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Graham Marsden
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I saw this game at Dragonmeet today and, having seen it played and getting in on a Demo game, I decided it was worth buying.

It's for 2-6 players, age 10+ and runs for 30-45 minutes (although see below).

The Theme is that you and your fellow players are sitting in "The Hero's Return" pub boasting of your greatest deeds, but be careful, if you make too many outrageous claims, someone may call you a liar and force you to admit what actually happened...!

The game comes in a nice sturdy "twin deck" cardboard box containing 120 cards with one "My Round" card to indicate who is the starting player, six Round Sequence Cards, the Boast cards themselves which are divided up into "Scene", "Deed", "Foe" and "Result", some "Ploy" cards (which let you steal cards from other players) and finally "Liar!" cards.

To select the starting player you "Argue amongst yourselves to determine who has performed the most impressive feat during their life" which is a nice idea, but that might take a while That person gets the "My Round" card to denote they're starting player and each player is then dealt four cards.

The game runs on a series of Rounds, firstly you deal out a number of face-up cards equal to the number of players and everyone gets to pick one of the cards starting with the one who has the "My Round" card in front of them.

The starting player can then either a) "Go to the Bar" where they draw three more cards (usually because they lack the cards to make a decent Boast) but do nothing more for that Round or b) Play "Boast" cards which is where the fun begins.

Before you start your Boast you can play "Ploy" cards, eg stealing a card at random from another player or demanding eg a "Scene" card from someone (if they have it) in the hope that you may get something to improve your Boast.

Each Boast must have a minimum of a Deed and a Foe, however you can (if you have the cards) also start with a Scene and end with a Result.

The Boast cards have text on them which tell a story, for instance a Scene can be "In the Queen's Bedchamber..." or "Having infiltrated the Enemy Camp..." or even "Whilst wearing nothing more than my boots and a smile..."(!)

This is followed by a Deed eg "I won a chariot race against..." or "I danced to impress..." or "I barely overcame" and then a Foe such as "...a party of drunken Dwarves" or "...the gladiator champion of a nearby Kingdom"

Finally, if you have a Result it could be "...and now I am employed at the Royal Court!" or "...then I drank so much ale I was banned from three taverns"

So what happens is as you play these cards in front of you, they are combined to tell a story such as "Having infiltrated the Enemy Camp, I barely overcame the Gladiator Champion of a nearby Kingdom and now I am employed at the Royal Court!"

Each Boast card has a value, the greater the deed the greater the value of the Boast and the person who, at the end of the Round has related the greatest deed is the winner and gets to keep all of the Boast cards they played for scoring, whereas any others who Boasted only get to keep one of the Boast card they played and the others are discarded.

Of course some people (heaven forfend!) may not believe you which is where the "Liar!" cards come in. Another player may play a Liar! card, taking one of the cards you have played and swapping it with a card from their hand, so, for instance, they may eg declare "You, Sir, are a Liar! I happen to know that it wasn't the Gladiator Champion, but merely a Terrified Urchin!" (and thus knocking several points off the value of the Boast).

The game continues with the My Round card moving to the next player and starting a new Round until there are no more cards left to draw at which point the value of all the cards is totaled and the person with the highest score is declared Lord Braggart!

Good points of the game:

The cards are of good quality, printed on playing card size coated stock meaning they won't easily get messed up or scuffed if you're playing at the pub.

The artwork is excellent, the pictures on each card are amusing and varied and the card text is clear and easy to read.

The gameplay is fairly quick and fun, especially if the players get into the spirit of it with appropriate gasps of amazement (or derisory comments) and applause for a particularly good boast.

Not quite so good points:

The game details say that it runs from 30-45 minutes which, IMO, is a bit long for what is really more of a fun filler than a long game. I'd suggest that setting a time limit on play (eg "we'll play X rounds" or we'll play for 20 minutes") might work better.

One comment that came up several times when trying the game out was that there weren't enough Liar! cards. There are 92 Boast cards (14 Scenes, 32 Deeds, 32 Foes and 14 Results) then 10 Liar! Cards (8 x standard Liar! and 2 x Outrageous Liar! which lets you swap two cards in a Boast instead of only one) plus 11 Ploy cards, ie 113 cards total in play meaning on average only one in eleven cards is a Liar! card.

I'd have liked to have seen a few more Liar! cards because scotching someone else's carefully contrived Boast is one of the best parts of the game

There's one final oddity in that each Boast card has a value between 1 and 9 in the top corners which you total to decide who has the best Boast, however there's also a "coin" in the bottom corner and these coin values (smaller than the Boast values) are totalled to determine victory. There is an "Advanced Rule" that victory is calculated on the total Boast Values instead which strikes me as a little strange as if the designers couldn't quite make up their minds which to use.

Still, apart from these minor points, I did enjoy this game and I think run on a slightly shorter time scale (or just played a bit quicker) it would make a nice filler between heavier games.
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Peer Sylvester
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Hi,

thanks for the review! I always was under the impression, braggart is a storytelling game like Once upon a time and alike. Thanks for clearing that up :-)

One question: Is it a light game or is there some skill involved in choosing the cards etc.?
 
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Graham Marsden
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In the "Draft" phase you may get to choose which card you pick up, although this does tend to depend on where you are in the play order.

