehand. Usually, we just receive the PDFs and we start the localization process without actually having played the game. C’est la vie.
However, that’s never the case when I’m working for the guys at Geek Attitude Games. They always invite me to their Brussels office to try out their new projects, usually over a few locally brewn beers. Last year, we chose a beautiful, sunny day to sit on the terrace and try the second expansion to Not Alone, and yesterday I was back at Geek HQ to dive head first into some of their new prototypes.
There’s not enough time to talk about all of them today, so this article is going to focus on a game that I know many of you have been impatiently waiting for. After all, Bruxelles 1893 is one of those popular titles that’s been out of print for a while. Well, in case you didn’t already know, designer Etienne Espreman recently recovered the rights to his game.
I’m happy to report that the deluxe version of Bruxelles 1893 is coming to Kickstarter during the first half of 2022, and it’s obviously going to be more than just a reprint. The box, board and components are getting a complete visual overhaul, some of the rules for the basegame will be revised, and – last but not least – the game will come with an official expansion that fits right into the core box!
The Deluxe Edition and Its Expansion
Small disclaimer: everything you see in these pictures are prototype components, mixed in with cards and pieces from the original 2013 release of the game. However, if you stick with us until the end of the article, I will have an exclusive treat in store for you!
When you first look at the prototype board, you’ll notice the layout has changed. The compass has been moved to the top left of the board, and the workshop has been moved to the top right. But there are also a few new areas that allow for storing the game’s resources and works of art on the board.
Also new are the player boards. While those only used to contain the Architect track, every player now has their own City Hall track and Coat of Arms track. The player boards will be double-sided and will have asymmetric player powers on their reverse side.
In the above picture, you’ll also be able to discern a few elements of the expansion. If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you’re familiar with how the base game works. So let’s focus on the new stuff that will be included in the deluxe edition.
New Public Figures and White Works of Art
While the expansion is only going to contain (several copies of) two new public figures, these cards will have a big impact on how the game is played.
The first is Adolphe Crespin: a famous poster maker and sgraffito (wall art) artist who was born, raised and educated in Brussels. Whenever you activate him, he gives you a white work of art. These effectively act as a jokers when selling a work of art using the associated action.
The second is Georges Nagelmaeckers: an engineer and industrialist who brought the concept of sleeper carriages to Europe. He later ended up founding the company that constructed the Orient Express.
Georges provides you with neutral workers that can be used to carry out actions for you, just like your normal meeples. While these workers don’t count towards majorities for columns and coats of arms on the Art Nouveau board, they also don’t count towards majorities in the Brussels area, which means you can use them there without worrying about your workers ending up in prison at the end of the round.
Blocker Tiles and End Game Goals
During setup, five blocker tiles are laid out on the center axis of the Art Nouveau board. You can still use the action associated with that worker placement spot as normal, but you’re not allowed to construct buildings on these spots. If you’ve played Bruxelles 1893 before, you know that those center spots are otherwise highly contested.
However, the blocker tiles serve a second purpose. If you place one of your workers on one of these action spots, you may immediately send a second worker over to a new board that contains three end game goals. Your worker will stay there until the end of the game, but other players can no longer claim the goal you chose.
There are twelve different end game goals, for maximum replayability. I’m not going to explain them all, but I’ll quickly go over the ones lying on the red board from left to right. The first one gives you points for collecting sets of artworks of the same type and color.
The second one says you receive an amount of money at the end of the game equal to 4 times the value you reached on your City Hall track. Useful for paying off your public figures! The third one allows you to extend your Architect track to a maximum of 15 points per building, instead of the usual 10.
Special Actions and a Brand New Material
Aside from constructing buildings on the Art Nouveau board, you can now also build a house on one of the five special action tiles that are aligned with its rows and randomly placed during setup. These tiles are all double-sided, for a total of 20 special actions included in the expansion.
Constructing one of your buildings here costs the same amount of materials, but the middle rows also require one or two addition glass resources, which can be obtained using the Materials action. Building here is more expensive, but it has two distinct advantages.
The first is that you gain a special ability for the rest of the game. All of these abilities are linked to specific action spots or phases. You might, for example, gain an extra worker at the start of each round, receive points for public figures you didn’t activate at the end of the round, or gain the ability to perform two actions in the Brussels area with only one worker.
The second advantage is that you gain 1 point at the end of the round for each worker your opponents have placed in the tile’s row. This means that a big investment early in the game not only grants you a special power, but it can also provide you with a small yet steady victory point engine.
Le Moment Suprême
I’m an old-school guy, really. It always flatters me when a publisher personally invites me to their headquarters. Kind of makes me feel like a VIP. And once in a full moon, you find a client you gladly want to drive the extra mile for. Geek Attitude Games is one of those!
Stay tuned, because I will be talking about the other prototypes we played in future articles! One of them includes a new ‘Brussels themed’ game designed by Alain Orban (Troyes, Black Angel, Hippocrates).
But before I forget: I made you a promise, didn’t I?
Geek Attitude Games has given me the exclusive honor and permission to share the new box art for Bruxelles 1893 with you. You saw it here first, people! It comes as no surprise that the artist, Amaury “Ammo” Dastarac, is a rising talent from Brussels. He’s most known for his work on designing labels for locally brewed Belgian beers… Wait: is that what I was drinking all afternoon??
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