Review: Brawling Barons – nudging allowed

Brawling Barons - packaging

I will build a great tower, which will see to the edge of the kingdom. All barons are trying to impress the king, but their petty plans with castles, granaries and ditches are not equal with my plans. But when they found out, my life started to be more and more miserable. Site bears came to our site and destroyed whole scaffolding. Then someone cut all hatchets on our instruments. I executed two workers for it, but it seems, that sabotage continues.

Battlefield is far away. In order to expand our kingdom, army rode to the attack. What a king does not see, will not hurt him. Therefore, it is time to set our kingdom in new order. Before return of the king all barons will compete with each other. And one of them is you in a card game from , a Swedish company. This game came to market in . Authors of the game are brothers Benjamin and and with illustrations join them their other brothers Isaac and Daniel.

Game can be found in a small box completely filled with cards. On the cover, you will find picture of two angry nobles, who are not far from shedding blood of the other. Expressions on their faces accurately describes, what this game is all about. You can expect more than cronyism from the cards inside. You will not find any booklet with the rules, thes are all just cards. Six double-sided of these are covered with description of rules, you will follow, when playing this creation.

Brawling Barons - game in progress

First, we therefore introduce content of most cards, which themselves are drawings of people, things and places. Each such card has its name at the top, type in left column and strength (axe) or a financial bonus (money) on its right upper side. In the upper left corner, there is always a price, which equals to number of lives on the battlefield.

What is the most interesting about these cards is the fact, that they are halved and each of these parts is significantly other than the other. They are actually two states of a single unit – before training, it’s always either a squire or a farmer. Only later on, you can flip over the card to other side. Linked to this is one frame, you will find on each half. While the untrained units contain price per turning card (= training), on the other size, there is an ability, you can use.

Among the cards, there are also several full-pages, which are different from the rest. These are action cards. But among them are shuffled also cards with a green star. These are royal cards and you must first sort them out the pile. Only then can all other cards be shuffled and each player is dealt five of them into his hand. Then you rotate other three face up – these create a market. Among the remaining cards, you can shuffle royal cards and mix it all thoroughly. After determining the first player, barons fight might start.

Brawling Barons - game in progress

Each of opponents must have enough space for cards in front of him. You will soon be adding cards to the city, but also send them on a wall to defend your citizens. Besides the town, will also have a resource pile. Each card can be used as raw material, if you play it turned face down. In this case, however, you are not playing cards from your hand, but instead taking them without watching from a drawing deck.

Thus we have mentioned first action, which you can do in your turn. You always have the option to do only one thing, then other opponents have chance to respond to your actions. And what else can you really do? In addition to mining raw materials (one for free plus additional bonuses for your units), you can also draw a card from the deck (again, one or more) or from the market.

Even more important action for your success in battle is ability to recruit new units and put them in your city. Its space lies directly in front of you on the table and above it is a line representing defensive wall. Each courtyard has its limits. Early in the game, you can have there at one point only two civilian and two military units. Therefore, you must upgrade ordinary workers (farmers and servants) to become buildings, which will free place in the courtyard for more people. Now this card enhancement is another of the activities, you can choose to perform during your turn.

Brawling Barons - game in progress

After payment of the said amount of resources, you can turn the card by 180 degrees. These resource cards fail to travel on the discard pile, because you took them without looking. Now, you return them to the top of drawing pile, not underneath as you are used to from other games. Your units can also move. Soldiers can go to the wall, which can hold as many fighters as you want. But you will not keep them there indefinitely, because result of your game is decided in victory points. And you get them just by sending your trained recruits to the king’s army and thus away from your small battlefield.

Beside playing action cards, last option in your turn is attacking opponents. You can take any number of your soldiers, both from the wall and of the city and hit the opponent. The attack can be even broken on more waves, each attack another enemy castle. When conquering alien fortress, you must first attack the wall. All units and buildings behind it are safe in this round, even if you bring it down Although the attack breaks through defensive forces on the wall, they are not able to reach beneath it this round and defender has a chance to rebuild it in his turn.

Attacker divides his power among enemy units. Each target gets hurt, but defender can still reduce this number. If a soldier gets at least as many injuries as is number of his lives, he is degraded to first level. If an attack is doubled, he is immediately destroyed. But the aggressor also has not so simple role, for all his attacking cards are also degraded and returned to his city on basic level.

Brawling Barons - game in progress

Deck also includes several action cards, that have potential power to influence development of the whole region. You can play them as action in your turn, but thereby you lose possibility to engage in other activities. Each unit is also slightly different, as it may have abilities, that help you in the fight against specific targets, or vice versa supporting you with their presence.

Game ends, when players emptied common drawing deck. Now you need to add up victory points. Greatest reward is for supplying king’s army with soldiers. For each such warrior sent, you receive two points. Your chances of winning can also be raised with buildings, each of those has a value of one additional point. A player, who has the highest total, is winner of the game.

