Come Play With E!- Fairytale Gloom Edition

If there is one thing that my daughter inherited from me is it the gift of storytelling, she is always asking me to tell her a story that I’ve made up, or entertaining me with one of her own.  Many of her stories are based on experiences in her life, from the everyday, to even the games that we play together.   After playing some of her favorite games, her creativity gets fired up, and she brings these worlds alive.  From writing her own fan fiction story about her favorite game, Too Many Bones, to pretending that she is escaping a dark dungeon like in One Deck Dungeon.  It’s amazing, as a Mom, for me to watch.  She is now learning to read and write on her own, and this has opened up a new world for her, this includes all new games that she could not play before.

Enter one of my all-time favorite games, Gloom.  I own a lot of versions of this game, I told you, it was one of my favorites, but I thought she might be most interested in Fairytale Gloom.  Fairytale Gloom is the brainchild of Keith Baker, published by Atlas Games, and illustrated by Jaume Fabregat.

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Unfortunately Gloom does not have a solo mode, so it was not coming to my table as often as I would have liked it to.  On a whim, I took it out the other day, and showed it to Emmy.  I could not have expected a better time.  From the moment I described the game to her, she was hooked, and she was ready to play.  I explained the objective and the rules.  Here, let me do that for you too.

I any version of Gloom that you play the objective is always the same, be the first person to make your family, or in this case characters, so unhappy that they succumb to the dark and, well, die.  I know, kind of bleak, and dark, right?  Many of you might be questioning my parenting skills right now, but cancel that call to DCF, it’s not that bad.  While the game does want you to off your people, getting them to the grave can be pretty challenging and hilarious.  Fairytale Gloom sets its sights on beloved fairytale characters, Rapuzel, Big Bad Wolf, and even the beloved Cinderella are not safe from these sad tales.

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Once you have chosen your victims, uh, I mean, characters, you are dealt a hand of five cards.  two story cards are dealt to the middle of the table, more on that later, and play begins.  Each player, on their turn can begin the game by weaving a backstory for their characters, a tale of misery, and woe.  On each turn players are allowed two actions.  You may play an event card, which has some immediate effect, these cards are one use and then discarded.  You may play a modifier on one of your characters or an opponents character.  These cards are the meat of the game, and will cause the characters to increase or decrease their self worth, effectively making them happier or more miserable.  Modifiers have titles on them, usually alliterations, such as Purloined Porridge, or Trapped in a Tower.  These titles or names are what will be weaved into the story that you are telling about your character.  If played on an opponent you will also be using the card to interject into their sad story, shining a little light into their miserable lives and making them happy.  These cards may also include an effect that may increase or decrease your hand size or make other alterations to your gameplay.

Once your character has a negative self worth, and only as your first action, you can also play an Unhappy Ending card.  This is pretty much what it sounds like, the last card for your character.  These cards are also used to finish up your story and might say something like, “Used up Nine Lives”, or “Died From Bad Blisters”. Additionally, you may discard your entire hand, drawing up to your current limit, or pass one or both of your actions.

When both actions have been used, the player draws back up to their current hand size and play moves to the next player.  Story cards, the ones placed in the center of the table at the start of the game, can be claimed by any player, by using an action, once their requirement is fulfilled.  But be careful, they can be stolen as well, only the player who controls the card at the end of the game will be granted their end game benefits.

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Once all of your characters, the game usually plays four or five per player, have expired the game ends.  Players add up the negative points on only their expired characters, the player with the most (or I guess least) points wins.  Fairytale Gloom plays a bit on the longer side, especially if you play with a group of gifted storytellers.  I have never played a game that did not leave me laughing and wanting more.

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But wait!  There’s more!  I haven’t even told you the coolest thing yet.  Gloom, and in this case Fairytale Gloom, was one of the first games that I ever played with transparent cards.  Modifiers are played right over your character card, stacking so that all pints can be clearly seen.  Once an Unhappy Ending has occurred another picture will cover your characters portrait, so one can clearly see that character is out of the game.

