The call of the Braggart! We’ve all been in the pub with “that friend” when he begins to tell the valiant tale of the time he confronted the eight foot tall spider with his homemade flame thrower. Well, Braggart is that friend… in a Box. No… not literally, that would be weird.
Braggart is a fast playing, take-that style card game that can handle up to six players. Is it a good game? Let’s get to the review!
A Quick Overview
In Braggart each player is dealt a hand of cards and one player is chosen to go first. The round begins with a draft. Cards are dealt from the top of the deck equal to the number of players, each player drafts a card in turn order. They then have two options, “Go to the Bar” and draw three cards from the deck or Brag. Before they brag they may play any number of Ploy cards (special abilities).
In order to Brag a player must have at least a Deed and Foe, but can also have a Scene and a Result. They play down their cards and read the story aloud (Roleplaying is not necessary but is encouraged.) All players then have the opportunity to play liar cards. These cards allow that player to swap any one card for a card in their hand, usually making the brag worse. The Bragging player must then read his adjusted brag out loud once more.
After each player either goes to the bar or Brags the bragging players add up their score (the numbers at the top of the card) the player with the highest score keeps all their cards using the number in the bottom right corner for victory points, the losing players keep only their highest scoring card.
The game goes until the deck runs out, the player with the most victory points at the end of the game wins.
Why Choose it?
So, it was our second meetup, at this point I didn’t know if my friends were still humouring me or if they really wanted to play games. It was Christmas, we’d had a nice meal and a glass of wine, Codenames had gone over well and we were looking for a way to wind down and relax. Braggart seemed like the obvious choice to me. It’s a small box, so it’s not intimidating, it has simple rules and fun colourful artwork. Braggart won't burn your brain and it’s funny, it has the feeling of a role playing game, or a storytelling game without requiring anything from the players.
One problem with Braggart is that the game is driven by humour, it’s funny to laugh at a player who spent the night with the unfortunate trout or ran screaming from the terrified urchin. The problem is that the game becomes less funny the more you play it with the same group. Once you’ve seen all the cards you begin to repeat combinations and that story which once generated big laughs is now just a perfunctory point scoring exercise. You can certainly add a roleplaying element to the game to bring back some of the joy if your players are comfortable with that, but once you fall out of the theme and the humour the game simply becomes about points and the best way to get them.
There is, of course, a simple fix for this, expansions! Unfortunately so far Spiral Galaxy has yet to release any. Many of us are hoping that the second edition of the game (which does come with additional cards, if only a handful) will, if successful, spawn some expansions and really allow us to mix it up with new stories and grand, tall tales.
Did they like it?
Yes they did. One player even bought himself a copy. It’s simple, it’s light and it’s fast. If your players have any experience of role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons then they will get an additional kick out of it but no such experience is necessary.
Braggart is a take-that style game which relies on humour to hide the fact that the mechanics are pretty simple. The drafting mechanism adds a little bit of an equalizer to the luck of the draw but realistically if you don’t draw the right cards you aren’t going to win no matter how well you play.
Of course, Braggart is such a light game that you should be playing it for fun, for the laughs and the stories and the moment when Bob acts out the lewd dance he performed for the Queen of the Fairies. If you are counting points and taking it seriously Braggart is going to give you no joy at all, but if you give in and let the theme overtake you then I promise you’ll have a fun time and so will everyone else.