Board Game Review: Cryptozoic Entertainment – Bravest Warriors

Bravest Warriors: Co-operative Dice Game
Bravest Warriors: Co-operative Dice Game is a dice with card game themed after the Bravest Warriors cartoon, designed by Pendleton Ward and published by Cryptozoic Entertainment.
By Aaron T. Huss

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I love playing role-playing games with my friends. I love playing strategic and tactical board and card games with my friends. However, I really love playing quick dice and tile games with my kids. Not that I’m trying to move them to bigger games, but that I love how excited they get when we play a quick hobby game that isn’t a staple of Target or Wal-Mart. So, when Cryptozoic Entertainment, who has Roleplayers Chronicle on their press list, asked if I would like to review one of their games, I totally leaped at the opportunity to try out Bravest Warriors: Co-operative Dice Game.

Before I go any further, let me state upfront that I’ve never seen, or heard of, the Bravest Warriors cartoon. The theme of the game is not what drew me in at first, it was the co-operative dice game design that caught my eye. The fun artwork and theme of Bravest Warriors is simply an added bonus.

One day I come home and there’s a brown box on my doorstep. I always get excited when this happens, and after opening the box, I quickly became overwhelmed with excitement (okay, that might be a slight exaggeration). I called my 5-year old daughter over (she’s my gaming girl) and asked her to help me out with testing out this new game to see if we like it. My daughter was ecstatic and super excited to play, although she had to wait until I came home from work the next day. To speed up our first time through playing, I decided to open the box and read through the rulebook that night while she was sleeping.

BravestWarriors_BEAUTYSHOT_R2Right away, I was floored by the quality of this game! Nowadays, our gaming cabinet is filled with hobby games (from hobby publishers instead of the big guys) and the kiddie games are in a very separate location. I always love the care and quality that hobby publishers put into their games, but Cryptozoic truly went and extra step and really made the components inside extra sturdy. Inside you get three stacks of cards: two stacks are small and consist of Portal and Event cards, one stack is standard and consists of Encounter cards. You get a collection of character cards that are all that thick, chunky cardboard that could probably survive a tornado. Then you get a bunch of hit point tokens that are made from that same thick, chunky cardboard, a couple other disks of the same cardboard, and 12 beautiful 6-sided dice. So simple, and yet the quality surpasses many I have seen (including the box and the artwork).

I popped out the cardboard pieces, which was much easier than I’ve seen in the past, and opened up the rulebook. Right away, I was happy to see that there were two levels of play: Easy and Standard. Being that my daughter is 5, we often have to modify clunky rules or remove cumbersome mechanics so that gameplay is smooth for her age. Well, I’m happy to state, on the record, that we were able to run the entire game four times in Easy mode WITHOUT any modifications. That right there is an awesome selling point for parents. And the rulebook? Well, it’s simple, easy to read, easy to understand, properly illustrated, and short and to the point! I was expecting to spend an hour understanding the game, and it probably took 10 minutes.

The next day, I get home from work and my daughter is chomping at the bit to play. I love her excitement, it only made me more excited. So we spread everything out on the kitchen table and I explained the rules to her a bit. Most of my teaching of the rules is done during gameplay; it’s just easier for a 5-year old that way. The first time we played, the game kicked our butts! This got me a little discouraged. We set the game aside for dinner, and took it back out afterward. This time, we paid better attention to the rules and how the Portal Cards worked. Second game, we kicked some butt! We totally won and we both had a blast doing it!

BW_GamePieces_R3The gameplay is extremely simple. You flip a mission and must roll the symbols and quantity of each to succeed at that mission. With Easy play, one Event card is flipped that has a positive or negative effect on the mission. After rolling the dice, players can play Portal Cards to change or reroll the dice in the hopes of fulfilling the mission or the Event card. If all else fails, each character has a Special Ability to tap into that may help you out. It doesn’t get much simpler than that (in Easy mode; Standard mode adds even more fun). My 5-year old picked up on everything very quickly and we’ve already played the game 4 times. We both love it and I can see this being one of our new staples.

Bravest Warriors: Co-operative Dice Game is rated for players 15+. I was a little concerned about this at first, but after reading through the rulebook and seeing the cards, I understood why. Some of the cards have maybe not-quite-appropriate artwork for young ones, but, more importantly, the game requires reading and comprehension at a higher level. However, if you have one person that can read the cards, your younger children can definitely play as the mechanics are so easy to understand!

As for the theme, I love how it’s integral to the mechanics using using the shapes on the dice. However, Cryptozoic could quite easily take these same underlying mechanics and make them integral to other themes and be just as successful. In fact, I would love to see other co-operative dice games using these same mechanics as they’d be perfect for my kids and me.

My kids and I play a lot of dice games (dice are fun for kids to roll and cards can be tricky to hold with small hands). However, Bravest Warriors is the first co-operative game we’ve ever played and it’s way more fun than playing against each other. The “team” celebrations are more fun and I love how everything is pooled together so that we help each other for the purpose of winning the game. But then, we’re far from competitive and we like to play games for the pure enjoyment it brings us.

For parents that don’t mind working with their kids to play a game, this is an awesome find. For gamers who love a little tongue-in-cheek humor and a quick dice game, this is also an awesome find. In Standard mode, you can even throw in some tactics, although I would consider this a very tactical game. It’s definitely a quick-play, have fun game. Of course, when I say quick-play, I mean 20-30 minutes and not 5-10. It’s also a great way to get your family around the table to enjoy some time together. Being easily scaled from 1-6 players, everyone can join in!

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