#95 – Bridges to Nowhere [Preview]

box

Base price: $XX. Will update when Kickstarter goes live.
2 players.
Play time: ~10 minutes per round.
BGG Link
Check it out on Kickstarter! (Will update with link when Kickstarter goes live.)

Full disclosure: A preview copy of Bridges to Nowhere was provided by Doomsday Robots. I’ll try to keep my comments focused on gameplay, but keep in mind that this is a preview copy of an unreleased game, so some rules may change. Also, the art’s pretty cool already.

So a little-known hobby of mine is looking at architecture. I love exteriors (and interiors as well, who are we kidding) and facades and such. One of my best friends in college is an architect right now, actually, and I often joke with him that if I can ever afford a house (spoiler alert: I cannot), I’d love to have him design it both because he does incredible work and I would love to see the process.

Anyways. You can imagine my enthusiasm when I heard about Bridges to Nowhere, a two-player drafting game of bridge building. I immediately bothered for a review copy, and now here we are. In Bridges to Nowhere, you play as rival bridge builders trying to fulfill contracts to create bridges beyond anyone’s imagination and to make lots of money. Can you build the most impressive bridge?

Contents

Setup

There are three types of cards in Bridges to Nowhere:

Pillar Cards:

pillar-cards

You should give each player a full, distinct set of six of these.

Bridge Cards:

bridge-cards

There are 24 of these (8 each of three different types). Shuffle them and set them aside for now.

Contract Cards:

contract-cards

For your first game, you can safely ignore these, but if it’s not your first game shuffle them up, flip one over.

Deal out six Bridge cards in a line in the center, and you’re about ready to start!

setup

You don’t quite have to do it like this, but… it also works.

Gameplay

Bridges to Nowhere, at its core, is a simple drafting game, similar to 7 WondersTides of Time, or Sushi Go / Party. It most closely mirrors Tides of Time, since it’s a two-player-only experience (though I suppose it could be close to 7 Wonders Duel since all cards are always face-up in the center). This means each turn you’ll draw a card and then your opponent will have an opportunity to take one of the cards you didn’t take, and so on.

Once each of you has taken three cards, you add them to your bridge, following these rules:

  • You can add a Pillar card on top of a Pillar card if you want. Note that you cannot add a Pillar card below another pillar, though. You have to build from the ground up. This is how you make double-decker (or triple-decker!) bridges.
  • You may build off of either side of a Pillar card. Sure, it looks weird, but you’re the bridge architect. They have to listen to you.
  • A bridge can only be of one type. No mixing bridge styles. It’s too avant-garde.
  • If you cannot (or do not want to) play a card, you can discard it. You don’t get another card, though, so choose wisely.
  • You can never play a card next to a card of the same value. It must be greater than or less than, following the next rule.
  • A valid bridge must have all cards played in increasing, decreasing, increasing then decreasing, or decreasing then increasing order.

That last rule seems pretty tricky, so I’m going to give some examples:

types-of-bridges

You’ll notice that these four sets of bridges all follow the various conditions set forth by the game (increasing, decreasing, increasing then decreasing, decreasing then increasing). Also note that once you start the next round, you cannot move your previously placed Bridge or Pillar cards. Just like real life! Sort of.

After you’ve drawn all 24 cards and played four rounds, the game is over. Score your completed bridges (Pillar cards on both sides!) as follows:

  • Add the numbers on the bridge together, then multiply that by what level it’s on. Level 1 of a bridge gets a x1, Level 2 gets a x2, and Level 3 gets a x3.
  • For every pair of matching symbols, gain 5 points. They must be adjacent to each other (so the right end of one bridge card and the left end of the next, for instance).
  • If you fulfilled the goal of a contract, gain the points for the contract level you fulfilled (Major or Minor). You can only earn points from a contract once, so shoot for that Major bonus.

This seems like a lot, so let’s do a scoring example:

scoring-example

In this case, this bridge would score 5 points on level 3, 11 points on level 2, and 8 points on level 1. This means their current score is (5 x 3) + (11 x 2) + (8 x 1) = 45. Now, add 20 points for the Contract (since they have a triple-decker bridge that’s three pieces long) and add 5 points for every set of matching symbols (4). This means you get:

15 + 22 + 8 + 20 + (4 x 5) = 85. Now that’s a bridge!

