Upon a Fable by Mark MacKinnon from Dyskami Publishing combines the euro-style strategy of worker placement games with the infinite variation and entertainment of storytelling. At first glance, players may think of it as a fantasy adventure with its rich theme and art by Ruth Sanderson that is a feast for the eyes, reminiscent of old Romantic paintings. However, the core of the game is thoroughly logic-based strategy as players guide their fairytale characters through a story all their own.
Upon a Fable takes place over the course of three “books,” or sets of rounds, where players follow phases of actions. Each player begins with a Realm Board that contains a first base of operations. Characters, including a prince and princess, girl in a riding hood, dragon, witch, and wolf, are moved from the realm to the center Story Boards, claiming Wonders that come in the forms of magic, love, honor, and everything that makes a story great. Players accumulate Wonders and spend them to expand their realms until the end of the game, when scores are given for the many tokens and realms to see who is the winner and proclaimed High Emperor or Empress over all the fairy tale lands.
Cards shake things up in Upon a Fable, making no two games the same. As the books unfold, new spaces for token placement are opened while unlocked Blessings and Curses can shift the lead among players. In addition, the fable cards give players one-time bonuses in Dreams, such as converting Wonders or adding realms, or ongoing bonuses in Ever Afters, which may cost to play. Not only will players need to strategize from the board and the actions of others, they will need to make the best use of the cards in their hands to go for the win.
Upon a Fable lasts about 15 minutes per player, making it a quick game for small groups or the center of a game night for larger crews. All the while through play, players will be mindful of the need for strategy, but it is the fun of the rich story that ultimately makes the game shine. As players place their tokens and lay cards, they should tell the tale of what is happening, how dreams are affecting their realms and what characters are doing to gather magic, followers, or castles.
Upon a Fable is a worker placement game for one to six players aged 13 and up. Younger players might not be able to keep up with the complex placement strategies, but they may enjoy team play while helping to tell the story. Alternate rules for a solo game outline a competition against oneself to get the most possible points, ranging from an “F – Poor” grade to beyond A+. Players will have to maximize their puzzle-solving in Upon a Fable to achieve their high score.