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.

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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!