Tag Archives: Spiral Galaxy

Metal Guru – Bronze preview

BronzeCOVER

Finding a decent game that is strictly for two players can be a tricky task indeed. I swear blind that Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is a sure thing, but sometimes you want to do something on a grander scale than simply constructing a farm. Perhaps you fancy taking the reigns of a civilisation and seeing if you can destroy those who rise before you, all in twenty minutes? Now you’ll get to do precisely that in a new game called Bronze from Spiral Galaxy.

Originally based on a PC game designed to be played solitaire, it’s now been transferred to the tabletop where you’ll vie against a single human opponent to see if you can dominate the map. With each player randomly allocated a civilisation from a selection of six, Bronze is a quick playing engine building affair with a fair dash of tile placement and area control – you start off with no money so will need to get resources to hand as quickly as you can; thankfully as you expand across the field of play you’ll gain access to more and more. As your access to resources expands, so do the opportunities to build bigger and better creations; however, you can get stuck quite quickly as each of the seven building types are limited. Leave it too long and your opponent could well steal the lot, leaving you high and dry.

Of course, you may not have to worry about this too much – with each player in control of a different civilisation, they could also have access to other buildings or even be able to pay less for those you can purchase. This asymmetric play adds some extra value to the package as a whole – after all, there are plenty of combinations to experiment with, and with four base maps included the options open up even further. Rules are also included to design your own maps, so the variety is almost infinite.

Mid game - things are going well for the

Mid game – things are going well for the Egyptians!

Actual gameplay is very straightforward – even newbie gamers will be able to grasp the whole thing within a game or so. With only three options to choose from on each turn, Bronze is simplicity itself. You can either expand your territory with a Farm, expand with a Building, or convert a Farm into a Building, but the trick to winning is all down to timing; get the right building on the board at the right time and you could steal the win. The game ends when one player can perform one of these actions, victory points are totalled up and your winner is declared.

In the games I’ve played I have found that there’s often a tipping point, a moment you can see precisely where the game turned in one player’s favour; some may consider this a bad thing, but in a game that plays so quickly, it’s hard to be entirely down on it. In fact, it’s actually suggested in the rules that you set aside enough time to play twice, switching civilisations after the first game and combining the points after both plays to see who wins.

It’s been interesting spending time with Bronze. Early plays didn’t really grab me; it wasn’t until I got a few games under my belt that I realised the depth that was in there. Of course, as it plays so speedily we’re not exactly talking Twilight Imperium here, but it offers a higher level of complexity than you may initially expect, and while it may not entirely take the place of Agricola: ACBAS as my two-player game of choice, it’ll certainly be hitting the table regularly when I’m looking for a head-to-head blast.

Thanks to the folks at Spiral Galaxy Games for letting me have some time with the only prototype that’s out there! If you’re interested in Bronze, you can get involved with the current Kickstarter campaign where a copy will set you back £30 – it ends on February 28th 2013 though, so be quick! 

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Beautiful Liar – Braggart review

When it comes to elements in a game that I enjoy, there’s little that can bring in more laughs than telling ridiculous stories. A particularly good example is the rather excellent Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen where players spin wild tales of derring-do, only to be interrupted by their opponents who attempt to trip them up by challenging their tremendous lies. The only problems with playing Munchausen are that it really requires folks who are able to make up utter rubbish on the spur of the moment, and sadly not everyone can do that. Also, it can take an absolute age.

What if you’d like the story aspect of a game but fear that your imagination isn’t up to scratch? How about if you’ve only got a short time in which to play? In that case, I have just the game for you – one that will allow you and your fellow gamers to make ridiculous boasts, accuse everyone of being liars and still make it home before the kebab shop shuts. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to break out a copy of Braggart.

Between two and six players act as wannabe heroes (it even says that in the rules) and will construct impressive stories by laying down cards from their hands. These cards are split into four separate types; Scenes, Deeds, Foes and Results, all of which should be reasonably self-explanatory.

Each round is split into two phases, Drafting and Boasting. Drafting sees as many cards as there are players laid out in front of everyone with players adding just one to their hand until all are taken. The meat of the game takes place during the Boasting phase, however… and this is where things can turn rather nasty.

Here you’ve got two options. Visiting the Bar will let you grab extra cards from the deck but that’ll mean the end of your turn. You can potentially cause problems for your opposition by playing Ploy cards on them, then it’s time to do something a little more significant: telling tales! This means you’ll build a (hopefully) impressive feat using one Deed and one Foe card. You may also add a Scene and Result to your story, potentially adding to their value. This could end up being something truly incredible, such as getting into a bar fight with some assassins or acting as a bodyguard for an undead king… but watch that you don’t provoke the ire of your opponents, for if you do, they could accuse you of lying.

This is where the fun comes in and things start taking a turn for the odd. If a player happens to have a LIAR! card in their hand they may play it while you’re boasting, replacing an element from your story in a like for like manner. That alleged bar fight with the assassins? They heard you got into a ruckus with a chicken instead and will steal your high value card which they can then use for themselves, replacing it with something much lower. Thankfully, no matter how ridiculous your story ends up, as long as there’s still one sitting in front of you at the conclusion of the round you’re allowed to take at least one of the cards and place it on your scoring pile – the player with the highest value boast actually ends up scoring all their cards. Once the draw deck has been depleted, whoever has the most points at the end is declared Lord Braggart… and that’s about it!

First impressions of Braggart are that it’s a very very silly game, and you’d be right – however, scratch the surface and you’ll see there’s a great mix of fun and skill in the gameplay. Choosing the right moment to lay out a spectacularly impressive story feels like gaming gold, but then when you realise you’ve miscalculated and there’s still some LIAR! cards out there it feels like a real punch in the gut – especially when it turns out by the end of the round that you’ve been babysitting a trout or some such other nonsense.

The game moves along at a speedy pace and is filled with good humour. It’s great when everyone bellows their tales at the top of their voices in a bid to add that little extra bit of drama, and the mix of stories that are created are always entertaining. Regarding production, the art by Vicki Paull is fun, the cards are nice and thick, and it’s a perfect little game to throw in your bag and bring out at the end of a night. Just make sure you don’t get left with the unfortunate fish…

Braggart was designed by Kyle Daniel and is published by Spiral Galaxy Games. Originally released back in 2010, between two and six can play (but I find it’s best with more). If you fancy picking up a copy, you can grab one from the good folks at Gameslore for £8.99 – bargain!

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