Review: Upon a Fable – tell me a story

Upon a Fable - packaging

Fairy-tale world is once again at a loss. They all lived happily and happily, when suddenly earth cracked. There was no trace of buildings, walls or trees, that grew in that spot. But such a kingdom can not live without any land, so all the people turned to Fables. Magical creatures, that usually do not care about human misery, but this time, it was about their world as well. They prepared plan to rebuild the world together with people.

Perhaps you do not know, that you are one such Fables yourself. And if by any chance you are not (you’ll find it out easily: Fable has three names), it does not matter much. Board game will help you to become one of them. It was published in the fall of in the production of Canadian company Dyskami Publishing and created by Mark MacKinnon. Illustrations were taken care of by . But mainly supporters of helped them to complete it.

The game can be found in a greenish box, that proudly bears its name printed with fairy letters. And inside its dominated by several larger board, but they are not foldable. Instead, they represent pages of a book, which a true Fable uses to reconstruct the kingdom. One board forms the left and the other one right side of an open book. They have six or nine rectangular boxes (depending on version of the game), both for playing of cards and representation of choosable actions.

Upon a Fable - game is ready

Another six equally sized boards are designed for different opponents. These are realm boards with space for six kingdoms, but also positions for storing five types of miracle, which serve as a source of power. They are love, magic, honor, castles and followers. They are represented in the game by 150 tokens, which are punched out of the sheets together with tokens of Fables (six for each player), fifteen multipliers and five tokens of sleeping kingdom.

Remaining components to mention is 110 cards, a scoring pad and a pencil. Most of the available cards are fate, containing empires in three sizes, along with cards of sleep (23) and forever (27). Moreover, there are still story cards, blessings, curses, and six help cards for individual members of the royal reconstruction.

In this section of the review, it is also important to mention, that you can buy the game with a special expansion, that replaces most of the 200 chips with wooden tokens. Magic will thus become stars, honor is now shields and love is hearts. We get to play with this expansion, so game looks in photographs differently, than if you buy it only in the basic package.

Upon a Fable - game in progress

At the beginning of the game, each of the opponents take one realm board, help card, and a pair of magic tokens. Of course, also tokens representing each Fable go into his possession, as he will lead them to victory during the match. One of these characters must be sent at the beginning into starting realm, which is printed on the board. Players also gets four fate cards.

All remaining tokens of miracles are set aside to a place, that is called earth. From there, you will draw all its magic, when time comes. Center of the table is then seized by the pair of boards – one of them is called a story board with nine boxes, which immediately filled up with shuffled story cards. In addition to them, six lower boxes must be covered with one of shuffled curses and blessings. Besides the first page, you simply place action board representing right side of the book according to number of players and fun can begin.

Entire game consists of nine rounds, which correspond to distribution of cards on the story board. At the beginning of each of these rounds, player reveal upcoming event. These serve always as another locations to use (= place fables) for players during the game. Then players together rejuvenate the wonders by adding new tokens to the menu on the story board. There will always be exactly as many new tokens, as is printed on the board.

Upon a Fable - game in progress

Each player then receives new three fate cards. He keeps only one of them and sends remaining two neighboring to players on his left and right. Once everyone is happy with selection and equally got three cards (one plus two from his neighbors), round continues with the most important part – exploring the stories.

To do this, players can only use Fables, who live in empires on their realms board. You have access to only one at the beginning. You can send it to any story on both boards. So you can get not only wonders lying on the board (and immediately take all of them), but you also get opportunity to draw or play a card or become a new starting player. There are also cards of stories available to send Fable, that are gradually unfolding on left side of the book. You will be able to play not only small, but also large and epic realm.

Once you add new empire into your kingdom, you put a new figure on it and you can still use this Fable to explore in current round. Or you can keep him in his kingdom, for which you will easily gain one miracle token of magic.

Upon a Fable - game in progress

All actions are evaluated immediately after posting Fable, so that phase will end, when players do not have or do not want to send another piece to explore. Players can then play up to two cards and use their effect, but it is not a requirement. If they made decision, one card must be dream and second forever. Some of them have printed price for playing it in its lower left corner. While dreamy cards have an immediate effect, forever will last until end of the game.

At the end of each of three story lines on left book page (ie, every third story card), players have to strengthen their realms. Contrary to how it sounds, it means, that players will give up tokens of magic, so that their residents are not affected by forces coming from the outside. Realms, for which you can not pay, falls asleep and Fables living in it will not be available in the next round.

