Richard Pardoe
United States
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During our game of Memoir '44, Sabrina started to watch the game. When we were done, she wanted to join in the games and indicated a desire to play Once Upon a Time.

This is a game of telling a fairy tale via cards. Each player is dealt an ending as well as card having typical elements found in a fairy tale (for example, king, journey, disguise, etc). Players can get rid of their cards by incorporating the item on their card into the tale being told. If they should happen to mention an item on another players card, that player can play their card not only to discard the card, but also to gain the ability to continue the story hoping to get rid of more cards.

Once a player has discarded all their element cards, they must then end the story with the ending they have been dealt. Finally, a few of the element cards also serve as "interrupts" which need only match the class of element (person, place, etc) being played by another player. This nicely adds the ability to keep the story moving between multiple story tellers without relying on just the elemental matches......

Rich received the ending, But she still visited them from time to time and saw cards of king, journey, at sea, cook, disguise in his hand and began to formulate a story line that began....

Once upon a time, in a far way kingdom, there lived a king. Working in the lower chambers of the castle for the king, was a faithful cook. One day, the king summoned to cook to his throne room and asked the cook to go on a distant journey for the king for the cook was a most trusted servant. The cook quickly agreed and the next day was aboard a ship sailing (at sea) to a far off land. Upon reaching the shores of that land, a land known to be an enemy of the kingdom, the cook adopted a disguise....

At this point Sabrina played an aspect interrupt to gain control of the story....

The cook went into town and walked through a door into a house. In that house was a secret room. The key to that room was hidden. But the cook knew the key was hidden in the forest.....

Sabrina having difficulty continuing her story passed her turn to Dave.

The cook set about on her mission to find the key in the forest by leaving town and heading down the road. Now the cook was in actuality very beautiful. For her mission, she had adopted the disguise of a lowly shepherdess for the land was one known for tending to sheep. Of course where there are sheep, there are also wolves. And has the cook (shepherdess) walked down the road and entered the edge of the forest, she saw a wolf. The wolf was very still and did not move. The cook realized it had been poisoned....

Rich now interrupts.

The cook was worried about who might be poisoning the wolf. Could those people also have other plans to use the poison. She didn't want to find out. So when she heard a noise from the forest, she started to flee. Exiting the wood was a group of woodsmen who quickly gave chase after the cook.....

Dave interrupts.

The cook ran over a small hill and reached a fork in the road. She quickly went left. Luckily, for her, the woodsmen went right and the cook could stop running and catch her breath. As she rest, a young childapproached the cook looking very dirty, for the child had fallen and injured.

The cook offered to help the child. Together, they found their way to the child's home. The father upon seeing the child instantly flew into a rage accusing the cook of injuring the child. The cook explained her story. The father, being very wise, calmed down and listened to the cook's tale. He understood all the cook had said. So he forgave her and they were married.

And Dave ends the story. Granted, we didn't tie up the lose end about the cook's mission or the hidden key, but at our level of play (just beginning), we didn't care all that much. I like this game for the experience of telling a tale and trying to fit the dealt elements into the tale. The first few playings of the game were a bit tentative as I suspect players are fearful of mentioning something that allows their plot (turn) to get stolen.

But with the interrupts in the deck, it is all but impossible to keep the tale in its entirety. I have decided it is better to broaden the tale with detail, but focus on an arc that gets towards the desired ending. But all in all, creative linkage like that certainly is a not a skill often used in a games setting.

Sabrina has enjoyed the game and likes to play the game with just 2 players. I think that this is another nice game that youngsters (like Sabrina) can play along with the adults. Of course, when Sabrina tells her tale, it won't be quite as involved as when the adults tell a tale (as can be seen above). But even in a 2 player game with Sabrina, I find that we can balance the relative player skill by giving Sabrina fewer cards and perhaps a choice of endings.
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