BARPIG: AFTER HOURS
By Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee on May 31, 2019
What the hell happened last night? The pain in my head is unbearable; the world seems to be turning in all the wrong directions and there are cards all over the floor. We were just supposed to go out for a quiet drink at the bar. And why am I now the proud owner of medieval clothing, a Viking helmet and what can only be described as a PINK PRINCESS DRESS? What is all this stuff doing here in my love shack? It must have been a good night! What? Yes, I know it's kind of a pigsty, but... hey, wait a minute; Now that you mention it, I do, albeit vaguely, remember pigs being at the bar yesterday... No, I must have remembered that wrong. But still... images of pigs and hogs in strange clothing keep popping up in my memories...
Yes, ladies and gentlepigs; we seem to have acquired a copy of Barpig: After Hours, a brand new game that sprang from the genius but somewhat twisted minds of two awesome guys: Jonathan Franklin and Phillip Melchers; the same guys that brought you the incomparable game called Barpig. The Barpig Gurus, as they are otherwise known, have launched a Kickstarter campaign for this brand new, standalone expansion to Barpig at the UK Gaming Expo in Birmingham on the 31st of May!
If... no wait, WHEN successfully funded, Barpig: After Hours will be widely made available, complete with ten new character cards, seven bar tab and seven level cards, forty-five item cards (including 9 brand new item types that can also be used in conjunction with the original Barpig), dice and all the rules you'll ever need on one single rule card. All of this, and hopefully some more cool stuff, depending on the achieved stretch goals (fingers crossed!), will all be neatly packaged in a small but awesome looking box and delivered right to your doorstep!
The game is set up really quickly. Every player takes a bar tab and level card, as well as a random character card. Put the Level card in front of you and place the bar tab card on top of it. By sliding the bar tab card up / down or left / right, you can adjust your level and your sober points to their current level. Then, by placing your character card on top of the bar tab card, you can also keep track of the number of drinks you still have left. All item cards and the remaining character cards get placed in the middle of the table in two separate stacks.
Now, you may wonder why the rules of the game aren't printed in a booklet but, instead, on a single card. Well, my Hog-loving friends, the reason behind this is simple; the rules thought up by the Barpig Gurus are so easy to learn that they don't require 4,637 pages in small print. Basically, a round goes something like this: every player rolls the dice and whoever rolls the highest, gains a level (except when another player can counteract this outcome by playing a card, but I'll come back to that in a minute). The player to be the first to reach level 5 wins the game.
Now you might think that a lucky player just rolls for 5 consecutive turns and reaches level 5 in no time flat. Well, bad luck, my chums. You see, the player who rolls highest on this turn, is prohibited from rolling the dice during the next turn, evening out the odds quite a bit. And that's it, basically. Yes, I know it may be unbelievable but it's true; playing Barpig is just that simple... BUT! Yes, there is a "but". The player who rolls the highest number during a turn also gets to play their character's extra-ultra-ultimate special ability. And this, dear readers, is where the real fun kicks in and the wonderful process of losing of drinks and sober points starts.
So, you've come out on top after the dice roll, now what? Well, time to check your character card and see what special ability your character has. These abilities come in the form of a challenge. Sometimes, the entire table is involved while, at other times, the challenged is focused on two of the other players. The single best thing about these challenges is the fact that they don't need a stupid hash tag and about three zillion brainless followers to be cool. No siree, these challenges are awesome right out of the gate. A challenge is read aloud and must be played instantly.
To give you a few examples of said challenges: If your character is the Muskartini, players must slap each other's hands while, in a loud voice, repeating the challengers made up (and, most of the time, fairly ridiculous) cheer. If you, on the other hand, have the Vodkleric as your character, you choose two players who have to give each other compliments until one of the two runs out of things to say. You could also be so lucky as to be the Meadium. This means you get to pick a number of objects on the table which other players then have to touch as fast as possible... with their eyes closed! And, oh yeah, players must also not touch each other while trying to touch the objects or they lose.
The goal of these challenges is mainly to not finish last because, if you do, you'll lose sober points. The more sober points you lose, the closer to being black out drunk you will be. When you run out of sober points, your character is too drunk to play and gets discarded. You then take a new character from the character draw pile, giving you a whole new special ability to play around with. And although it's great fun to play a different character (seeing as how all the characters in the game are totally awesome!), blacking out will unfortunately also mean that you'll lose one of your hard-earned levels as punishment for getting LUBAR (Liquored Up Beyond All Recognition).
