Designed by Ivan Nevill and Alex Wynnter, the Barmaid's Tale is simple but fun filler-length 'pass the buck' storytelling party game set in publisher Red Genie's Tinderbox universe. The premise is that (4–6) players are a party of failed adventurers drowning their sorrows in the tavern after another dismally unsuccessful adventure.
The game itself involves players placing a coin on a beermat (blame token) and passing it to another player signifying that that player was the cause of the party's failure. The player to whom the buck is passed can pass it on to another player but, to do so, they must place a higher value coin on the beermat. This continues until someone accepts the blame, in which case they take all the money on the beermat. The game ends when a player accumulates three beermats. That player loses, regardless of how much money they have; the winner is the player who has the most money when the end-game condition is reached. The beermats may have special effects on the reverse side, which a player can take a chance in activating, and players each represent a specific character with a backstory and a single-use special ability.
You need to weigh up when it's best to accept the blame and pocket the cash and when you need to spend to keep yourself in contention for the win. And, you'll notice from the foaming-beer player shields in the 360º Board's Eye View photo, that each player's stash of cash is kept concealed from other players' view. Can you be sure you've still got more cash than your rivals?
What turns this simple push-your-luck exercise into a fun filler is the storytelling element. Players are encouraged to embellish each passing of the buck with an account of the party's adventure and how their compatriot cocked things up and caused their quest to fail. As in most storytelling games, the more you put into this game the more you get out of it. The game is at its best when players concoct elaborate and amusing tall tales, each designed to top those told before. That means The Barmaid's Tale is also at its best as pub game where you and your friends really are quaffing some ale as you play.
Shown here on Board's Eye View is a preview prototype of The Barmaid's Tale ahead of its anticipated 2020 Kickstarter launch. It's already a well-designed package, outwardly disguised as an antique book with a magnetic lid, reminiscent of the type used by Facade Games in Salem 1692 and Tortuga 1667. Art is by Laura Diez and Jonathon Munro.