RogerBW's Blog

Reading Boardgames Social 23 September 2014 24 September 2014

Quite a small meeting this time, just three of us. (The main meetings are on two Wednesdays a month, but I have role-playing commitments then.)

In spite of the football (I gathered from noises that it was an "important" game), the pub remained reasonably pleasant all evening. We started off with two-player Tsuro, which is a remarkably tactical game given its short length. (With the maximum eight players it's even shorter, and rather less tactical.)

Then, by my request, we went on to the new (Z-Man Games) edition of Tales of the Arabian Nights, which I've been meaning to try out. I've played the original edition, but it was a long time ago and I've largely forgotten it. Three players seemed just about perfect for this, with one active, one on the Reaction Matrix and one on the Book of Tales.

We soon spread out from Baghdad (one of us whisked off by a djinn and Lost before the game even began). The map is rather fine, and while the art is fairly minimal the components in general are rather pleasing.

The player board. Each time you encounter something, as it might be a Mild Storm, a Mad Enchantress or a Blind Hunchback, you get one of fifteen letters. You choose your general response to the situation from the options listed under that letter, meaning they're mostly not wildly unreasonable. They're fairly general, things like "Hire Help", "Attack", "Bargain", or "Pray". On the basis of that reaction and some die rolling, you get a paragraph in the Book of Tales (over 2,000 entries), which presents the detailed situation, and may give you a choice (if you have a particular skill). The outcome can be almost anything; indeed, it's a very random game, and you end up feeling like a pawn in the hand of God rather than a master tactician. Yeah, I didn't win. But I did have a great time.

At one point I was Enslaved, Grief-Stricken, and Blessed; I later lost all of those, but was Wounded and Respected.

It's much more like an interactive story than most board games. Effects are random and whimsical. Like Arkham Horror, a lot of the time you're a passenger while things are happening at you. But the game does it so well, and involves at least two other players while things are going on, that it's a really enjoyable ride, and one in which you have the illusion of being in control. (I do wonder whether it might not drag a little with more players, though.)

This is definitely going on my list to purchase. See also an opinion from Shut Up and Sit Down which was what made me look at this edition in the first place.

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