BarBEARian Battlegrounds (Review by RJ Garrison)

Designer:  Walter Barber, Ian VanNest

Publisher:  Greenbrier Games

Players:  2-4

Playing time:  20 minutes

Ages:  8+

MSRP:  $24.95

http://www.greenbriergames.com

Review copy provided by Greenbrier Games

The BarBEARians have woken from their long, winter hibernation and are on the rampage…?  Not really… They are looking for Glory and don’t mind stealing it from other BarBEARian clans.  

In BarBEARian Battlegrounds, players build their village, pillage resources and glory from other villages and attempt to be the Most Glorious BarBEARian clan of them all!

Each player starts with a playing mat (their village), 3 dice (their bears), 2 trial cards (special cards that are secret ways to get Glory Tokens) and 2 Glory Tokens (Victory points).

The goal:  Be the first clan to get 7 Glory Tokens.

The game is broken down into 5 phases:  Plan, Brawl, Gather, Build and Clean Up.

In the PLAN phase, players roll their dice and can use them for a variety of actions: The dice roll is public, but the placement of your dice is hidden behind screens that have the phases and market printed on each screen for quick player reference!

As you PLAN how to use your dice (your BarBEARians), they can do any of the following:

Attack other bear clans

Defend your clan’s village

Go and collect resources (Honey, Ore or Fate), you know, the Bear Necessities!

Once you send your BarBEARians out (place your dice), you complete the last 4 actions in order:

The BRAWL phase allows a player’s BarBEARian attackers to attack other tribes and steal their loot (victory points or resources).  Players take their roll and subtract any defense from the attacked player’s roll.  If the attacker has an equal or higher roll than the defender, they are allowed to steal either 1 Glory Token or 2 resources (if available).

The GATHER phase allows players to gather resources which can be spent on a variety of upgrades in their village.  They can hire mercenaries, change their die rolls, increase their or attackers by 1, hire specialists which get you resources  or extra defense each turn, bring in reinforcements (add additional BarBEARians to your dice pool) or straight out purchase Glory Tokens.

During the BUILD phase, players take their newly acquired resources, specialists, etc. and add them to their village.

After the long, bloody…well, not so bloody battles between BarBEARian tribes, comes the CLEAN UP phase.  The 1st player token is passed on to the next player, everything is straightened up, weapons are cleansed, teeth are brushed, and the table is set up for the next round.

Is the game fun?  It is.  It’s enjoyable, a bit longer than a filler, but short enough to get a quick game in with a little bit of meat on it.

COMPONENTS:  

I am mixed for my review of the components.  The cards and cardboard resources/ glory tokens/ specialists are a really nice thickness and good quality.  The village boards and cover screens are a little thin for my liking and I would have liked them to have been made a bit sturdier, but neither affects the game play negatively.  The dice are standard size, brightly colored, and work great for the game.  The rule book is clearly written and easy to follow, but I dislike that it is a large 11x16in double sided fold out rule book as opposed to just a 4 page smaller rulebook.  It doesn’t work great if you want it on the table at the same time as the game.

MECHANICS:

BarBEARian Battlegrounds uses a mix of dice mitigation, worker placement, resource management and engine building in a game that isn’t super complicated.  The mechanics work together fairly well and the game works great as a game to introduce budding gamers to a variety of mechanics without overwhelming them.  That being said, this may not be a game for your heavy euro group.

TIME & AGES:  The game is easy to teach and easy to pick up.  It runs a little long of the time marked on the box of 20 minutes and will probably run closer to 40, especially with your first couple of games.  I would probably play this with 10 years old or older, though the box is marked 8 and up.  

ARTWORK:  The artwork is super cute and helps keep this a cute, fun, cutthroat game as opposed to a bloodthirsty, not-so-fun, cutthroat game.  The different resources and cards are easy to tell apart and the art on them is simple and works with the theme.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This is a light, quick game with some cutthroat elements and a decent mix of mechanics. It is easy to teach, and play, perhaps as your starter game while waiting for other players or your end game when you’re looking for something that’s less than an hour to end your evening of gaming.  I used to run a teen board game program at my local library and this is something that would most likely come out regularly with that group, though less so with my regular gaming group, which is typically looking for something heavier.

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers:

Dan Blum (1 play):This is primarily a take-that game. I don’t particularly care for take-that games, but I am occasionally willing to play one that is simple and thematic. There’s not really a theme in this game and while it’s not complex in an absolute sense, it’s more complex than it needs to be.

I love it!

I like it.  

Neutral. RJG 

Not for me… Dan Blum

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