For example if you need a Scene or a Result Card it may be worth picking up one of those (even if it's worth fewer points than a Foe card that's available) because you think that adding that to your next Boast will give you a better chance of winning the Round.

Other than that, as mentioned, you can use Liar! cards to steal a card out of someone's Boast, so using those tactically can be worthwhile, but draws from the deck are, of course, random.

Mostly you just have to make the choice whether to go for a Boast with the cards available in your hand or Go to the Bar in the hope of picking up something better so you can win a subsequent Round after others have Boasted.
 
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Pope Leviathan
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Hi Graham.

Thanks for the good words, glad you enjoyed Braggart!

The point of the coins in the bottom was down to counting issues. If only playing with 2 players (sometimes 3) and counting the normal points the counting can take forever, especially for those whose maths is not quite as good as others (mine for instance )As you very rightly point out, Braggart was built as a fun filler game and so it seemed silly to spend half the filled time counting rather than playing ridiculous boasts. Having a lower set of numbers speeds this up notably and allows for a faster return to sillyness .

Happy boasting!

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Andy Hopwood
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Ok here's my twopenneth.

First of all I'll qualify this by saying I know Kyle well and therefore am bound to say good things about this game, but I will distill what I have to say just to the things I genuinely believe to be true about this game.

Also, in case you hadn't already guessed, I'm not an award winning review writer, so bear with me while I ramble through these opinions.

1. Braggart IS fun, there's more laughs than depth
BUT
2. There are some tactics to be found.
For example - If you constantly boast big you'll get attacked left right and centre. Boasting "under the radar" can net you a huge number of single big score cards. By this I mean that if your opponent boasts large, don't try to defeat him, boast with one MASSIVE card and one small card. It's a very efficient way to use the Unfortunate Trout etc.. score 7 or 8 points every turn and you'll do well.
You also avoid the attentions of the liar cards.

3. The LIAR cards. More liar cards would mean more chaos and, for me, there's already plenty enough of that. If anything I would reduce the number of LIAR cards. By doing this you make them more valuable and more terrifying. Too many Liar cards would diminish the freedom of expression and pleasure of building a good boast.

4. Time. I will agree that Braggart may go on a bit long for the depth of the game but sometime you do want to "fill" 30 minutes rather than 10 and you can always reduce the time by reducing the pack.

5. Newbies. I love games that bring non-gamers into the world of games and this is another one that breaks people in gently.

If you are looking for a deep game that's stretch your mind, try something else. If you want a fun game that'll stretch your smile go for Braggart.

That's my lot, for what it's worth.

Andy

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Graham Marsden
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I've got to admit that the "cheap boast" tactic hadn't occurred to me.

It is fun going for the "mega-boast", but I can see how one big card and one small card would work, especially if you don't have a Liar card which you can use to swap your Unfortunate Trout for someone else's Evil Necromancer

I did think about reducing the size of the deck for a shorter game, but it's difficult to know what to take out. Do you drop some of each high, mid and low value cards? Do you just take out 1/3rd of the deck and random, whatever may be in there? Is there a way to do this which doesn't risk skewing things because you accidentally took out a whole bunch of Foe cards?

It is, indeed, a good newbie game (I'm planning on taking it home for Xmas and introducing my nephews to it )
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Pope Leviathan
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Hi Graham

A thought on reducing the size of the game (may take some time though).

Though each foe and deed card are different, the points are not. There are multiple cards worth 5 points for example. You could take some of those out? The Deeds and foes have exactly the same point system so if you took out a few 2/3/8+ point cards and a few more 4/5/6/7 point cards and did exactly the same to the foes it will still be relatively balanced. Then if you have a look at the scenes and results you could do the same as those two are matched as well. Take 1 outrageous liar and a few liar/trip to the bar etc cards out as well and you have a smaller game. However doing that may take longer than the game so if you were to do it regularly I would take a note of which ones go out for ease.

If you do try a smaller deck or find a better way of shrinking it please let me know, I am genuinly interested

All the best over the Christmas period!
 
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Graham Marsden
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(I had written a reply to this, but I lost it when BGG went offline last night )

I played Braggart with another group yesterday evening and they also enjoyed it, but again the feeling was that, even with six players, it going on for about 30 minutes was a bit long.

As regards reducing the deck size, I was thinking that rather than taking out specific cards, you could go through the deck and take out eg the first four Scene and Result Cards you find and the first eight Deed and Foe Cards and maybe a couple of Liar and Ploy Cards.

This would (statistically) still keep the same balance of cards whilst reducing the playing deck size from 113 cards to 85 which should shorten the game somewhat.

Those figures might need to be tweaked according to the number of players, that would need some play-testing to find the optimal balance of cards versus play length.
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Graham Marsden
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A follow up to the above:

I played this game with my nephews (aged 13 and 15) over Xmas but did as I suggested in the previous post, taking out four Scenes and Results and eight Deeds and Foes.

Even with explaining the game it brought a three player game down to around 30 minutes which seems a lot better and if we'd played it again it would probably have been between 20-25 minutes maximum.

Taking out the cards as mentioned didn't upset the balance, so if you want a quicker game, it's worth trying this modification.
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