TableTopTakes: Bring Your Own Book

TableTopTakes: Bring Your Own Book

This is a different complexity of game than I normally review. Even when I talk about party style games, I normally don’t bring up the games that kind of play themselves. I’m talking about games like Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples. Bring Your Own Book falls into that category, but just barely into that category, because in Bring Your Own Book, you have more variety.

Like your standard party game, Bring Your Own Book runs off of the prompt and reply system. This is why I brought up games like Cards Against Humanity and Apples to Apples. Now, I actually like some prompt and reply style of games. I think that games like Stipulations and Beyond Balderdash (which I believe I can just call Balderdash now) are enjoyable because in these games you are coming up with your response, so it relies on your creativity, not just a hand of cards you’ve been given. Bring Your Own Book doesn’t do that, because, instead of using a card or writing something down, you are finding a line in a book to use, and that can be whatever book you brought to the table.

This is a strength and issue of the game. It’s a strength because it lends itself to variety. When we’ve played it, we’ve had books ranging from technical or non-fiction books to YA books. So you actually get more variety and you don’t see cards repeat like you do in something like Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples. But, at the same time you’re limited to whatever book you brought to the table or that was at the table when you got there. So if the book I have at the table is an epic fantasy novel, everything I read is going to sound like an epic fantasy, and if it’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, it’s going to sound like that. So as a player, you are still being limited in variety of what you can do, unless you have a book of short stories.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

But also with that, there’s another issue. You have a time limit to find your passage in the book, and this is very much needed, but that also cuts down on how much you can really search for a good sentence. If you had unlimited time, there would be people who would just start reading the book every time. I think that the title is very accurate of this game, though, to get around the problem of the time limit. You need to bring your own book, and you need to know it well. If I got the first Harry Potter book, I’m going to be able to comb that for certain passages and scenes better than I would The Expanse, for example. Because I’ve read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone several times and I haven’t read The Expanse. That’s going to be different for everyone, and while my wife and I have a good collection of books, we might not have books that someone else has read, so the game is going to be trickier for them. So, you might want to bring your own book, which means that this party game now needs to be planned to work at it’s best.

And I will say, that it’s definitely at it’s best, I think you can do it with random books. However, if you play with random books, I would suggest rotating books as you rotate the person giving the prompt. That way, everyone one gets the chance with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and everyone gets a chance with How to Win Friends and Influence People. This will make the game more fair, because, while How to Win Friends and Influence People might not be a dry book, it’s not as exciting as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and there is probably less familiarity with it around the table. Or, if you are doing random books, keep them all in the same family. Fantasy fiction would be a great one, you don’t even need to pick a type of fantasy, but that is going to keep everyone on even footing.

The actual game components, I think that the kickstarter version looks amazing, and that’s what I have. I, however, don’t really like the retail version all that well. As compared to the kickstarter, it looks cheaper and it loses the charm of looking so much like a book itself. Now the game doesn’t play different, it’s just an aesthetic thing. I think had I not gotten the kickstarter version of the game, I don’t know that the retail version would have even caught my eye.

Overall, this is another party game. If you like games like Cards Against Humanity and Apples to Apples, but you want a party game with unlimited variety, but still restricting, Bring Your Own Book works well, because where ever you play it, it will feel different. I’d pull it out again off my shelf, but probably not in a lot of situations. If I themed a board game night around books, it would probably be the warm up game before we split off into other smaller games.

Overall Grade: C
Gamer Grade: D
Casual Grade: B-

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