Review: Bruxelles 1897

In Bruxelles 1897 you build buildings, trade art and network with nobles. Will your name go down the history books?


Geronimo Games




Bruxelles box

Game explanation

Bruxelles 1897 is a card game based on the board game Bruxelles 1893. The World's Fair opens its doors and Art Nouveau takes over the streets of Brussels. You want your name to enter the history books. You do this by building impressive buildings, buying art and networking with influential nobles. 

Bruxelles 1897 is played over 4 rounds. Each player receives 5 architect cards at the beginning which can be used to perform actions. In the middle of the table there are 4 columns with action cards. These action cards can be bought to score points and unlock bonuses. 

You start by setting up the game. You put the game board with the round tiles on it at the top of the playing field. Below this you place the Brussels cards and the prison card. Below that again is the Art Nouveau area with the action cards. There are different types of action cards, namely: Artwork, Money, Material, House and Nobles. You take 3 cards from each pile of action cards when preparing the Art Nouveau area. You shuffle these and place them in the Art Nouveau area in the form of 4 columns with 3 cards each. Below each column you also put a random bonus card. At the bottom you put the 5 stacks of action cards with their discard pile. When this is done you are ready to start the game! 

The game is played over 4 rounds as mentioned above. You can perform actions using architect cards, these are your workers. Architect cards have a front and back with different values. You must pay this to play the action cards. You perform an action by replacing the action card in the Art Nouveau area with your architect card. The actions you can perform are as follows:

Art Nouveau area

Creation: Place the artwork open in front of you. You must have an artwork in your possession to perform the "sale" action.

Sale: Place the money card in front of you with the 3 BEF (Belgian Franks) visible. You must discard one of your artworks to be able to do this action. You cannot use the money from the sale to pay for your architect card you just played.

Supply: To be able to perform the construction action you need building materials. These are placed face-up in front of you after buying them with an architect card. A material card always shows 2 building materials (iron, stone and/or wood).

Construction: Take a card with a house and place it face up in front of you. You pay with building materials (and, as always, your architect card). For the first house you need 1 building material, then 2 and so on. You immediately receive 1 victory point for each different type of building material you use for the construction. 

Influence: You may immediately use the noble's effect, all of which give different bonuses. For example, one bonus is that you may advance one spot on the nobility track. Then, you may discard it or keep it with you for the rest of the game. You can't have two of the same nobles. If you used a nobleman you turn it over for that round.

Exhibition: You can buy the exhibition card to start an exhibition. After buying the card, everyone may take turns exhibiting one artwork. You may never have 2 of the same type of artworks in the exhibition. For each exhibited work of art you get 2 victory points. You get the artworks back afterwards.

Brussels area

If you run out of money you can use architect cards to perform actions in the Brussels Zone. There are 3 actions you can perform here.

Stock exchange: You immediately get 5 BEF

City Hall: Activate 1 or more nobles and immediately execute their effect. The number of nobles you may activate depends on the track of Nobility (1 to 5).

Cinquantenaire Park: You may perform an Art Nouveau action of your choice. If you choose the creation action, bidding, construction or influence, draw the first 2 cards from their respective stacks. You still need to hand in artwork for sale and building materials for your construction.

End of the round

At the end of the round you are going to determine majorities. There are 3 types of majorities.

Columns: Per column, you determine which player has the highest total value of architect cards. This player immediately receives the bonus under that column. If there is a tie, all players involved receive the bonus.

Coat of Arms: Each intersection formed by 4 architect cards in the Art Nouveau zone forms a coat of arms. For each finished coat of arms, the player with the majority of architect cards in that coat of arms receives victory points equal to its position on the prestige track.

Brussels: If you have the majority in the Brussels Zone, put one of your architect cards in jail. You can only take this one back with a column bonus or a nobleman.

End of the game

After the 4th round, the game is over and the points are added up. You receive victory points for houses, building materials and the exhibition card. Each noble costs 2 BEF at the end, if you can't pay that it will cost you 3 victory points. In addition, the players with a majority in the columns also receive the bonus on the bottom half of the bonus card. Here you can get, for example, points for money or artwork. The player with the most points wins the game!

Art Nouveau zone

Our thoughts

Bruxelles 1897 is a very interesting card game. It's interesting because of the game mechanism where you use your cards as workers, but also interesting because of the thoughts the game brought to our minds. We have never played the board game Bruxelles 1893. Therefore, Bruxelles was not yet known to us. At first we were quite sceptical because the theme and artwork did not appeal to us at all. While playing the first game we did not immediately get the 'wow' factor. The surprise came later! A few hours after our first game we wanted to play again. We kept thinking about the different tactics and ways to score points. Bruxelles 1897 did not disappoint us! By now, we think it is a very successful card game. 

This card game is packed with tactics and little luck. There are many different types of strategies that you can use to secure victory. It is a lot of fun to find out what works best and to get better and better scores. Once we figured this out, it didn't really matter that the theme didn't appeal to us. Sure, it's even more fun if the theme of a game can both surprise you, but with Bruxelles it's really in the gameplay itself. 

In our opinion, the theme is not very attractive and a bit vague, which makes it hard to get into the game at first. Sometimes a game is very thematic and the actions speak for themselves. With Bruxelles we really had to think about the possibilities we had for our actions. If you can get through this and get to know the game well then this is not a problem anymore. After 2 or 3 games it is very clear what you can do and it is actually a fairly simple and fast game. It takes only 4 rounds so you can quickly play another game to try out a new tactic and maybe this time beat your opponent. 

We were pleasantly surprised by Bruxelles 1897 and we like it a lot! Sometimes games can look very nice but disappoint in terms of gameplay. Bruxelles may not have blown us away in terms of theme and artwork, but the gameplay certainly does not disappoint! If you are looking for a fun and strategic card game and are a fan of worker placement, we can definitely recommend Bruxelles 1897!

Cards example

Playing with 2 players

We have not yet had the chance to play with Bruxelles 1897 with multiple players. As far as we are concerned it is a very nice card game to play with 2 players. There is a small adjustment in the rules for a two-player game which makes it a little more exciting. We can imagine that with multiple players it is an even more exciting battle. We are certainly curious to see how it plays with more players, but are also fans of the pace with which you can play a game with 2 players. 

 Pros and cons

+ Really tactical card game
+ Not a lot of luck

Theme and artwork don't appeal to us
- Some strategies are clearly stronger than others

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This game has been kindly gifted to us for review purposes by Geronimo Games.