Wednesday, November 15, 2017

All Magic Comes With a Price (Once Upon a Time)

Once upon a time, 6 young adults played a card game.  But it was not just any card game, this was a game filled with danger, horror, and a girl who had no idea what she was doing.  In a land where anything could happen, a story was crafted.  True, no one would remember the story months later, and no one would want to hear it again, but it was a story they enjoyed making.  And all that came from 4 classic words:  Once Upon a Time.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Once Upon a Time is a storytelling card game published by Atlas Games for 2-6 players.  Players craft a story over a period of time using cards, attempting to "de-rail" the story in their favor.

SET-UP: Each player is dealt a hand of cards, the number depending on the number of players, and 1 Happy Ever After card.  All players determine who starts.

STORY:  Each player has a set of story-telling cards.  The first player starts telling a story.  Anytime something important to the story is said, the player may lay down that kind of card.  If, however, it's just a minor detail mentioned in a list, or a throwaway line, the player cannot play a matching card.  If a player wishes to no longer keep the story going, they may pass.  They then draw a card, and may discard one, and the story passes to the left.

INTERRUPT:  A player may interrupt and take control of the story in 2 ways.  If a player mentions something, and another player has a card that matches, they may play it immediately.  The second way is that some cards have Interrupt on them, which allow them to play them to interrupt a matching types of card (Place, Character, Item, Event, Aspect).  In both cases, the previous story-teller must draw a card, and the other player continues the story with that card.  Players may also lose the story to the player to the left if the player starts rambling or pauses too long.

WINNING:  Once a player has played all their cards, they may not add any new elements to the story, and they may close the story by revealing and reading their Happily Ever After to win.  If all players agree it does not match the story, that player must draw a new Happily Ever After card, and a new Story card, and the story passes to the left.

CONCLUSION:  Once Upon a Time is a pretty fun improvisational-style game.  This is a game that most people can play, and is a stronger game then something like Aye, Dark Overlord, being open enough for players to allow their creative juices flow, but structured enough to avoid giving players choice fatigue.  A pretty solid game for all ages, and enough for most to get a good experience out of it.

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