Updated: Jul 14, 2021
Set on the eve of the French Revolution, Bastille is ostensibly a contest between revolutionaries to determine which of them will lead the Revolution. That’s the flavour text at least, and it’s broadly reflected in the art by David Cochard, but the theme in Bastille is a fairly thin veneer. This game by Christoph Behre is a light (by which we mean accessibly playable) euro game that mostly uses a worker placement mechanic.
That said, it isn’t actually workers that players are placing out at the various locations on the board. Although they function in the same way as ‘workers’ in other games, in Bastille players are placing out ‘influence’ tiles. These activate whichever location they are placed out at but there is always an advantage to the player who places out the highest influence. In the event of two or more players placing out tiles of the same value, priority goes to the player who placed their tile first at that location.
The locations each offer a different benefit. Unfortunately, they are merely numbered on the board; it's only the rulebook that identifies each location by name. The Etats Généraux allows players to pick up mission cards that give end-game scoring bonuses for meeting the specified conditions; Versailles gives players the benefit specified on the topmost (displayed) tile; Notre Dame allows players to upgrade the influence tiles laid there. As you’d expect the Banque de Paris gives players gold, and you’ll need gold because influence tiles at Place Louis give you the chance to buy the support of one of the four character cards displayed. These are used both for set collection bonuses and for much of the mission card scoring. Meanwhile the Bastille itself is a track that racks up victory points and gives access to the weapons needed to equip the characters you recruit. Perhaps most interesting, however, is the Catacombs location. This allows players to place ‘henchmen’ (ie: wooden cubes) into a bag. When these are subsequently randomly drawn for mid-game scoring, their owners can place them out on one of the bonus locations either for a higher-value bonus with the cube discarded or a lower-value bonus and the cube returned to the bag to have the chance of benefitting again in the similar end-game scoring.
At the end of the day. Bastille is a ‘points salad’ game where players are competing to accumulate the most points. We didn’t really feel that any of us was Robespierre, Danton or Marat, and there was less sense of The Terror than you’ll get from much lighter games like Paul Peterson’s Guillotine (Wizards of the Coast). That’s not to say we haven’t enjoyed playing. We especially liked the jostling for prime position at each location and the interactions of the various set collection bonuses. We were just a little disappointed that there was no two-player option for Bastille.
If you’re looking for a game specifically designed for three or four players, Bastille is easy to learn and it plays in no more than an hour. As it’s published by Queen Games, you’ll have come to expect the usual ‘Queenie’ mini-expansions. There are three and these mostly add more variety to the scoring tiles. If you can pick them up, they are a worthwhile addition but there’s no need to feel deprived if you just buy the core game.