Every great fantasy story starts in a tavern, where people can mourn the dead and recruit their replacement in one alcohol fueled night before going back out to raid some poor unsuspecting dead persons last resting place. It is a place of character, filled with heroes and typically a quest hook or two. But what’s going on while the farm boy and the old man are trying to secure passage, what do people do there except encounter shadowy strangers in the corner who turn out to be forgotten kings. Well there is only one way to find out and that’s play…………….
Bugmans is a board game based upon Bugmans the Bar run not in reality by a Dwarf but by a faceless conglomerate who have been whoring out their game system for the last few years desperate to get the last few drops from the fans they can before they implode under their own mismanagement. You can see why they opted to base it on the one about Dwarves instead, sounds a bit more fun.
The real Bugmans rests in Warhammer world in Nottingham England and allows the pilgrams who have made the trek, to buy rare over-priced and over-powered models, to rest their weary feet, drink some so-so beer and eat enormous burgers. They used to have a decent selection of smoothies at one point too but for some reason people there didn’t seem to be going for the healthy option which seemed to surprise everyone. I mean it’s not like they aren’t optimistic about some of the things they can shift there.
Anyway the game is based on the fictional tavern and you play as one of the patrons a Dwarf after drink and food and probably doing so because your mother had the decency to name you Scrumpy. I mean what hope did the child have?
Now this might sound like a simple task, get to the bar, pick up your order and take it back to your table. However there are a few problems with this. First the puddles of puke left on the floor that a wary patron could slip on or the lone shark looming over the games table. What about the moody Elf looking to start trouble because he looks too young to be served? Or, and worst of all, the other Dwarves who will push and pull, punch and kick to make sure you don’t take the bounty on offer and no I’m not talking about the barmaid.
Progress is so easy even a drunken Troll can manage it, which is good because there are a few knocking around, you move via a roll of the dice and a card from your hand which is always good for adding on those extra few spaces before you need to pick up. The problem is that these cards can be played on anyone, sending yourself forward in a race for that last XXXXX or your opponent back or even sideways into that aforementioned Troll. Should anyone get too close to anyone else, such as sharing a space then of course like any true Tavern the intimacy must be solved by beating seven bells out of each other. You may think this is an honourable affair with the two going one on one to settle their pride. You have clearly never been to a pub for this is an open invitation to all to chip in with suggestions and comments, cheers and jibes for either side, neither side or even both; whatever sounds most fun. Remember there’s no football on the telly in olden days. These suggestions, or ‘Fight Cards’ as the game calls them, are coloured to avoid you laying down too many in one go and turning a small bust up into an epic confrontation that could level the establishment.
However if you do manage to swipe something from the bar and avoid the growing crowd of customers then you might need to dodge a flying bottle or two and hope it doesn’t knock you food from the table while your away. This being the other card in hand that comes into affect when the tables between your own and the bar have begun to fill up. Where do these angry trolls, barmaids and irate customers come from, why behind the bar of course with you turning over cards to replace what you have taken giving you the option to place them right in someone else’s way. Though don’t forget this could force that grumpy dwarf from his path on the other side of the bar to use your own meandering way to the pumps and he might remember who placed that giant troll in his way.
This keeps up till you have a set amount on your table that is deemed worthy for a growing Dwarf and then the game ends with a mighty cry of “BOOZE UP!” at which point the person in front gets to swipe an extra drink while the players count the points on the bottom of their cards for in the world of bar management not everything is created equally. Some are worth one, others two and others three. Some aren’t worth anything at all and some let you take an extra card to fill up your hand with the aforementioned movement, fight and customer cards. The only other way to do this is to head off to the toilets and flush away what remains of your hand for a new one. This is probably my biggest complaint of the game with few players taking the option instead preferring to rely on food from the bar and running on empty because the race for the finish is usually so close and tight, especially on the lower number player games, that if you take a turn or two to nip off to the bogs you might as well call it a loss anyway. The few times I went for this route my only viable option was to use my new found power cards to generally annoy everyone while they swept past me in the running.
Likewise when you go to the bar and take an option you turn over its replacement, as stated generally this is another drink or plate of grub but every so often this will be something to place around the bar. Puke on the floor, lurking Trolls, or a busty barmaid to stand at the end. Some of these options are fun and really reshape the board as people have to decide whether to take the long way round or risk it for a biscuit, or whatever is on offer at the bar. Some however feel like a bit of a waste, filling out the deck to make the game feel like more. The loan Shark and pool table for instance rarely come into play in any of the games I’ve played and feel a little underwhelming whenever they do and the barmaid is generally not worth the hassle.
Now I’ve got to say the game looks and plays decently and as I recall only set me back about twenty quid. The rules reminders are printed on glossy mock menus and the art work is good, though for some reason the dice feel a little cheap in mine, something I never thought I’d hear myself say. Maybe I’m becoming more knowledgeable about such things, (aka a pretentious snob) or maybe I’m looking for something to moan about. Where to get it from is a different matter, as I said it’s available from Warhammer world and Warhammer world alone.
I’m not sure I would make the journey for the game alone, especially if they might be sold out on the day. They did used to have a bar room version, covered in glass for you to play over a pint but I seem to recall that had gone the way of the smoothie last time I went which is a shame. A great, unique souvenir if you’re about and an extortionate ebay piece for anyone else.