Tavern Fame is a bidding card game by Table Tyrant Games, an Australian Indie Developer, in which players take the role of adventurers in a pub boasting about their various conquests, knocking back drinks by the dozen, and gathering a crowd of adoring onlookers. Each round, a Monster is revealed from the central deck, and players take it in turns to boast about how many Monsters of that type they have already killed. Other players can accept these boasts, up the ante and boast a higher number, or demand that the player proves their boast by slaying that amount or more monsters. However it is done, either uncontested, winning a fight, or successfully calling a bluff, a player is granted more drinks, and more patrons. The first player to gain a following of 10 patrons is the winner.
The final box of Tavern Fame will be about the size of a game of Coup (just shy of an A5 piece of paper), and will contain a single deck of cards, comprising 10 Monster Cards, and 5 Character Cards. It will also include 25 meeples, representing the tavern patrons, # tokens representing drinks, and a fistful of dice for gameplay resolution. I was lucky and our copy came with one of the stretch goals thrown in, so we received an additional 10 Monsters and 15 Characters to play with.
Monster Cards feature a beautifully, and often hilariously, rendered image of a standard fantasy creature, like a Zombie, Werewolf, or wine-swilling Vampire, as well as the Monster’s Health, and the reward that a player gets for slaying the Monster. Character Cards feature another ridiculous and characterful image of a fantasy class, such as Paladin, Ranger, Alchemist, or Wizard. These cards hold three bits of information: the Character’s Strength, the bonus they receive on a Perfect Bluff (that is, killing the exact amount they bluffed about), and their Preferred Enemies (Monsters they get bonuses to kill).
Tavern Fame is suggested as being a fantastic ice breaker to a session of Tabletop Roleplaying, in that players could easily play a round of Tavern Fame and then use that as a springboard to go on with an RPG proper. Whilst there is some validity to this idea, for the most part it would breed a very specific type of RPG experience – very casual, very “Beer and Pretzels”, as they say.
Regardless of this intention, the game is certainly fun! It works fantastically as a standalone game that can be played in a handful of minutes, taking approximately the same play time as a game of Love Letter, or a few hands of Cards Against Humanity or SuperFight. The limited amount of cards and pieces means it takes up a small table area, making it perfect for pub play, if you wanted to increase the immersion. And whilst the vanilla rules don’t support it as a drinking game, very little would need to be changed to add that element in yourself.
One glaring issue that was had during play was ambiguity in the rules: far too often was I left having to make assumptions based on what was written. Who exactly is the Challenger when no one Challenges? Who buys the next round when the Challenger successfully calls a bluff? Who buys when they fail? The rules are a little unspecific, and this halted gameplay a few times, though hopefully that will be resolved in the final print. Luckily, there are so few rules that this wasn’t much of an issue.
Tavern Fame will be going live on Kickstarter for crowdfunding on the 19th of June at 9AM AEST (that’s GMT + 10 for those not in Australia). The Kickstarter goal is for $8000 AUD, but they have some big plans for stretch goals, which I was lucky enough to sample as well (additional cards, at this point), and these definitely increased the replayability and fun provided.
Tavern Fame is a great game for quick, rules-light, medium luck, and low strategy gameplay. It is perfect for sitting around with a group of friends and having a laugh as you drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol in-game (and maybe out of game – but this author would never encourage that, obviously). Finally, in all my dealings with Table Tyrant Games, they have showed the utmost professionalism, care, and attention to detail, giving me full confidence that they will deliver their Kickstarter rewards on time and at great quality.
15-30 Minutes. 2-5 Players. 10+ Years.