Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Not So Storybook Ending. A Scary Tales Review

Scary Tales
  • Designed by Reiner Knizia
  • Published by Playroom Entertainment
  • Each set allows for 2 players to play, and there are currently 3 sets.
  • Plays in roughly 30 minutes. Some games are faster, some slower.
The Characters and Fairies I have
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Snow White and Red Riding Hood had a contest in fairy tale artifact collecting? What about Pinocchio and the Giant?  Well, this won't exactly answer the question, but it gives you an idea.
Scary Tales is designed to be a simple two player game with hand management and relic collection.  There's a lot of luck in the cards that you draw, but there is also strategy in when you should play your cards, and when you shouldn't.  

Scary Tales doesn't have much in the way of components. It simply has 3 dice per character, one die per fairy, and a bunch of cards.  The cards are high quality, the dice, while plastic, don't feel cheep and seem to be well balanced.  It's a minimalist production, but there are no unnecessary bits, so high marks for quality in what's in the box. The rules are not intuitive, and are poorly written, simply jumping from point to point with no real explanation of how the game plays out. Still, a solid 6.5/10.

Game Mechanics
Various Pre-Roll Cards
Gameplay isn't that complicated. You start with one of the fairy tale characters, a relic, and 5 power cards.  You choose an opponent's relic to "attack" then play preroll cards from your hand to add to your dice, then you roll your dice. If you roll the symbols on the relic, you take it, adding to your stack, and if you don't, you get your cards back. In a two player game, you can make another attack.  Then you can play any post roll cards, and finally you draw a card from each deck.  The power deck has all those pre and post roll cards, while the fortune deck has some events, a few companions, and a lot of relics. You carry out any events as you reveal them, add any companions to your play area, and then stop when you get a relic, adding that to your pile.  The first player to start their turn with 7 points worth of relics wins. Incidentally, I just taught you almost everything you need to know in order to play the game.  The mechanics are simple, but are just right for the game.  They get a 7/10.

Various Relics. Some of the lower
points are harder to take, while high
point cards are more easily stolen.
While there is interaction in taking your opponent's relics, there isn't anything they can do to stop you.  There's almost no interaction here, so it gets a 2/10.

The fairy tale theme is well incorporated.  The cards with pre roll symbols are your classic creatures, such as ogres, elves, dragons, etc.  The relics are all related to one of the fairy tales involved, such as the map to grandmother's house, the golden egg, and many others. There could be a stronger tie-in between the theme and the way the game plays, but still it's an excellent 9/10.

Learning Curve
I would think by the fact that I explained the mechanics previously that the learning curve would be obvious, but in case it wasn't, it's short.  This is a classic filler game, and is easily learned.

Some of the other
Fortune Deck Cards
Why I Like Scary Tales
The game is simple.  I like playing it in-between longer games, or while eating dinner.  It works well for the entire gaming family, and the four of us have a good time.  I don't even care if I win or lose, it's just fun to play.

Why I Don't Like Scary Tales
It's overly random.  If you get low point relics, or boosts that don't help you, it's hard to win.  There's too much luck with dice rolling and card drawing.  

Most days when we play it, we play 2 or 3 games of Scary Tales, and we've played 10 times so far, so it looks good.  Eventually it will fade out, but it's still a reasonable game to play over and over for the low price.  It could easily become something I play a couple of times on a single game day once every month or two, and stay that way for a year or more.

Various Post-Roll Cards
Will You Like Scary Tales?
If you're looking for a fairy tale game, this is the best one I've played.  I think it could be fun to play with children once they're a little older, starting in the 9-12 range (the box says 13, which is probably for some of the character artwork)  If you're looking for a game with a fair amount of luck and randomness, then this is for you.  There isn't a lot of strategy, but I've enjoyed it so far.

I picked up Scary Tales in a BGG auction on a whim.  It seemed like a fun little game, and for the low price, it was worth it.  The odd thing is that I rarely bother to remember the price of a game after I buy it, since at that point I just try to enjoy it for what it is.  I've tried the 2 player game, and it's not very good.  It's a bit mean just attacking the same person over and over.  It's worked wonderfully with 3 or 4 since you can balance to try to stop someone from winning. What it does mean is that you can be attacked many times in a round, but that happens rarely.  Additional players also give you the ability to target a relic which you can actually win based on your cards, and not just get stuck on one you can't touch.

Overall, I give Scary Tales a 7/10 which means that it is a game that I like to play, will continue playing, but it has several flaws that make me not want to play it often.

Want to buy Scary Tales or an expansion and support BoBG?

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