At the end of the round, players add together new wonders on the story board, according to their value printed and pull back explorers back into their homes. Game ends, when you play ninth story. Only then is the time to sum up victory points. Scoring summary card will help you with that and number of points depends on number of different tiles. You get points for remaining wonder tokens, for forever cards, but especially for realms according to their size.

Upon a Fable - cards

Upon a Fable is a board game, in which you build your kingdom from realms. You need a famous Fables, whose power of words can establish and develop new realms. But in order to do miracles, they need resources, that are in intangible form found everywhere in nature (wonders). When you are able to deliver them these wonders, you will soon enjoy once again a beautiful and rich kingdom.

Some realms allow players to gain some advantage over others at the beginning of a round. This means, that when you are playing them, you must plan well in advance. But otherwise its all about your ability to manage limited resources, because they are needed for many things. The same goes for Fables, as you have a little of them to do all, you would like to be done.

Although the game has a fairytale theme, we can not help thinking, that with its mechanisms and evaluation its a lot like famous Agricola. Especially, when you look at the scoring summary card, you switch of similarity hums immediately. But resemblance does not end here, because in the course of the story, revealed cards gives you access to new opportunities. At the end of some rounds, you have to use magic to ward off external forces, that are attacking your empire (= feed the family).

Upon a Fable - tokens

Perhaps the biggest plus point of this game is its simplicity. If you put it next to the already mentioned Agricola, it is certainly much easier to learn. Maybe it’s the theme of the game itself, but rather absence of some complex elements and links, that are present in that farming game. Game can please those, who would like to play Agricola, but its too heavy for them or they did not like its theme.

Several paths, that you can follow, lead to victory. With this, game finally convinces you of its qualities. Although for a fairytale game well suited for playing with smaller ones (after learning medium difficult rules), there is a lot of conflicts in the match.

Game then (if you’re not slower player) takes about one hour to complete, which is reasonable game time. With less experienced opponents or more participants, time of battle for the kingdom can stretch up to ninety minutes, which is still nice compared to multiplayer Agricola.

Upon a Fable - cards

Unfortunately, the game is not as epic as it could have been. At least in the basic version. Once you add in lots of wooden tokens, game seems to look by a magnitude better. But even this does not mean, that it somehow extremely excells in the design of boards. None of this is breathtaking, but it suits its topic well and cards have nice pictures on them, so in the end, its good.

Upon a Fable is a classic game of worker placement and usage of raw materials, which is trying to cover failures in the atmosphere with bonus wooden tokens. This is not in any way an exceptional game and it uses mechanisms already seen, its even really close to some of past games. Although the game is fun, it is still missing something. Fairy theme is a good idea, but its not drawn close to the stage, where you would have been won by its atmosphere. And this is quite a shame, because otherwise, its really nice and simpler game, than many others with similar topic..

DesignerMark C. MacKinnon
ArtistRuth Sanderson
PublisherDyskami Publishing Company
Year Published2013
# of Players1 - 6
User Suggested # of Players Best with 6 players
Recommended with 2, 3, 6+ players
(5 voters)
Playing Time60
Mfg Suggested Ages13 and up
User Suggested Ages10 and up
(2 voters)
Language DependenceModerate in-game text - needs crib sheet or paste ups
(3 voters)
CategoryAbstract Strategy, Territory Building
MechanicModular Board, Open Drafting, Set Collection, Worker Placement
ExpansionUpon a Fable: 6-Card Promo Pack, Upon a Fable: New Kingdoms
FamilyAdmin: Better Description Needed!, Crowdfunding: Kickstarter, Game: Upon a Fable
Primary NameUpon a Fable

Infos courtesy of More Infos.

Review: Upon a Fable – tell me a story
Final word
Once upon a time, there was a game called Upon a Fable, that wanted to please players with its fairy tale topic. But it chose the wrong path and got lost along the way. Since then, its vainly looking for its fairy magic. Nor have we found it. Although the game is otherwise a simple worker placement, with a nice extra miracle tokens, it can not be pulled out of the ocean of missing atmosphere. The game in its essence is fun and ideas, that surround it, are not bad. You will experience even sleeping realms. That's why we eventually will recommend it for those, who want a simpler Agricola or a nice worker placement game. Game time is shorter and has less demanding rules. But all this works just in case, that you do not have a farm game like this in your home. Then excursion into dreamland does not sound like a bad idea.
Reader Rating0 Votes
nice idea and theme
blessing and curse cards
simple rules
nice additional tokens (not included)
shorter game time
realms have abilities
nice illustration on cards
more ways to win
mechanisms are very similar to Agricola
appearance of game boards would deserve improvement
missing fairytale atmosphere
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