Continuing on from my last post - I’ve played four new games this week. Here are some quick thoughts on them.

###Tales of the Arabian Nights

In this game, you run around the old world on quests and getting into trouble. The main mechanic involves grabbing paragraphs that are mini-stories and making a quick decision about how you act. For example, you could be caught in a horrible storm and decide to either tough it out, hide, etc.

It’s an interesting premise and the wealth of content (1000+ stories) were impressive but ultimately the game wasn’t very engaging / fun. Everything felt extremely arbitrary and there was no sense of agency; I wouldn’t play again. I wonder if there’s a good way to repurpose the thick book of content created for the game?

###Betrayal at House on the Hill In this game, the players run around a haunted house and random (mostly bad) things happen. Halfway through, one player is selected to be the traitor and the rest are the heroes. Both sides get secret objectives / abilities and the second half of the game has the two sides running around the house, fighting each other, and racing to complete the objectives.

The first part of the game was underwhelming; each turn consisted of entering a random room and having a random event happen - again, no agency, no fun. Once the second part began, thing got a bit more interesting. There was now a bit of tactics and strategy, plus the fun of ganging up another player.

While the second half was better, the game still wasn’t great. Despite some light strategy, there still wasn’t too much in the way of freedom; i.e. there was usually a clear dominant strategy with little room for creativity. I might play the game once more but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it.

###Once Upon a Time This game was far and away the best of this week.

Each player gets a hand of cards that contain people, events, places, and aspects (e.g. a prince, a fight, a swamp, ugly) as well as a happily ever after card (e.g. ‘and so the family was reunited’). One player starts making up a story and plays cards from their hand when they’re mentioned. If they mention something that matches another player’s card, that player can play the card and take over the story. The winner is the first to play all their cards and bring the story to their ending.

This game was a blast! We had a lot of fun coming up with absurd stories and got very good at asking leading questions of the storyteller to make them mention a card we had (e.g. ‘So those rich children, were they princes?’ ‘Uhh… sure’ ‘BAM, prince card’). The game felt like structured improv and we didn’t play to win as much as have a great time telling a ridiculous story.

I’ve already ordered the game off of Amazon and I’m excited to play it again soon.