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From QUEEN GAMES and Christophe Behre this is a 3-4 player game. It definitely needs a minimum of three players, and from a reviewers and gamers viewpoint it is good to find a game that recognises it isn't a viable 2 player game and makes no such claims, not even a 2-player variant.

The designer uses the background of Revolutionary France as chrome for a placement, management and collecting game. BASTILLE is an eye-catching name that, along with the cover art, draws players to the game, even though  the Bastille is only one of the locations on the board, an artistic representation of Paris, where the action takes place. 

The art is impressive to say the very least. From the box covers (back and front) to the box inner, the cards, the board and even the back of the board, the illustrations are splendid. However, if there is one thing I would change/add, and not increase the rrp, is saving the cost of the artwork on the back of the board and spending it on a standee-base for the First Player tile

In my view there are no immediately recognisable specific differences between the game mechanics of BASTILLE and those of the many other games in this genre, but for some reason they all work seamlessly together,. There are seven locations on the board, each capable of holding a set number of player Influence Tiles. As players begin with just three of these tiles the game's name 'Bastille' quickly becomes 'B*st*rd' when players realise they cannot do as much in their Turn as they want to, nay 'want to' but NEED to. This game utilises almost every frustrating and aggravating possibility known to gamers. 

 

There is both an advantage and a disadvantage in going first, so the random selection of who becomes First Player affects the game for the entire round; not just because the First to Play has the choice of every space on the board but also because there are three players between 'lucky' first and 'unlucky' fourth. Where those three players place their First Influence tiles can truly influence the options of the fourth to play. If, for example, the First Player uses one of their options to place a tile in one of the three available positions in the Banque de Paris (always placing into the furthest left space possible) then that guarantees them first player for next turn and coins from the Bank.

Note: First player goes to the person who plays the highest valued tile, it's position in the row only counting if tiles of the same value are played afterwards. Play rolls around clockwise from the First Player. Ensuring you are First Player for the next Round can be extremely important, but, it has the disadvantage of using one of your options.

Players may place more than one tile in area positional rows, though only in empty spaces; their values DO NOT add up when determining who is in First Place in each Location - First Place always gives a tactical advantage, or at least allows the most choices. The Location spaces are marked by shield-shapes outlined in the colour of the location.

1. Banque de Paris. Blue. 3 positions. Main reward: First Place
2. Notre Dame. Orange. 3 positions. Main reward: Upgrading the value of your Influence tile - all players
3. Versailles. Yellow/Gold. 2 positions. Main reward: First choice from a random 2 part bonus card.
4. Catacombes. Red. 2 positions. Main reward: Placing henchmen (small wooden squares) into the black sack.
5. Place Louis. Green. 4 positions. Main reward: First choice of card to buy from the display.
6. Bastille. Brown. 2 positions. Main reward: move you dobber around the track to gain points and weapon choice.
7. Etats Généraux. Dark Blue. 2 positions. Main reward: Selection of another Mission card.

Played in two halves with three random bonus tiles in each and an interim scoring BASTILLE is a classic strategy gamewhere one mistake is forgiveable and recoverable. Played by regulars this becomes a 60 minute game as you learn the rules thorughly and understand the possibilities. From our experiences four players generally take 90-75 minutes until they are all au fait with the options and prospective potentials and then they hit the publisher-expected 60 minute game. We then found that once everyone knew what they wanted to do, going first was often compliant to the plans and that thinking through every action, every purchase etc. expanded the game back to the 75-90 minutes. 

Family, casual and new players are more likely to play with a more musketeer (cavalier) attitude. Thinking out your actions can (and has done) produce over-thinking and hoping that of the several things you need to do in your Turn you can successfully act on them. I often find myself deliberating not only over what I need to do, but also what my opponents will do before I get another Turn.

Thoughts like "If I do X will Z still be available to me" fill my head and then I find I am internally arguing with myself. I then decide that if I do X, then Z will be filled before my next go, and so I choose to do Z instead of X and then discover that no-one else wanted to do Z and that the other players were all hoping I wouldn't select X. 

Everything works both for you and against you. You need money to purchase Characters (Peasants, Soldiers, Nobles and Monks) and you need them to be equipped with the necessary weapons and/or implements shown on their cards.Unequipped characters can be costly when the count up arrives.

Depending on your Missions you may require the Flags, Gems and Crowns displayed down the left side of some character cards. Thus it may be important that you collect more than your original mission. To win the best award (or the one you require) from the Locations you need the highest valued Influence tile nearest the far left of the row. Therefore it is important that you trade up your Influence tiles early on in the game. When you trade up you literally discard a tile and take another of the next higher value, you do not keep all tiles.

Of course while you are Trading up or gaining new Missions the other players may well look like they are doing better than you because of their actions. It is very easy to misread opponent's positions in the overall scheme of things, especially since until the final scoring you have no way of knowing if they have succeeded or failed their Missions.

Throughout play, generally through a specific action selection or the result of a random action, players put cubes into a sack. Several of these are drawn just before the interim and final scorings. The pieces removed, one at a time, from the bag, are given to their owner to place on one of the available bonus spots - these change from Interim to Final. After the draw has completed during the interim phase the pieces are either handed back to their owners or put back in the bag, depending on which bonuses were taken.

QUEEN GAMES are renown for beautiful light-strategy games mainly aimed at family gamers but with enough content to interest beyond casual players. To find a game as good as BASTILLE online, hopefully sooner rather than later at your local game store, for an amazing 'under £25.00' is a gamer's dream. To be honest I expected this to be carrying a £40.00 or more price tag; it is certainly in that range considering its overall quality and replayability.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015