The game is pretty open when it comes to the creativity of its players and doesn't really have a lot of restrictions. It does come with a disclaimer however, which states that you should always drink responsibly; a good thing on all accounts. Besides, with the bar tab in place, you don't need to drink to play the game... or even to join in the sublime acts of total and utter idiocy that are sure to ensue. You see, really wanting to win does do strange things to people all by itself, without any booze required. This might very well be the reason why you're suddenly being "charmed" by a complete stranger who, for reasons known only to him, starts licking your ear... Now, I am not saying this happened to me... no really... I WAS JUST GIVING AN EXAMPLE, OKAY?!
After the challenge round is concluded, the market round starts. In this round, players can choose to either buy an item cards or recharge their bar tab. This is done by simply stating what you are planning on doing. If you choose to buy an item, you take the top card of the item pile and pay the required number of drinks, listed in the top left corner of the item card. The same goes for recharging your bar tab. If you chose to do so, you also take the top card of the item card pile and recharge your bar tab with the same number of drinks as shown on the item card.
An item cards may be played at any time during the game and can contain a variety of powers, like stealing other players' items or overruling a previously played item card's power to tip the odds in your direction. There's even a card that deflects the "damage" coming your way. Play this card when you are about to lose sober points or drinks, and let another player take the hit for you. Or why not eat a Mysteriously Discarded Half Eaten Kebab to restore some of the sober points you may have lost along the way? No, you don't really have to eat a second hand kebab; that's just the name of the Item card... or is it?
There are also item cards without a drink value. These cards come in two varieties and must be played immediately as they're picked up. The first variety of these cards forces the player who picked it up to change his or her character, while the second variety gives you the opportunity to pick another player who now loses their character. Now, don't worry; losing your character this way does not mean you also lose your level points or drinks. Your stats will remain the same as they were before.
This is one of two really neat improvements in this standalone expansion. Instead of losing all your level points in the event of losing a character due to the fact that you got black out drunk, you now only go down one level, so you don't have to start all over again. The second improvement is the fact that the character cards rotate less quickly than they did in the original version of Barpig. This was especially a good thing for us, because we desperately wanted to see all the new characters in action, before they got thrown out of the pub by the bouncer.
The only thing left for me to do is to tell you what I think about Barpig. Well, I can be brief about that, because Barpig: After Hours is, in one word: Pigtastic! The game perfectly manages to do what a lot of games fail to do, and that is to bring ludicrous amounts of laughter into your life. And I don't mean the "a-chuckle-every-now-and-again" laughter, but rather the "Please-stop-I-can't-breathe!" kind of laughter. Now, Barpig: After Hours might not offer the most in-depth strategic gameplay this world has ever seen, but the fun thing about this is that the game doesn't try to do so. Yes, there is more than enough strategy involved, mixed with some luck, a lot of bravado and, of course, the willingness to make a complete pig's ass of oneself! And, in contrast with a large number of "serious" strategy games, Barpig manages to never, never-ever, never-ever-ever get boring.
If you are looking for a game that offers tons of fun, has cards with more than outstanding artwork (a department in which most other party games are seriously lacking) and features a very nice yet somewhat dark adventurous medieval theme, you should really give Barpig: After Hours a try. Just keep in mind never to underestimate your opponents while playing this game, because you never know what they'll hit you with next (not literally, of course). And because you'll have to keep one eye on your opponents and one eye on your items, sober points, level and drinks, this game is guaranteed to make you go cross-eyed at least once every five minutes. No, but seriously (really?!); Barpig: After Hours offers way more in terms of strategy than any other drinking game out there, while still managing to be hilarious 110% percent of the time.
But Dumeeple, I already own Barpig! What's the use of still backing Barpig: After Hours? Well, my friends; this expansion offers a somewhat darker take on the characters. Plus, it doubles the number of cards you own. And, because After Hours can either be played stand-alone as well as in conjunction with the original Barpig, You can effectively double the number of awesome cards in your possession! So, however you look at it, you just can't go wrong , now can you?!
Lastly, I would like to offer you some advice. Whenever you see the Barpig Guru's at a convention or a game night, make sure to stop by and say hi. I've met with Johno and Phil several times, like at Spiel 2018 and it there's always an awesome party going on at their self-built medieval tavern stand. So much in fact, that they even manage to completely block off the wide corridors with the sheer number of people who desperately want to know what it's like being a pig! And not just some ordinary pig; nothing of the sort! People are literally lining up to see what it's like to be a genuine, honest-to-god Barpig!
DumeeGamer.com would like to stress that no pigs were (seriously) harmed during the making of this review. The barbecue after writing the review was an entirely different story, however...
BARPIG: AFTER HOURS
The Barpig Gurus
The Barpig: After Hours Kickstarter Campaign
Year of release: TBA 2019
Designer: Jonathan Franklin & Philip Melchers
Artist: Frederick van de Bunt
Players: 3 - 7 players, ages 16 & up
Playtime: approx. 30 - 45 minutes