The Barmaid’s Tale was first played in the Ratcatcher’s Rest, one of Tinderbox’s more colourful establishments, and is known to the locals as “Pass the Buck”
It is a simple 10-minute social strategy game for 4-6 players. Pass the Buck only takes a minute to set up and explain. It is fun and fast with plenty of banter making it a perfect ice-breaker or quick filler game.
- To start The Barmaid’s Tale, deal a Character Card to each player face up in front of them so all players can see it.
- Place the Blame Counters face up in a stack where they can be reached easily but are not in the way. This is called the Blame Deck.
- Each player starts with a set of 5 coins called their Stash, which should be hidden from other players
- Place a Blame Counter with the Jackalope on it in front of the starting player
Aim of the Game
In Pass the Buck the game ends as soon as one player accumulates three Blame Counters. The other players then add up the points value of all the coins in their Stash. The player with the most points is declared the winner.
How coins are scored:
Coin Points Known as
Rabbit 1 Penny, Bunny, Bit or Jack
Pheasant 2 Sixpence, Squab, Hen or Bird
Goat 3 Groat, Shilling, Ram, Mark (12 Pennies)
Boar 4 Hog, Sixling, Cream, Sow (6 Shillings)
Buck 5 Stag, Crown, Hart, Moon (30 Shillings)
For ease of reference the points value of each coin is represented by the amount of keys on the back.
The last player to buy a drink at a bar goes first. The starting player draws a Counter from the Blame Deck and places The Jackalope on it, they will be the first to Pass the Blame.
They then describe a disastrous quest that all the players recently returned from, eventually coming to the part where it all went wrong. Explaining how the actions of another player was the cause of the calamity they then pass the Blame Counter to that player, with the coin on top.
The player who has been blamed has two choices.
- Accept the Blame or
- Pass the Blame
Accepting the Blame
If you accept that the quest failed because of something you were just accused of, simply take the coin into your Stash and place the Blame Counter in front of you visible to all players. You become the starting player, grab a new Blame Counter and place on it any coin from your Stash.
Passing the Blame
Sure you did that thing, but someone else did something worse. Take the coin on the Blame Counter into your Stash and replace it with a coin with a higher value. Then tell someone else why it was their fault, and Pass the Blame
Once per game, players may activate their character ability when the blame is passed to them. Follow the instructions on the character card. Turn over their card to indicate the ability has been used.
Blame Counter Abilities (optional) A player may choose to flip over any Blame Counter they have previously accepted when the blame is passed to them. They must follow the instructions on the back if they can.
Players may never look at the back of any Blame Counters until they choose to activate one.
Once a player has three Blame Counters the game ends immediately. That player cannot win as they always let the team down. All other players reveal their Stash.
Winning the Game
The winner of the game is the player who has the highest combined points value in coins. If there is a tie, then the player with the most coins wins.
Boring Rules : You can play this game without any stories and simply pass the coasters around trying to win, but a good story lets people laugh, and some reasons to blame people can be ridiculous.
remember it’s never your fault!
As someone that had bartender for over 12 years, The Barmaid’s Tale struck a special cord with me. The number of times I have heard people who have “drunken responsibility” told me stories; then only blamed their friends who then added to the story and blamed someone else it. It was amazing how real this game is.
I have played a game a little similar to The Barmaid’s Tale, but it needed a lot of work. It had no real ceiling and it could literally just keep going around in a circle for 20 mins and nothing would force or stop anyone from passing it forever; The Barmaid’s Tale doesn’t have that. The rules are well thought out, clever and force players to play smart, think more and tell some epic stories.
Like a Damsel’s Tale, this game feels like an old-school game. It doesn’t over complicate itself or tries to do too much. It focuses on challenging the players and enjoyable gameplay. Also, like Damsel’s Tale, I played this game with my English friend and another couple of friends; who we were, funnily enough, going to head to a pub with.
We quickly learned the rules and the storytelling began. OMG, we are brutal to one another; the stories ranged from ridiculously outlandish tales; to true stories with a little bit each tacked on. I recommend not playing this with friends that knew you from another country; and who you two may have got into some mischief with a late-night bus, a rugby team and a several poles. That is my only recommendation.
Seriously, The Barmaid’s Tale is all about great friends and great storytelling that is cleverly packaged into a smart little system that allows games to be quick and precise. It also allows you to stop or continue a story if it is getting too honest.
It is the simple elegance of this game that makes my friends and I enjoy it so much. I love that there is a structure but also a level of whimsy in this game. That being said, the players really do make or break this game. The right level of involvement, this game is amazing; wild stories laughs and fun for all. With players that aren’t able or willing to get involved, it is still good but greatly less fun.
One other thing I forgot to mention in my previous review; is that all 3 games have these 10 or so page stories at the end of the rule book. I highly recommend reading these. It paints a lovely picture and backstory for the game you are about to play. I’m actually disappointed we didn’t read that after the rules, before when we were playing. I saw the story but skipped it so we could start the playing, that is one thing I would change.
The Barmaid’s Tale is an elegant storytelling game that wants you to make fun of your friends, up the ante but manage your bank. Managing your bank is the toughest part, as when you are being made fun or blamed for stuff, your emotions take hold and you up the ante without thinking. Dam you ego and emotions!