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Speed Review: Braggart

The UK Games Expo is a magical place. Each and every year we turn up with family and friends in the mood for games and buying games. Last year, on the Saturday, my old man came with us, and that is where this review comes in.

Whilst at the UK Games Expo last year, Dad bought himself a copy of the game we’ll be looking at today – Braggart. Braggart is a story telling game, which takes around 30 minutes to play for 2 to 6 people.

Now, 30 minutes is a pretty lax time for a speed review (the whole concept of a speed review is that it needs to be written in less time than it takes to play the game); so let’s leisurely saunter down the world of myth, legends, and making stuff up.

Right – let’s do this.

What is Braggart?

Braggart is a storytelling card game, designed by Kyle Daniel and published by Spiral Galaxy Games, in which you play the part of a wanna be hero who wants to come up with the most outrageously believable story that he/she is heralded as a legend.

How is Braggart played?

Braggart is played over the course of several rounds, with each round separated into several phases. The first phase is the draft phase in which players choose from a marketplace of cards in the middle of the table. You can then do one of two things – go to the bar or boast to your cronies. If you choose the former then you get to draw three cards from the top of the deck and that is the end of your round.

If you choose to boast to your cronies, however, things change, and that is where the majority of the game takes place. Using cards from your hand you can forge a story. There are several different types of cards, of which all stories (or boasts) take place with one deed and one foe card. For instance, you might have “”accidentally summoned”” [deed] “”Ug, Krug, and Glug”” [foes]. Alternatively, you can also add up to one scene and one result to your story. This means that you might have “”Astride my mighty steed”” [scene] “”I accidentally summoned”” [deed] “”Ug, Krug, and Glug”” [foes] “”then I drank so much ale I was banned from three taverns””.

Cards have points on them if you manage to pull it off successfully, as well as relevancy symbols. If you match two relevancy symbols in your tale then you get to draw a card when you score the boast. Three symbols and you get to draw two cards, and match all four and you get to draw three cards.

Of course, there are ways of messing with one another. It is possible to play cards that intercept boasts by replacing cards (Liar cards and Outrageous Liar cards), Witness Cards to protect story aspects, “”Yes I Did!”” cards to cancel the effects of Liar cards, and Bar Brawls cause cards to get reshuffled between players.

The game ends when there are no cards left, and then all the points are scored from the cards played.

What is it like playing Braggart?

There is a spectrum in storytelling games. On one side we have an open format like with Gloom or Bucket of Doom. These are games where the whole story needs to be told around one concept or idea.

As we move down the scale we come across games like Top Hats and Treachery, which offer a stricter set of guidelines with which to back your story around. Finally, you come across the likes of Braggart. Braggart is a game that allows for the story to be created out of set components where those components are either chosen (from a joint market place) or randomly attributed through chance.

What this makes for is a game that is quite fun, and where the challenge isn’t so much the story aspect but the aspect of maximising the number of points you get each turn via choosing the right cards each turn. There is some strategy to this; however, that strategy becomes more apparent when there are more players. With more players you can play the players a lot more. With two players it becomes a bit of a churning game, as there is more control over what you choose. You want to get better cards, and getting better cards constitutes getting more cards in your hand. There is a hand limit of 8, which slows this churn down; however, not by a huge amount.

This leads to one of the problems with the game. The box says Braggart is for 2-6 players, whereas the rules say “”3-6 Wannabe Heroes””. Where this is a small point, it does sway the game, as for a two player game there are a lot of cards to get through.

At its core, Braggart is a humorous game and it has some real quirks to it. The artwork is funny, and some of the cards are strokes of genius. Together the card topic and card artwork can form stories that are worth a good giggle – “”Atop the ruined citadel, illuminated by flashes of lightning…I got very drunk with…an exceptionally alluring troll…and I am soon to be knighted for my efforts.””

That being said, the game can run long, especially with fewer players. I haven’t played with 6 players, but I imagine with 6 it could be a really good game. With two, it does drag on a little bit.

Would we recommend Braggart?

That aside, Braggart is good for a thematic chuckle. The cards do work well together, and although the size of the game could do with some tweaking, it works well in small bursts. It offers something different to the open storytelling game, and for that purpose is perfect for those who want to test out the storytelling genre without having to roleplay. Due to the fantasy theme of the game it can fit quite nicely into a themed day as a warm up game or filler game. Braggart is light, funny, good willed, not hugely competitive, and fills a relaxing gap for a chilled evening.

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