Tabletop Review: ‘Brandon the Brave’ From HABA

Reading Time: 4 minutes
'Brandon the Brave' from HABA.
‘Brandon the Brave’ from HABA. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

HABA is one of those toy and game brands that you know you can trust to create quality products. I am frequently on the lookout for fun games that our boys A and W can play together. The challenge for me is their ages: A is eight and can happily handle games like Ticket to Ride. W is five and really wants to play with his brother, but is limited by the fact he’s not quite a reader yet. Luckily, HABA has some offerings that can work for both boys. I recently received a copy of Brandon the Brave from HABA in exchange for a review.

What Is Brandon the Brave?

Brandon the Brave is a basic tile placing game for 2-4 players from ages 5-99 that takes about 10 minutes to play. Players act as knights setting down tiles to create battle sites where they complete tasks to try to become the knight champion.

Brandon the Brave Components

'Brandon the Brave' components.
‘Brandon the Brave’ components. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Brandon the Brave contains the following:

  • 1 Instruction Book in several languages
  • 35 Field Tiles
  • 1 Conrad the Confused Knight Figure
  • 18 Task Cards

The pieces are all great quality with the Field Tiles and Task Cards being made of thick cardboard. Conrad the Confused Knight is actually made of wood, so these pieces are going to have stronger durability with the younger crowd that can be harder on game pieces.

How to Play Brandon the Brave

Goal

The goal of Brandon the Brave is to complete all of your tasks (represented by Task Cards) first or to have the lowest number of uncompleted tasks when the Field Tiles run out.

Setup

A game for 2 players set up.
A game for 2 players set up. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Game setup is extremely easy. The first time you play, the Field Tiles and Task Cards need to be punched out of their cardboard sheets, but my boys handled that on their own easily. With the cards punched out, the Field Tile with a castle should be located and placed in the middle of the playing area. The rest of the Field Tiles go face down in three pile. Next, each player gets a selection of Task Cards (6 for a 2 player game, 5 for a 3 player game, and 4 for a 4 player game). Leftover Task Cards should be returned to the box. Conrad the Confused gets set next to the Field Tiles and the game is ready to begin.

How to Play

The basic game mechanic is delightfully simple. Moving clockwise, each player’s turn is made up of two parts:

  1. Placing a Field Tile
  2. Carry out actions if relevant

Placing a Field Tile

Tiles with joust pieces on the corners can combine for a tournament site. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

At the beginning of a turn, a player takes a Field Tile from the top of one of the piles and places it next to a Field Tile already in play. The pictures on the tiles must match up. Grass can touch grass, sections with crosses can join together but the cross color must match, and the pieces with jousting tents can join together at the corners. If you cannot make a match, put the Field Tile at the bottom of one pile and take another.

Carrying Out Actions

This player is going to be able to complete a blue cross task. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

If you complete a square with two crosses on your turn, you can complete a task! Match the cross color to one of the crosses on the back of your Task Card and then place that Task Card on the square made by the Field Cards. If you complete a jousting tournament set up, you can pick any of your Task Cards to place in the tournament circle.

Conrad the Confused

This player is not just about to complete a green cross task, but will get an extra turn for placing a tile next to Conrad
This player is not just about to complete a green cross task, but will get an extra turn for placing a tile next to Conrad. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

When Conrad’s horse (he’s in purple and white) turns up, the Conrad the Confused figure moves to that tile. If you place a tile next to a tile where Conrad is, you get an extra turn (only 1 extra turn per round though). Whenever another tile with this horse turns up, Conrad is moved to that tile.

Game End

The game ends when one player completes all their tasks and becomes the winner or when the Field Tiles run out. If the Field Tiles run out, the player with the fewest task cards left wins. If there is a tie, the tied players all win.

Why You Should Play Brandon the Brave

Brandon the Brave is a fun, quick game that lets kids with limited reading skills play with kids who are older than they are. I love that the set up is so simple, the pieces durable, and the clean up is super fast. The quick mechanic of the game makes it easy for younger kids to catch on to and understand what they are doing. I feel like the tile placing mechanic is a nice bridge to more complicated tile placing games that kids will eventually age up into. There’s just enough strategy and decision making to interest players in the reading age range (like getting an extra turn by placing a tile next to Conrad), but not so much as to overwhelm the younger players. Since players don’t know what tile they will get, there’s enough luck aspect to help even things out a touch too. The quick gameplay will let kids get in several games in a row within a half an hour, which is really nice, and ups the odds of kids replaying it. A says, “it’s fun and challenging and you never know what Field Tile you’ll get or task you’ll complete.” W says, “I liked finishing some jousts, also I liked getting better at the game, and I also liked it because I had less cards in my second game.”

HABA lists the MSRP as $14.99, which I find perfectly reasonable for gifting to other kids as well as acquiring for your own. If you don’t want to buy directly from HABA or another online source, the HABA site will even let you look up who the authorized HABA product dealers are local to you.

Have you played Brandon the Brave? Do you have any favorite HABA games? Let us know in the comments.

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