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As I mentioned there are a bunch of Gloom games.  The base game, which has a Gothic feel also spawned some expansions that are compatible with all other Gloom games.  You can pick up Unhappy Homes, Unwelcome Guests, Unfortunate Expeditions, Unpleasant Dreams, and even the Unquiet Dead.  All these expansions add on to the base games, and add a new level of complexity to the game.  As for genres there is a Cthulhu Gloom, Munchkin Gloom (based on the wildly popular Munchkin series), Gloom in Space, and most recently, funded through Kickstarter, Gloom of Thrones, based on, you guessed it, Game of Thrones.

I love this game so much.  There is nothing that I don’t love, other than trying to find gifted storytellers to play it with.  It engages all players for the entire game, listening to their stories, and planning your next wicked move.  The theme is a bit dark, but in a lighthearted way.  There are a lot of tongue in cheek moments, through the flavor text, inspiring more stories.  Emmy loved the storytelling and as I write this she is begging me to play more!  The stories unfold as the game plays and really keep you on your toes, always trying to weave in your cards into the narrative that you have already started.

I love this game, but enough about what I think, here is what Emmy herself has to say about it:

Emmy’s take:

“Fairytale Gloom is a very fun game.  I play it a lot with my mother and I just love it a lot because it has my favorite characters the princesses.  I get to play fun stories on them.  I love this game, I don’t like the killing people part, because I’m not really a killer person, but it’s really funny how you tell the stories.  That’s all for now, bye friends!”

Fairytale Gloom gets a solid:     img_54531.jpg

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… Save Hara Before It’s Too Late!

A review copy of Champions of Hara and Champions of Hara: Chaos on Hara were provided by Greenbrier Games.  We would like to thank Greenbrier Games for supporting our blog.  All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.

I have a confession to make.  I’m a sucker for really good game art.  As a matter of fact, it can either make or break a game for me, and one more than one occasion has been the deciding factor in whether or not I back a Kickstarter or not.  To me the art is an extension of the game, it needs to feel natural, as if the game were built around it and flows from it.  Corny, I know, but hey, we all have our things.

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Right from the start I was attracted to Champions of Hara for just this reason.  The artwork seems to just pop right off the box cover.  One of the artists that worked on Champions of Hara is Stephen Gibson, whom I never run short of good things to say (if you don’t believe me, check our my review of Grimslingers).  Champions of Hara, developed by Leaf Pile Media, is published by Greenbrier Games, designed by Walter Barber, Ian VanNest and Andrew Zimmerman, with beautiful artwork provided by the aforementioned Stephen Gibson, Hannah Kennedy, and Jason Piperberg.  Hara plays up to four players and can be played anywhere from half an hour to two hours depending on the number of players and which game mode you choose to play.

 

Champions of Hara can be played in a versus mode, a cooperative mode, or even through scenarios.  The scenarios is where this game truly shines for me as a solo player.  Each of the playable characters, there are six in the base game with an additional four added in the expansion, has their own unique deck of cards that plays different from all the others.  Getting to know each of the characters strengths, weaknesses, and play style has been a lot of fun for me.

A typical game plays through a series of steps.  The first step is the Dawn phase, where the player draws a card from the World Deck on each of the six worlds.  The card will be either an event or a monster.  Monsters are played face up, while events are played face down, each placed on the numbered space that corresponds to the current day.  From there each player may take their turn.  Players are allowed to take three actions, actions are usually spent on playing cards from either their hand or the board.  In a unique twist, cards that are played from your hand are then rotated 180 degrees and placed on the board.  This card now has a different effect that will be triggered when played from the board.  Cards that are played from the board are then rotated 180 degrees and returned to your hand, thereby changing that effect as well.  Cards go back and forth from the players hand to the board with the abilities constantly changing.  Playing the right cards at the right time are key to success in Champions of Hara.  After cards have been played all monsters within range of the player will attack, this ends the current players turn.  Once a player has taken their turn if there is a Corrupted (bad guy) on the board they will take their turn, if not the next player will go, continuing until all players have taken their turns.

