I played a game of Bruges today and decided to give an attacking strategy a spin. One of my very early cards let me use a worker to give all of my opponents a red threat. Other abilities that can be used for a worker typically are worth a full action (draw and play a card, play a card from your hand) or can have a game state set up to make them much better than an action (Duncan was getting 12 gold for a single worker each turn where typically you earn 4-6 gold in an action). Threats on their own don't do anything but for every 3 something bad happens. In this case, for the red threat, each opponent would have to destroy a building or a canal. So I could spend 3 workers over the course of 3 rounds in order to kill one thing from each opponent. It takes that long to pull off so people could plan out a cheap canal to get burnt if they wanted to so most likely it would be costing them 1 gold and 1 action. So I'm paying around the value of 3 actions to deny each opponent a little more than 1 action.
There were 3 opponents so the overall damage inflicted was around a little more than what I paid to do it. But it was spread out 3 ways which is bad. I was hurting myself far more than I was hurting any individual other player which means this was a terrible line of play. Unsurprisingly I managed to come dead last in this game. I made a couple other mistakes and had one gamble fail spectacularly but I think the biggest problem was spending my first person on an attacker instead of on something that would help build my own board position.
I don't like this type of mechanic. At least in Bruges you can use the cards for 5 other actions on top of playing it as the attacking card. This makes it better than the attacking cards in Mage Tower which just caused the game to death spiral quickly. Don't get me wrong... I'm all for playing games with attacking cards when those cards are actually a reasonable part of the game. Through The Ages has attacking cards and they mostly serve to force people to stay close in military strength or risk getting beaten up. Titan is all about attacking each other! It's when you have a fairly peaceful game that has a little bit of attacking bolted on that I get really bothered. I've heard Lords of Waterdeep suffers from this and it's made me a little leery about trying it out.
I guess I just like to be able to know what plans I'm trying to make in a game. Having most of the Bruges cards be about building your own engine and scoring points but having a small number of them inflict random amounts of damage on your opponents just feels like something that can't be planned around. My attacker was giving out red threats which weren't terribly strong and giving out a ton of other threats in a planned manner probably wouldn't be very good either. But giving out a single yellow threat and wiping out someone's gold right after they've gained money but before they can spend it seems like a potential blowout. Should you play around it? I was in this game and it cost me big time. But if you ignore it because it will almost never happen you will get blown out once and that'll be a terrible feeling. Well, maybe it will be a good feeling for the guy who pulls it off? I don't think I like it regardless.