Fairy Tile (Brandon Kempf)
Designed by Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert
Artwork by Miguel Coimbra
Published by Iello Games (2018)
I was provided with a copy of Fairy Tile by the publisher, Iello Games, for review purposes.
Do not lose hope - what you seek will be found. - Neil Gaiman
Who wants to go on an adventure filled with storytelling and exploring? In Fairy Tile you are in charge of helping the daring Princess, the devoted Knight and the dreadful Dragon in exploring the lands looking for adventure and hopefully to fulfill their destinies.
Fairy Tile is a tile placement, storytelling game for 2-4 players set in a fantasy land. In the game you are moving the characters around the land in order to fulfill their stories. Everyone is going to have the same amount of cards dealt to them at the beginning of the game. When you get your cards, you place them face down in front of you and you will pull the top one from the stack and look at it. This is the first page of your story, it directs you where you want a character, or characters, to be on the map that is being built as the game progresses. The starting map tiles are placed on the table in between the players and the correct figures are placed on their respective starting spots. To start with the lay of the land will consist of only 3 tiles, but this will grow as the game progresses and players draw tiles to place from the draw pile.
A player’s turn is relatively simple, you can do one of two things, you can Develop Your Story, or you can Turn a Page.
Developing a story is a two step process. First you either move a character or add a new land tile to the board. There are three characters in the game and they all move differently. The Princess can move exactly one location space away from where she is located, she can also leap from Castle to Castle. The Knight can move exactly two location spaces from his starting position, it has to be exactly 2, and he cannot end at a location adjacent to his starting space. Lastly, the Dragon flies in a straight line from his starting position until he reaches the edge of the Kingdom. If you chose to add a land tile, you take the tip land tile from the stack without turning it over and place it in the Kingdom. The tile must be adjacent to at least two contiguous edges of the Kingdom and if the new land tile is adjacent to a river space, you must place it so it continues the River. If that is not possible, you may not place the tile there.
After that, you then check if you can Recount the Adventure. That story card in your hand will have an “objective” that you want a character or multiple characters to complete. At this point you will check your story card and see if you have completed the objective on the card. Usually these objectives simply want characters in specific regions of the map in order to complete them. If you do fulfill the objective, read the card aloud and place it face up next to your book, which is your draw pile of story cards, and then draw the next card. You may only Recount one adventure per turn.
Your other option on your turn is to Turn a Page. If that objective on your current Story Card seems out of reach or others at the table just aren’t cooperating, you can place your current Story Card on the bottom of your Book and draw a new one. When doing this action, you will flip the Magic Token that you have in front of you to its active side. Even if you only have one card left to complete, you can do this action to activate that Magic Token. On your next turn you can use that active Magic Token to take a second turn, immediately after your first.
Fairy Tile ends immediately as soon as one of the players Recounts the Adventure on the last Page of their Book and that person has won the game.
Beautiful is not really a descriptive enough word to describe the wonderful presentation of Fairy Tile. The stained glass touched artwork from Miguel Coimbra, who has wowed us for years with his 7 Wonders work, really highlights the gameplay of Fairy Tile and does wonders to immerse you into the fairy tale story that is being presented in the game. The miniatures that come with the game all look wonderful and are thankfully, pre-painted so even someone like me can enjoy the game without plain grey miniatures. Although the miniatures could have used a bit of variety shall we say. Not all Princes and Princesses need to be white.
Mechanically this one is simple, and clearly aimed at younger audiences or families with gamers of a younger age, although I will say, we have enjoyed playing Fairy Tile even in all adult game playing situations. It runs smoothly. Sometimes it may seem to run too smoothly when you pull a new Story Card and see that the objective has already been completed. But since you can only complete one Story Card a turn, that completed objective will more than likely not be completed by the time you get a chance to play again. The movement of the characters and the decision on when and where to add land tiles leads to some decision making while still being an easy game to wrap your mind around each turn.
The nitpicks with Fairy Tile all seem kind of well, honestly, kind of just nitpicky to be nitpicky, although my ability to read the cards was sometimes an issue. The objectives on the cards were clear as day, but I did have trouble reading the flavor text along with it, sometimes having to hold the card at odd angles. That could just be my bad eyesight, but the text could have been a bit bigger I think. The other nitpick is the insert and I hate to be that reviewer who does this but, the insert doesn’t properly hold the tiles, they have to go in at an angle as the hole that was designed to hold them is just a bit too small. None of my nitpicks have to do with gameplay, they are all kind of superfluous to gameplay, except being able to read the flavor text to tell your story, but even then, you don’t need to do that, although it is far more fun.
The team of Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert seem to be quite comfortable in many different styles of game design and it’s always fun to see designers branch out a bit and create something that seems completely different from what you are used to seeing them do. Also, if you haven’t tried Brett’s Divinare please do so at your earliest convenience. It really is a wonderful deduction game.
It really is difficult for me to be overly critical of these lighter weight, family style games. As long as they work well mechanically and the evoke a sense of fun while playing them with my family, I tend to enjoy them. Are they going to be the most played games in my collection? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthy of sticking around and being a fun staple for family game nights when the mood hits us. Fairy Tile hits on a lot of things we like about games as a family, it gets us talking, it helps us tell a story and most of all, it allows us to have fun together around a table as a family.