The next step is the dusk phase.  Cards are drawn from the dusk deck equal to the number of players plus 1.  These cards are spawned via the roll of the dice.  One die will decide which world, the other which space it will occupy on that world.  Players will then take another turn, as outlined above.  Once all players and monsters have taken their turns a new day will begin.  A new day requires the players to draw from the World Shift deck.  This deck is aptly named as it will literally shift the board around causing the players to move the world tiles, switching them around, and causing great chaos.  Play continues on, following these steps, until the day determined by the scenario has been reached.  At that time a winner is declared, also outlined by the chosen scenario.

Gameplay is further enhanced by collecting items and colored mana from the defeated monsters.  Colored mana is tracked on the player board, when certain thresholds are reach the player levels up in that color and can add a new card of that type to their hand.  This offers more choices in the game.  Some of these cards add a lot of value to your hand, getting them early enough in the game can make a huge difference!  Event cards often add a way to get more mana as well.  Different items can be useful, or just okay, and can be pretty easy to come by.  Closing rifts that open on the board can also be a nice way to get useful items, regain health, or energy.

I have to admit that I have been playing Champions of Hara for quite a bit, wanting to make sure that I got the full flavor of the game before I told you all about it.  As a solo game I have had a great time.  My biggest complaint is that I want more.  Unfortunately the solo scenarios are limited to one for each of the characters.  That makes 6 solo scenarios in the base game.  I played them all, and loved each one.  The scenarios are as unique as the characters themselves, some are serious, such as saving one character from the clutches of a Corrupted.  Others are more silly, trying to throw a huge party on all the worlds before time runs out.  They all challenge their respective characters in different ways, and are tailored for each of them as well.  The scenarios are challenging, and offer replayability in that respect, but I want more.  I would love to see a supplemental booklet or PDF that offers more solo scenarios.

As a multiplayer game there are much more options.  There is almost endless gameplay, and many more scenarios to play through as well.  The storylines were interesting and ones that I enjoyed following.

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Let’s talk bit and pieces.  Champions of Hara is well done.  I have already gushed about the feast of the eyes, but there’s so much more than that.  The game includes miniatures of the characters and the Corrupted.  These minis are very well done and help to add to the overall effect of the game.  The player boards are sturdy, and I love the cutouts for the little counter cubes.  There are plenty of cardboard chits of varying sizes and abilities.  There are a ton of cards too.  Many are oddly shaped, which makes shuffling an adventure, but luckily shuffling is kept to a minimum.  The world tiles were very well done, and hold up well to the moving around cause by the World Shift Cards.

The expansion, Chaos on Hara, also adds more characters, Corrupted, and some interesting new cards to add to your decks.  The instruction booklet adds a nice Game Flow chart on the back too.  I’m hoping future printings of the base game will include this really handy tool as well.  I love how Chaos on Hara gives a subtle nod to Grimslingers with the inclusion of The Witch King as a character.  I’ll admit, I geeked out a bit over that.

Overall I think Champions of Hara is a great game.  There are plenty of unique bits to make this game really stand out for me.  I love the card system, and the choices that it causes you to make.  It can be mind breaking trying to decide when to place a card down and when to pick it up.  I love the deck building aspect that the leveling up adds to the game.  Moving the board all around via the World Shift Deck can be so frustrating, moving all across the world only to have the space you need move back where you just came from, ugh!!! Did I mention the art?  I loved checking out the new monsters as they entered the board for the first time.  All of the colors really pop on the game, and each monster is unique and fun.

I am really excited about what the future might hold for Champions of Hara, and can only hope that Greenbrier Games hears my pleas for more solo options.  C’mon guys, please???  Overall I recommend you give this game a try.  Although the solo scenarios might be my one complaint, but they do take some time to play through.  Multiplayer is definitely fun, and I can recommend that as well.  Give it a look, you might surprise yourself!

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly saved Hara before it was too late!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!