Brawling Barons seems to be an relaxing card game, but this is feeling, where a small box of a mere 54 cards successfully deceives you. It will guide you to belief, that there is nothing it can surprise you with. Such a guarantee will last only until the moment, when you play your first game.

Brawling Barons - cards

At that moment, you will discover surprisingly tactical options on all fronts. Players face a lot of difficult decisions, because they have only a single action each round. And it is not easy to choose, because you have to keep in balance not only the resources necessary for recruiting and modernization of units, but you also have to raise buildings providing bonuses. And then there is war with the other barons. You need to have troops on the defensive wall ready to defend you, but sometimes also go to attack enemies and slow them down a bit.

But soldiers are degraded after each attack (game simulates exhaustion and injury this way), plus you still have to send men to the king from time to time to gain points. Otherwise, you can not win. The game is about a lot of things, that you need to watch and it gives you feel of managing your barony, which is working very well.

Difficulty of the game is also related to game time, which, despite the small box, will be at least around one hour. A we are talking about two players game. But Brawling Barons go much further, because fans can purchase additional boxes and thus expanding possibilities of the game for even more players. With two packages, you can play in three and four players. Game remains balanced, but its time is extended to 90 minutes, and players will sometimes wait longer for their next turn. Wwaiting times are probably the only minus in multiplayer games. But many decisions can be planned and you have to watch for enemy attacks as well. And only one action per player turn is the minimum time, that can be taken from you in such a game.

Brawling Barons - cards

Of course, the game has a strong focus on attacking other opponents. This is important, because by disposing of the enemy soldiers on the wall, they are unable to send anyone to the king and get points. And doing this provides a really great satisfaction. But then you must expect retaliation. Additionally, if someone leads, you can be sure, that others run to his estate and will not only kill his servants, but also demolish his buildings!

Despite its advanced features, rules are reamining very simple. You just need to remember actions, that you have available every turn. Everything else is totally intuitive. But that does not mean, you will not have anything to think about. Definitely not. Just simply do not have to focus on „what to do when“, but rather deal with „what to play when“.

Cards of royal aid package are in here to balance the situation. Their inclusion in the game is disputed by us. Each balancing mechanism finds its supporters and opponents (an example can be taken from currently in our office played Tash-Kalar). It can disturb your sense of justice from the game. Fortunately bonuses they provide are always only small and really only slightly push player, who is behind. Their usage makes sense especially in the game with more opponents. In two, we do not recommend using them, because it spoils feeling of successful planning.

Brawling Barons - cards

The same would apply to the action cards. You need luck to obtain them from the drawing pile, but that’s not done so often. Most of the time you know in advance, which card are you getting from the marketplace. That’s why in the end, even this chance does not play such a fundamental role. Market offer is an important element of the game, that greatly reduces the effect of luck in the whole game.

Brawling Barons is one of those amazing games, about which we did not know anything, until they came to our office. Coming from the frozen Sweden, it also carries so much hot fun in its box, it could take anyone by surprise. Perhaps only those illustrations may not be your cup of tea. But the whole game develpoment, including graphics, is part of the family publishing house, so there should no problem to turn a blind eye on this. Variable and exciting game until the last minute, and above all a really good price make Brawling Barons obligation for each card games player.

DesignerJonathan Fryxelius, Benjamin Fryxelius
ArtistDaniel Fryxelius, Benjamin Fryxelius, Isaac Fryxelius
Year Published2012
# of Players2 - 3
User Suggested # of Players Best with 3+ players
Recommended with 2, 3+ players
(12 voters)
Playing Time20
Mfg Suggested Ages10 and up
User Suggested Ages8 and up
(4 voters)
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(6 voters)
CategoryCard Game, City Building, Fighting, Medieval
MechanicHand Management
Primary NameBrawling Barons

Infos courtesy of More Infos.

Review: Brawling Barons – nudging allowed
Final word
Brawling Barons is amazingly simple and well thought-out card game, which lets you play royal. You will have a whole castle under command and have to support it with new buildings and crew. You play both of these as cards from your hand and they always come in two levels. First is untrained units, usually a squire, while after training, you get a specialized soldier with specific skills. To do all this, you need resources, which are excellently handled. By using them, you return them to top of drawing pile without looking, therefore shifting game. Players have to attack each other all the time, as they are trying to break through defense and destroy buildings behind. But victory points can only be gained for soldiers send to fight war with your king. By correctly using all your options, you will enjoy lots of fun in a reasonable timeframe. What is great is the price, so you will not mind need to buy second deck to play with more than two. Brawling Barons is one of those games, that offer enormous joy in relation to its dimensions.
Reader Rating0 Votes
lots of conflicts
two-level cards
victory points by sacrificing soldiers
interesting resource management
long games
simple action choice
soldiers are weakened after a fight
lots of tactical decisions
luck in card draw
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