Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Friday 19 July 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Barpig

Game: Barpig

Publisher: Self-Published

Designer: Jonathan L Franklin, Phillip Melchers

Year: 2017

If you've visited the UK Games Expo or Essen, then it would be difficult not to have noticed Barpig. For at least two years now we've noticed their stand at UKGE, since it's made up to look like a fantasy themed bar and all of the stall staff are dressed up as bar wenches, or similar, no matter what the gender of the person working the stall. Barpig is the work of Johno & Phil, who have turned their original idea of BaRPG - an RPG that you play with your friends in a bar - into a take-that card game full of pigs, puns and a dose of queer flare!

If, after reading our review, you find yourself excited to discover the world of pub-dwelling swines and to play a raucous take-that game with friends, then you can still get hold of the game and it's recently Kickstarted expansion, direct from the publisher with (hopefully) Essen 2019 pick-up.


At the start of a game of Barpig each player is handed a character card, a level/sobriety card and a drinks tab card. These three cards are placed on top of each other so as to show your current level (starting at 1), tab value (starting at 10) and sobriety (starting at full). The first round will then begin with everyone rolling the die to see who can get the highest result. Whoever rolled highest will win the round and gain a level.

After gaining a level that player must read aloud the challenge on their character card (typically) all players will have to compete on the challenge, with a penalty going to the player who fails. For example you might be told a structure you have to attack using an item of your choice form the room you are in. The loser being the person who can least explain their, typically bizarre, choice. Failure often comes at the cost of drinks and sobriety, losing sobriety is the kicker here, if your sober track runs out then you will be kicked from the bar and have to start off at level 1.

After finishing the challenge players will each get a chance to either buy an item card from the item deck, or to recharge their tab. To buy an item you simply draw the top card of the deck and pay a number of drinks off your tab to pay for it. Recharging is the same except you gain drinks on your tab, and don't get to keep the item. Item can be used in a variety of ways, with powers such as changing the person who takes a penalty or fixing the dice to roll the number you want. The game ends when one player wins enough rounds to reach level 5.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

To look at Barpig from a mechanical aspect is to be sorely underwhelmed. The main "gameplay" of the game is to roll a D6 and hope you roll higher than everyone else. A mechanic that can be expected from a game such as snakes and ladders or Ludo is not something I'm used to reviewing. Too often will people roll the same number and have to re-roll, slowing the game down during a phase that isn't much fun. Why they didn't go with a D20 to reduce odds and mix well with the RPG theme I don't know. But that isn't where the bulk of the game actually lies. More depths comes from the take-that elements of the item cards you'll be playing on each other. For a group in the right mood you'll be raising your voices in surprise when a particularly nasty card gets played, and then jeering as it gets reflected back onto a different target.

However to judge Barpig mechanically is, frankly, a little unfair. The game isn't about who wins the roll offs, it's about the challenges! With each porcine character having a different challenge to force onto your friends. This is where the game truly can be judged, and here it is hit and miss. It's wholly group dependent. For the right people (and perhaps with a  bit of wine flowing) these challenges can be great fun. In my experience, and to my great surprise, they have been more hit than miss, but some have actually made me a little uncomfortable. Despite what you may expect most of Barpig's challenges do manage to bring a smile to people's faces! Some are more fun than others, but fortunately cards which force you to change character are plentiful, so you shouldn't have to repeat the same challenge more than a couple of times.

I have to mention the absolute love that has been poured into the artwork for the cards. If you had told me 6 months ago that a game about drunken pigs would have some of the best card art I've seen in a while I may have laughed in your face. There's tons of work done here to ensure that last night's half-eaten kebab looks sufficiently unappetizing, and the piggy characters all have so much, well, character! Ultimately you have to know what you are getting into with Barpig, for the right group it's loud, hooting and cheering fun. For the wrong group, it's socially awkward and uncomfortable. Though it has surprised me that I've enjoyed it as much as I have, I still feel the hit and miss nature drags it down for me. But if you are looking for a party game to play in the pub, and don't mind getting a few odd looks, then Barpig may be for you!

Fi’s Final Thoughts

Barpig is certainly not a game we'd typically gravitate towards - it pushes a little too far to the silly and extroverted than the games we like to play. With some of the actions that the cards ask you to do, such as having a dance-off or making animal noises, this is certainly a game that we've had to confine to our own home and for playing with close friends. The alternative is getting very drunk, and at that point I could almost see you playing the game in a bar, if you could be bothered to keep track of your points and statistics.

I love a lot of the charm that Barpig captures. All of the characters tell a story, and we're led to believe that there is significant drama and backstory in their world. The puns in their names, the character art and even the innovative way that cards are used to create a character sheet with the ability to track your stats is all very endearing.

Aside from my personal tastes as a bit of an introvert, with little to no improvisation ability or creativity, where Barpig really falls down is as a meaningful game. The way you win the game is to be the first to roll highest on a D6 5 times, without other players throwing in cards to stop you. The card play can be fun in a Fluxx or Munchkin style, but eventually your cards will run low and the person who is most lucky will win. The fun in Barpig is if you enjoy the mini-games, and admittedly I have enjoyed a few of them - especially those from the After Hours expansion which seem to be more about creativity or memory than simply playing the fool. If you want a fun and creative party game for your outgoing group, then Barpig might be a great fit for you.

You Might Like...
  • The theme and the artwork are full of character and humour.
  • Barpig really brings together two worlds with the geekyness of RPG character sheets and the party game style of the mini games.
You Might Not Like...
  • A lot of the fun in Barpig is only fun if you're comfortable with being silly around your gaming group.
  • Winning the game is all about rolling a dice well.
The Verdict
5/10 With so many party games around these days Barpig really does stand out as something different. Unfortunately different isn't always better, if you have a introverted group you probably will want to give this one a miss.

Barpig, and a prototype of the After Hours expansion was a review copy kindly provided to us by the game's creators.

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