It dreamed, that all my plush toys were alive. The evil king of the nightmares, Crepitus, sent his servants under my bed. Their eight legs are trying to steal my quiet sleep, in particular, to feed on my fear. But when I woke up with a cry out of that dream, my room seemed calm. Was it really just a dream? But in that case, where are Stitch, Theadora, Lionel and others?
Our journey into the realm of toys and plush pets is here, but this is no Toy Story! Our story will be more adventurous. First promise about this is name of designer Jerry Hawthorne, who charmed us a few years ago with his Mice & Mystics and now returns with a new unique narrative concept. And even more cute! The game is called Stuffed Fables and its an adventure game with book mechanism. It was published in 2017 under logo of Plaid Hat Games and in distribution of Esdevium Games.
We all believe, that what the girl has told was no dream. On the lid of the box, we see determined plush heroes as they stand against their invisible enemy. Box is big enough to hide all those dreams and it has the same square dimension as Mice & Mystics. There is no game board inside and instead its replaced by a gigantic book in circular binding with many pages of hard paper and a total of seven stories.
Players open it on the first page and place it in the center of the table. They will find an introduction to their whole adventure there, which they will be able to read in a while and be transferred into the world of Stuffed Fables. First, players must choose their hero, get their miniature and big card with skills and several spaces.
Nearby book, there should be also small board with threat scale and progressbar towards completion fo a common task. Players create also lost deck (name of the world, where plushies will go), items and several sleep cards. There are, of course, a number of tokens, bad guys miniatures and especially a bag filled with colored dice, but also white and black according to number of participants. Each player gets five stuffing tokens and puts them in a space on his hero card.
And then finally comes the reading. There will generally be a lot of reading throughout the whole game, so players should have a player with good english, who will translate the whole story. After a while, they finally get to third page, where game board is printed, matching first location in the story. It is divided into squares and some of them also contain icons important for further gaming progress.
Heroes usually have a goal as a team – it can be dealing with enemies in that location, or perhaps to get somewhere as quickly as possible. There is, of course, much more and more options, but we do not want to spoil your experience. For all the action, players use dice and alterante in their turn. It is always necessary to draw five dice from the bag. If there is white and black die among them, they simply have to roll them. With a little luck, plush gets a new stuffing token and therefore a bit higher levels of life. On the contrary, the black die works against heroes and is placed on the threat scale after rolling.
Then players will turn their attention to remaining drawn dice. These can be used to move, attack or search. Individual colors have their own specialization, but it is often possible to use colors for what they are not intended (such as movement) with slight penalty. Then there is still a violet cube serving as a joker. But each of them must first be rolled and then used, although player has to announce his intention in advance.
In turn, hero is often hindered by color line in current location, which can only be crossed using dice of matching color. But dice can also be handed over to other player or postponed for the next turn. Very often, the team will have to deal with a common task, that needs dice to be contributed to (sum of the dots on them). Players can also search their surroundings with the help of the dice (the difficulty of searching is specific to each map – printed in the top right corner) and collect items, that can be equipped.
Of course, battle is also important. Once a monster appears on the board, it must be accompanied by a card attached to the side. A player may use one or more red (or purple) dice and their rolled sum needs to exceed enemy’s defensive value.
In case there are monsters present on the board, they will get a chance to retaliate from time to time. Such a moment occurs as soon as the number of dice on the threat scale reaches the number of bad guys present on the board. But even if there were no enemies in the location, black dice are still an unpleasant thing. Whenever their number reaches number of heroes, a surge will happen and new enemies will arrive.
There is always specific place on the board that serves as entry point for new opponents. However, the site also contains other icons, where players are faced with different tasks of the people in the world (randomly drawing the card from the lost deck) and also a space, that shifts a story forward – its number refers to text described in the right column of the currently revealed two-page.
There is no realy success in every game. Story is comprised of a number of pages, that are linked with text and long reading. Between each location, players will have to read for a few minutes. Therefore, it is not difficult to interrupt playing at any time and continue next evening. So the game ends after many games at the end of the story. But all the time, heroes lose their stuffing due to enemy attacks and may collapse. Then hero has no choice but to wait for some of his friends to help him and give him a piece out of his belly.
Stuffed Fables is an amazing adventure full of narrative. Players will spend a lot of time reading the story, that the author wrote for the game and will gradually discover it. Often, they will even have to make some decisions and choices for the player, making the experience pleasantly nonlinear and giving players the feeling, that they have a real impact on the gameplay.
From ruleook point of view, everything is really easy. But this contrasts with the introductory learning of the game, which is conceived in a playful, but still lengthy form. Indeed, the length of some textual passages may be the main reason, why Stuffed Fables might disappoint some of you. It’s just not as much playing in this game as reading and almost feels like a book.
Rules themselves are really basic – pull the dice, roll them, use them and pass the word to another player. This is a game that can also be played by families with smaller children (beginners). It is precisely this novelty, that targets them above all other groups. If you have children craving for adventure, then do not hesitate – they will love this game.
But from this moment on, we will just praise. A great foundation for the experience is, of course, a book that brings ever-new experiences. On hundreds of pages, players get a huge portion of locations and enormous development of the story. It was perhaps the only element, where our favorite Mice & Mystics were lacking.
Due to the ability to interrupt the game at any time, it is not possible to evaluate classical game time. From the point of view of the durability of the box, however, we can say that the game will certainly last for a long time. At that time, you will love all the heroes so much, that you will find it hard to say goodby. Let us hope, therefore, that there will be an expansion, that depends mainly on the new story.
Number of players is also very good. It does not really matter and can even change between the pages! Players have dice in a sack, that are simply drawn out at the same pace, making enemies appear and act from time to time. The more players, the more often enemies fight actively against them. Great idea!
And crown of it all is a great processing. Beautiful miniatures, fabulous drawings, a perfectly written story. There is nothing to add. We just did not mention, that the course of the game is also framed by exploration of cards, which are hidden at the beginning in the so-called discovery deck (ie the discovery deck).
Do you remember, when we said, that Heldentaufe is the best adventure game for families with children? Its not true from now on! We played Stuffed Fables and after hours spent in the lost world we can only share our enthusiasm. Stuffed Fables is simply a great game for the adventure-greedy family!
Stuffed Fables, in fact, as an adventure game has no negatives, only things, that can bother some type of players. This novelty is one greatest stories, that is full of reading and digesting, but at the same time it does not offer as many gaming as you'd expect. Overall, this game is a real experience not only for children but also for their parents. Playing Stuffed Fables is amazing fun!