Now, you can either play a multi-game variant (in which the higher-scoring player takes the contract card, and the first player to two contracts wins) or just play that the player with the most points wins! Up to you. If you play a multi-game, the player with the lower score chooses who goes first after you deal the Bridge cards.

Player Count Differences

Two players only. 🙂

Strategy

  • Go for matching symbols. It’s relatively easy and totally worth lots of points. This becomes less desirable with multi-level bridges, as their value super increases (the multipliers!), but it’s still good to know, especially if you’re bringing single-level bridges.
  • Know the cards. It helps if you know how many cards there are of each type (8) and of each value (don’t remember). I do remember that there is only one 5, and it has two submarine symbols on each card. If you know what to expect, you know how to better plan your strategy and you know to stop looking for certain things.
  • Watch your opponent, and keep cards away from them if you can. This isn’t to say that you should sacrifice your own goals, but it might be worth strategically taking certain cards away from your opponent if you can afford the risk. One thing I like about this game is that that’s a fairly dangerous prospect, though.
  • Keep in mind that double- and triple-decker bridges are very difficult to complete. All it takes is your opponent blocking you from completing the base and then you can’t complete anything, which is… rough. That’s not what you want. Focus on the bottommost level when you do stuff like that or else you’ll get totally hosed.
  • Do the contracts. If you’re not doing the contract and your opponent is, that’s an extra 10 or 20 points they might get over you. That definitely wins most games. So block them if you can, especially once you’ve completed it.
  • Be careful how you start (and play) with Bridge cards and Pillar cards. Don’t increase then decrease too early (or vice-versa) or you’ll end up with a short bridge. Also make sure that you’re playing such that you can always terminate bridges that you build with a Pillar card. I made this mistake once and ended up with an unusable level because I had the wrong Pillar cards. Play smart, not hard.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • Love the theme. Bridge-building is super cool.
  • Also love the art style. It’s very “sunset over the bridge”-y and I really like that. Subtle oranges and blues, great hues, etc. Big fan.
  • Plays fast. I prefer playing single rounds, so this is right up my alley. Has a very Love Letter / Lost Legacy feel in its replayability.
  • Pretty simple to teach, as well. It’s a good lunch game, especially for two.
  • Solid fun! I enjoy playing this. It’s pretty strategic without being pure hate-drafting, like 7 Wonders Duel, and it requires less pure memory / card knowledge like Tides of Time.

Mehs

  • I’m fairly anti-tiny cards. Just a personal preference. It’s the same issue I have with Ticket to Ride. I would totally go for a bigger version with like, tarot-sized Pillar cards and regular (or bridge, heh)-sized Bridge cards. It’s not like the game becomes all that much more space-intensive, I suppose.

Cons

  • Can feel a bit rote. So the Alderac microgames have an advantage in their card effects and diversity, whereas this has mostly the same cards with some minor variations. I’d love to see variants with Bridge cards with effects or cards that get excluded from the game, as it would make it a bit less predictable. There’s already some luck in how the cards come out, so I feel like the luck element it adds wouldn’t be much more than is already present. It would appeal to me a bit more, this way, but I imagine that’s not for everyone. This is effectively the same issue I have with Tides of Time. 7 Wonders: Duel managed to get around this by leaving certain cards out each round.
  • It’s possible to get completely ruined by a misplay. That can be a bit frustrating, especially for new players, and that’s how you lose them for future games. It’d be nice if there were a single-use card that would let you move around some bridge parts (at some cost, like the Spatula in Burger Up) but would let you correct costly mistakes. Or wild cards! I could be down for wild cards, but they’d need to be like, wild 0s or something.

Overall: 7 / 10

in-progress

Overall, I’d say Bridges to Nowhere is a solid 2-player drafting game. I like the theme a whole lot, which helps a bunch with my desire to play it, but it is cool to build a bridge competitively and you get a nice sense of accomplishment once you’ve completed the whole thing. If you’re looking for a game that’s good for two players and you’d like to build some bridges, check this one out when it lands on Kickstarter!

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