My Agricola league is winding down, and I have a bone to pick with the game. In my best game of the round so far I won 57-43-35-34. A big win, for sure, and my highest Agricola score to date. Naturally, it included the Braggart.
Braggart is one of those cards that wrecks games. In the game I linked I had 8 improvements out, and while one of them was pointless that only cost me a single action for 2 points. The rest were all fine on their own. At the end of the game the Braggart got me 7 points, and if you subtract the 2 points I lost by putting down additional improvements the Braggart is still worth 5. That is just too much, especially for a profession that I was able to slap down on the last turn of the game and that my opponents could not play around or predict.
I didn't even manage to maximize the Braggart, only because on the last turn of the game I wasn't able to get down my 9th improvement, the Herb Garden. It just isn't appropriate to have one card generate that many points just because I did the thing I wanted to do anyway: Build lots of stuff.
In this game the Braggart didn't really matter. If I hadn't had it I would have ended with a score of 53, still a full 10 points above the next person. Still, if it had been close it would have been crushing for people to watch me suddenly rocket to victory with a card you can't stop.
In my other game which is still ongoing (so no advice please), my opponent just dropped the Braggart for 7. They might even ratchet it up to the full 9 points. I was absolutely certain of victory before that happened, and now I am worried. I was ahead by 21, and now the number is 14. My opponent having a ton of wood to do a massive fence action means that 14 is not nearly big enough a cushion for my liking. I went from a crushing victory to counting which cards they could have that beat me. It just isn't right that I keep looking at games, analyzing who is winning, making plays to keep the people on my tail away from victory, all the while knowing that if somebody happens to have the Braggart all my calculations are out the window.
Even if I lose the game where my opponent dropped Braggart I am still guaranteed to advance this time. I have three wins in, including the one linked at the top, and also this one where I managed to hold onto a 38 - 35 - 34 - 31 victory. That game I feel like I just didn't play well, as my food plan didn't come together. I had to take 2, 2, and 3 food even though I played two food based professions. I am not sure what I should have done, but obviously it wasn't what I did. Nobody dropped the Braggart though, so my plans got me a reasonable close victory. (If you do have criticisms of my choices in the game, do let me know, I am curious.)
My final victory came in this 47 - 36 - 32 - 29 win. I played Stonecutter and then dropped all the stone things. One opponent played the Braggart for 9 points, but my lead was so big that I won anyway. Of course if they don't have the Braggart they probably finish at about 32 instead of 36, and if I have the Braggart I could easily get to 54. So them having the Braggart instead of me was likely worth me winning by 22 instead of me winning by 11.
I understand that a group of Agricola experts I know uses the rule that Braggart must be your first profession if you draft it. Once you have played another profession you can't Braggart. I like that idea because dropping it early means people can try to take improvements away from you and your early play doesn't help you get resources or compete for rooms and people. It is a massive tempo loss. Also people know how many points you will have and can make plays with that in mind. Still often worth it, based on your cards, but at least it doesn't completely upend games on the final turn.
The Braggart is such a mess. Sure, I beat it twice, but in both cases it was an absurd card and totally flipped the board when it landed. That is reasonable for a card you have to play early and which doesn't generate tempo, but ridiculous for something that lands at game end. Plus even if it didn't let the players who dropped it win, it still made the person dropping it come a clean second instead of fighting for 2nd/3rd/4th. I wish boiteajeux didn't include it in the set, no doubt about that.