Continuing our way through the games we recently received from Italian company DV Giochi, today we look at the mysterious card game Dark Tales.
While we play a lot of games based on fictional elements, I can’t personally recall the last time I played one based on a fairy tale world. Granted, Snow White and Cinderella don’t make appearances in here, so it’s not rooted in any specific fairy tale. But utilizing that kind of backstory isn’t seen much, as other games take you through more Dungeons & Dragons and LOTR–type settings — which makes this one extra special to check out.
Dark Tales is a card game for 2-4 players where each of you essentially plays as unnamed figureheads in a fairy tale fantasy world, each of you trying to obtain the most amount of treasure by the end of the game. You do so by playing cards from your hand that consist of characters, locations, monsters, and abilities that all have an affect on the gameplay. You start by picking one of three Setting cards from two different piles marked “A” and “B”, with the first telling you the special rules and items of the game you’ll be playing, while the second serves as a surprise scoring system at the end of the game.
Picking a random player (special thanks to Mark, Jessie, and Georgia, as we played in their backyard during a BBQ), you start off with three cards in your hand. The game begins in Night mode by playing a Night card down on the table in the “Common” area. The player draws one card, plays an item if they can, and then must play at least one card (even if it does nothing to benefit them).
Many of the cards give you Victory Points, which you earn throughout the game and go toward your final score, and contain symbols to indicate what kind of card they are and what you can do with them. Some stay in front of you, and others go into the common area and effect everyone.
Throughout the game you’ll be able to gain items like swords, armor, magic wands, and gold coins. Each of those items has a special ability or an added stipulation that can help you down the road with what you’re doing. While everyone has their own goals based off their hand, ultimately you’re all trying to achieve the same thing with getting the biggest score you can. Some cards will help everyone get there, others will make achieving those goals near impossible. For example: The Night card allows certain people and creatures to do things at night, but if you play a Day card, some of those abilities go away and others get enhanced or changed.
One of the biggest issues we ended up having with the game is that our Common area started getting bigger than our actual hands or what we played. There are a lot of items and people that can make it into the fray and cause a disruption in the game for single players or everyone in general, and it doesn’t seem like there are many ways to kill people off or remove spells and enchantments from the area. So ultimately, you end up having a lot of different options on the board you have to keep track of, which can often be confusing and you’ll forget certain things are at stake.
Dark Tales ends when the last card is drawn, which is an interesting way to stop the game as whatever’s left in your hand immediately goes to waste. At this point, you flip the B card and see what the bonus actions are for gaining points and what to do with your remaining items. You tally everything up and see where you stand, as the person with he highest amount of Victory Points wins. It makes for an odd change of pace as there’s no way to predict how to win the game at the end until that card is flipped. There are things you can do to get yourself prepared, like going for more of the gold coins, but fate has a hand in whether you win or not.
Overall, I enjoyed Dark Tales and applaud it for being semi-original compared to other group deck games. The artwork on these cards is absolutely stunning. The company could have cheapened out and got very generic designs, but these are the kind you’d see on Magic: The Gathering-type decks. The rules may be a bit for some to get used to, but once you do, you’ll be able to pull off some cool moves on others.
The other issues I had with the system was that there wasn’t a huge variety of cards, and it felt like I was running over the same types in my hand repeatedly. It would be nice to have expansion decks to make the game longer and more interesting.
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