Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A little game to take anywhere...

Last post I wrote briefly about the fact gamers like to categorise games. Over the next 5 posts I will review 5 games that fill subjective categories; the category titles are a little more descriptive of the context I think the games would suit. This is the first of the 5, a favourite game of mine:

A little game to take anywhere:

Published by Z-Man Games.
Designed by Satoshi Nakamura.

Fairy Tale is a short playing and quite simple card game.  Players draft cards into their hands over a series of 5 ‘pass and keep a card’ turns.  Once each player has drafted their hand of 5 cards, players simultaneously play a card, applying any card effects, then a second, with effects and a third.  The final two cards in a player’s hand are discarded.

The goal of the game is to end with the most points worth of cards face up. Simple. However, there is more than that to the game.  The card effects can cause players to turn cards face down, and allow them to turn them face up.  Most importantly is the fact that most cards are a part of a scoring network, cards feed off each other for points, some multiply their score by the number of cards of that type you have face up, others tie into different cards and score points if you also have x or y.

Cards can be used to force other players to turn cards face down, but the most important form of interaction in the game comes in the drafting phase - defensively taking cards that will score well for the player next to you is important.  Of course you also want to take the cards that will score you points.  This is the ‘horns of dilemma’ players must choose between, taking cards that benefit themselves, and taking cards that benefit others.

Once a player is familiar with the game and the card effects (something that doesn’t take more than a short game or two), games of Fairy Tale can be played from beginning to end in 15 minutes or less.  It’s not the deepest and richest tapestry of choice out there in the world of card games, but it is a fun little game, where choices directly impact what’s happening in the game, and is a highly enjoyable filler.  The small box, easy rules, and fun dynamic game-play make this the little game I take anywhere.

5 other games worth a mention for this category:

  • Ra: The Dice Game
  • Coloretto
  • Roll Through the Ages
  • Court of the Medici
  • R-Eco

If you have any little games to take anywhere feel free to post them in the comments below!

(edited to add publisher and designer)



  1. Fairy Tale is my #1 for this category too. Always loved that one.

    Coloretto fits the bill well. Roll Through the Ages, while a great game, feels to heavy & large for this category, but maybe I am thinking too small due to Fairy Tale & Coloretto.

    I'd add Innovation for my list, along with Slapshot, and hmmm...tough choice...maybe I'll cheat a little.

    I have a PDF (although the book isn't very big either, very short rules.) of a story telling RPG type game called Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. Although you do need a pencil & paper for characters, and you actually write out the story. Maybe Happy Birthday Robot by the same author works better. You just need dice, a pencil, and paper. It's still writing it out, but no individual characters.

    You might actually want to check these games out as a teacher Giles. Happy Birthday Robot works extremely well with younger kids (I think you teach 2nd grade? Or I got that in my head somewhere...). Both games are very much creative writing with game rules tacked on...

  2. A current favourite of mine in this category is Dobble (aka Spot It!). Little game, plays fast, works with many people.

  3. Yeah - Roll Through the Ages almost fell off - but mainly due to the need for a pencil and eraser. I was tossing up whether Animalia (Game Sarl), might fit the list instead.

    Wow - I'll definitely check out Happy Birthday Robot! I've tried variations of Baron Munchausen before and that's always been interesting!


    Dobble looks a lot like Chaos in the Kids room, by HABA - though it has more symbols per tile. It's a great little game - the kids always find it a challenge!

  4. Heh - was going to point out the heftiness of Roll Through the Ages, but Yollege got their first. No doubt due to timezone privelege.

    There is, however, a reasonable iOS version of same, that can be played tolerably well as Pass and Play. It is a bit rough around the edges, but it is good when caught short.

  5. Oh - and I missed the comment on Innovation! I've only played it once, but for it would fit into the category of 'big game, small box' - when I was thinking of games that could under the banner of 'Little game to take anywhere' I was thinking of easy playing lighter style games (hence my additional five).

    It's (Innovation) a good game. I have to admit, when I played it I kept falling asleep (it was very late). Happily it was one of the best game experiences though - as despite having to be woken every time to take my turn, I woke up at the end and everything just made sense to me - I played a card or two and won the game. For the game owner (a good mate of mine), it was no doubt not as splendid an occasion!


    By heftiness, I assume we're talking about box weight? Otherwise it's not a bad little dice game (though I prefer Ra: The Dice Game).

    Others that could have made this list:

    Lords of Scotland
    No Thanks!

    Some great comments and games added! Thanks!!



  6. I am a big fan of the two player Mah Jong, card game, Tien Zi Que. I think it fits the bill perfectly.

    And how about the evergreen Circus Flohcati? It's still hugely popular, with the pikelets, in Gormenghast.

    Others I am fond of:
    Space Beans