Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bridge, by Wolfgang Kramer

Bridge, by Wolfgang Kramer
A game for 2-4 players

In ancient Greece, four kingdoms vie for political control of the land:

- The Clubs, masters of ancient warfare
- The Diamonds, traders and finaciers
- The Hearts, a nation of priests
- The Spades, an agricultural society

Each kingdom has an emperor, king-potentate, queen, prince, and ten other minor lords. Every year, these leaders gather at the senate at the great Council Bridge in ancient Greece, casting votes before the great overlord in order to implement their policies for the coming year.

Voting represents a great opportunity for the two teams of councilors to the great overlord. The councilors have secret ties to members in each of the kingdoms, and they promise votes to the great overlord. By establishing control over the families, the great overlord grants great rewards to the councilors. But beware! If you promise more than you can deliver, the great overlord gets angry and bestows favors on your political opponents.


1 gameboard depicting ancient Greece and with a scoring track
4 councilor tokens, 1 in each player color
1 ascendancy token
1 votes promised token
1 starting player token
52 political leader cards in 4 colors


Place the game board in the middle of the table. Choose two teams of two players each. Teammates sit on opposite sides of the board. (See special rules for 2 and 3 players on page 4.)

Place the councilor tokens at the start of the scoring track. In a 2 or 3 player game, place any unused councilor tokens back in the box. Place the ascendancy and votes promised tokens beside the board (see diagram).

The game is played over a number of rounds. Each round has 14 phases: an auction phase and thirteen action phases.

Choose a starting player. Give that player the starting token. Deal thirteen political leader cards to each player.

The Auction Phase:

During the auction phase, each team promises to deliver a number of votes to the great overlord from the gathered leaders. You do not know on what issues the votes will be, but you know what leaders you directly control for that year!

The first player starts the auction by declaring the ascendant kingdom and the number of votes he promises to deliver, or by passing. All players then do the same, either upping the bid or passing. The auction is over when three players have passed the last bid.

See the accompanying diagram for an example auction ...


The winner commits to securing a minimum number of votes during the year. Failure to secure the votes will result in political gain for the auction winner's opponents in the senate. Place the votes promised token on the number of votes promised.

Secondly, the declared kingdom named by the winner rises to ascendancy. For the rest of this year, even the lesser members of this kingdom have higher ranking authority than any member of any other kingdom. Place the ascendancy token on the declared kingdom.

Thirdly, the winner gets to go last starting in the first action phase.

Fourthly, the winner's partner must reveal his or her political holdings, giving control over to the winner. This only happens after the first political card is played by one of the winner's opponents in the first action phase.

Exception: in the rare situation in which all players pass, redeal the political action cards and restart at the beginning of phase 1: the auction phase.

The Action Phases:

Each phase represents a vote in the senate. Each player must play one political card from his or her hand each vote in order to try to sway the vote. The first person to play a card determines the issue being voted on. For instance, if a leader of the military kingdom is played first, then the vote is about a military issue. All players must play leaders to try to influence the vote in that issue. If they have no leader of that kingdom, they must play a leader of another kingdom, but the leader has no power to determine the vote. The highest ranking leader of the issue at hand wins the vote.

Exception: if a player has no leaders relevant to the current issue, they may play a leader of the ascendant kingdom. In that case, the highest leader of the ascendant kingdom automatically over-rides the vote and wins. A player does not have to play an ascendant leader, if they have none, or if they don't wish to expend one.

Exception: After the first political leader is played in phase 2, the auction winning player's partner reveals his or her hand, as described on page 2.

The winner of a vote begins the next vote.

See the accompanying diagram for example play ...


The auction winner plays both his or her own political leader cards, as well as the cards of his or her partner.

At the end of thirteen votes, the voting for that year is over. If the auction winning team gathered all the votes promised, each receives a reward. Additional bonuses are rewarded if the auction winning team promised a minimum numbers of votes, or if they collected more than they promised. Additional bonuses are rewarded depending on which kingdom was raised into ascendancy (or none at all). If the auction winning team fails to secure the promised number of votes, their opponents gain a certain number of points for each vote the auction winning team failed to secure.

Move your councilor tokens forward on the scoring track. Choose new teams, and then mix and redeal the political power cards for the next round. The game ends when one person achieves 1000 points. The player with the most victory points at that time is declared the winner. If there is a tie, the player with the most number of leaders in the ascendant kingdom in the last year wins. If there is still a tie, the tie stands.

Variant: deal each player one emperor card before dealing the remaining political cards. This will create a more balanced, and tougher, play scenario.

Variant: each player may not play a leader of the same rank during a vote, if one has already been played, unless that player reveals that he or she has no other leaders to play.

An expansion to the game is planned that will add a fifth player, special event cards, and a traveling great overlord token which gives bonus points for certain issues when he is moved onto that issue's location on the board.


Edit: Added instructions for the tokens.


Mikko Saari said...

Clever, very clever. Thank you!

Coldfoot said...


Alfred said...

This is as close as I have ever come to understanding Bridge. Well done!

Yehuda said...

The theme came first.


ptahmus said...

Excellent interpretation! Although, I would say that after Emperor, King, Queen and Prince, that there are nine other vote cards (ten down to two).

Scott said...

Sounds like it may let the theme get in the way of the mechanics.

ekted said...

Very nice pasting-on! :)

Simon J said...

when I saw a link to this article on d21 I actually thought "this sounds like the kind of thing Yehuda would enjoy" :)

Simon J said...

The theme came first.

I was going to suggest this seemed more like a Knizia game than Kramer.

And then it occured to me that with a small change in the setting you could market this as "Tigris & Euphrates - The Card Game"...

Fellonmyhead said...

The theme came first.

Ha ha ha! Very good, fitting the mechanisms into such a powerful theme; only one snag:-

Each kingdom has an emperor, king-potentate, queen, prince, and ten other minor lords.

Won't you need to alter things a little to allow for the four extra cards?

Sean McCarthy said...

Well done!

Neal H said...

This should be sent to Herr Kramer.