Adventure with Brandon the Brave

Conrad the Confused

This post was written by guest contributor Chrissy Wissler.

Part 3 in a series on how HABA games support learning. Read about the power of learning through play and how Animal Upon Animal supports critical thinking.


Match symbols and prove yourself brave!

Do you have a son or daughter who pretends they’re a knight on some grand adventure to defeat a dragon? Maybe save a princess? Or maybe they’re the princess looking to save the knight who’s off on some silly adventure (like fighting a fire-breathing dragon with nothing but a sword)?

The board game Brandon the Brave, taps right into this childhood fantasy and gives kids the chance to be the most renowned knight in all the land. But in order to be a great knight, you first need to train up and complete a series of knight-worthy quests.

How to Play

In Brandon the Brave, quests are depicted as tokens, which are handed out at the beginning of the game. One side is a picture of the type of quest itself (a tied up bandit) while on the other side is a map with two different colored ‘X’ marks (think ‘X marks the spot’).

Brandon the Brave is what’s called a tile-placing game. You’ll be drawing different tiles from the stack and placing those on a growing board where your knights will have their adventures. These tiles have different images, such as rolling grass lands, banners for jousting tournaments, and even a lost horse who belongs to Conrad the Confused (if you pull a tile with this horse, you pull another tile and go again).

What really matters, however, are those tiles that picture half of the colored ‘X marks the spot.’ If you complete one of those X pictures, you get to place one of your quests down—so long as the colored ‘X’ of the quest token matches the same color on the board.

Two green Xs on the main board. Three tiles that each picture a green X and an X of another color
Place a green quest on the matching Xs!

Each round, players take turns placing these tiles—following the rules how and where each tile can be placed—as they complete their quests as quickly as possible. The first player to do this, wins the game.

What’s Great about Brandon the Brave?

First off, the game is quick. I’d say about ten minutes, or fifteen if you have kids learning the game for the first time.

This short length is important when it comes to holding a child’s attention, especially when they’ve agreed to sit down and follow the pretend rules of the game (being taught to them by adults). This actually goes back to research regarding children and play: the importance of rules and the willingness of everyone to agree and abide by these rules.

Learning the Rules

Think back to made-up games from your childhood. If no one likes the rules of the game, no one will play with you (as we mentioned in part 1 of this series). Thinking more broadly on the importance of rules… our entire society is made up of rules. We have rules at school, rules for going to a restaurant (shoes, for example, are required), and even just social rules of how we behave and treat each other. By learning simple rules found in a game like Brandon the Brave, you’re supporting your child for how they participate in the world—and you’re doing it in a way that’s actually fun for them.

Because board games should be fun.

HABA clearly understand this.

Kids may need guidance as they learn the rules of where each tile can go, but even these rules aren’t complex. By the end of the game, through the constant practice of placing down tiles, there’s a good chance kids will need less help from you, the parent.

Time to Play

Not only are the rules in Brandon the Brave simple, clear, and easy to understand (pull a tile, place the tile, complete a quest if you can), but as I mentioned earlier, this is also a quick game.

If you have a reluctant gamer, they’ll be more willing to stick with the game if the it’s got a quick pace to it—and if it’s over fairly quickly. In fact, I saw this with Kate the first time we played. Brandon the Brave was the third game in a row and she was ready for a break, but because the game moved so quickly (just ten minutes), she was willing to stay and see it through. By the end she wanted to play the game again… just not right at that moment.

A girl staring down at a gameboard. Her hand is blurry, placing a piece down on the table.
Look at that concentration!

Strategy

In a game like Brandon the Brave, kids also get the chance to practice strategy, to stretch their brain muscles as they decide which quest they want to complete first. Remember each quest token has two different colored X marks on the back – and they get to decide which one to place. What if they end up with many blue X pieces and nothing else? That means they’ll be limited in what they can place on their turn.

That’s the kind of learning and understanding kids will carry with them from game-to-game. They’ll learn from mistakes made in previous games and naturally, on their own, begin to learn and develop the best strategy to win.

(Because what kid doesn’t want to win?)

And this leads into the social and emotional learning that happens naturally in games. You can’t win every game. You might get unlucky on your tile draws and don’t get to complete your quests as fast as other players. These are all great moments to sit with our kids and help them through these big emotions (because no one wants to lose or feel like they’re in last place).

The game components are also perfect for kids. Nice, chunky, thick tiles—which means they’re not easily bent, broken or snapped. And Conrad the Confused is a nice wooden piece with a funny looking knight scratching his head and looking, well… confused!

Conrad the Confused figure

Who can play Brandon the Brave?

Honestly, every kid is different and even though the game is recommended for five-year-olds on up, I’ll bet some three or four year-olds could play this game (with a parent beside them helping out). And of course there are also five-year-olds who won’t be ready for this game (I have one of those).

Brandon the Brave was also nominated for the Kinderspiel des Jahres in 2014, which is the big German board game award for kids games.

If you have a child who loves all things knights and dragons, definitely give Brandon the Brave a try and see what kind of learning sparks from it.


Chrissy Wissler is a professional writer of fiction, parenting blogs and raising differently-wired kids, and also—a gamer. She runs the Homeschool Board Game Club in Torrance, California, sharing her love of games and supporting kids with the community. If you’d like to learn more, check out: facebook.com/chrissykidsboardgames and ChrissyWissler.com.

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