Translation of review by Powermilk: http://powermilk.pl/2016/07/karczemne-opowiesci-szlachcic-i-...
Being a noble can be boring. You have to go to the balls, dress elegant, live opulent life. It is quite dull and tiring, it is no surprise that the rich spend their fortunes on rubbish. Here they will buy exotic and rare animal, there some strange and useless painting. Some of them want to taste the simple life, but more extreme of them want to become adventurers. The latter is the type that you will assume the role of in Tavern’s Tales
Adventurer out of a noble
Dimmed light of tavern, guests playing, drinking beer, looking threateningly at each other and spinning tales. The box cover alone wants to introduce us to the theme. The design is highly distinctive, some kind of RPG and adventure spoof, no wonder that it brings Munchkin to mind. Art is sketch-like and using too saturated colors (during the first game I couldn’t resist about commenting that we are playing with Native Americans) and may be disliked by some. Box contents are cards, some tiles and counters. Most of the cards are character cards, which we will recruit to our party.
Rulebook is divided into basic and advanced rules. Basic rules are useful during the first encounter with the game, then you can play advanced variant. Divide character into characters with the same name (only a part of heroes is used in basic variant) forming a pyramid with the least valuable heroes at the base and progressing with more valuable heroes with the next rows. Put quest tiles’ stack nearby and take number of tiles from it equal to the number of players + 1 (previously removing 4-difficulty quests from the stack for basic variant) and put it face-up by the stack. If we are playing basic variant, then we take the standard set of cards. In advanced variant sets are constructed following certain rules.
The game lasts 9 rounds, during our turn if we don’t have any cards in hand, then we collect everything in front of us and then perform two out of three available actions. What can we do? We can play card as ready, then we just put it in front of us and if we want we perform an action written on a card. Other possibility is playing card as exhausted and performing one of two options: recruitment or taking on a quest. Each character has its own persuasion stat (number on a pint), flip any number of characters and recruit (take to the hand) card with value equal to or more than the sum of persuasion. Taking on a quest consists of exhausting a number of characters in a number equal to the quest’s difficulty, while the character’s knowledge of terrain must match the quest’s terrain. Quests will give you points at the end of the game. The last option is to play a set of cards. We can play any number of characters with the same name, but only one of them will be ready and we can use the ability as many times as many cards we played in this action. After the ninth round th game ends and players count points for quests, met characters and talents.
So, did you catch that unicorn?
Tavern’s Tales is a pleasant and simple game with RPG theme. Interaction in basic variant is restricted to exhausting opponent’s cards with druid and taking the best quests and characters. There are more possibilities to mess with the opponents in advanced variant.
Dynamics of the game are very fun, regardless of the number of players the game doesn’t drag – only at the beginning, when players don’t know the rules yet. Yes, in this case things tend to go slower. But performing two actions is not particularly absorbing.
The stuff of this game is coming up with combinations and timing your moves. It happened often that I calculated something wrong and when I was about to go on a quest I was left with one card in hand. That’s what we will be doing through majority of the game, count and calculate how to get the most point with the fewest actions. It’s a kind of a puzzle that is being disrupted by other players. Main mechanic is a kind of deck-building, we expand our deck through recruitment, which leads to more options. Buying cards is so fun that it absorbs more attention than actually getting points.
The diversity of our party is also important because we get points for each hero we know. Additionally, each character has a talent – the same symbols are on quest tiles. We multiply the amount of tiles times the number of characters we have with the same talent and we get that much additional points.
Character’s names are trying to put Tolkien’s world into Slavic lands. Part of names is hard to pronounce, some of them can be quite funny (Moldbeard had me). In my opinion it builds the atmosphere quite well, but I understand people who don’t like it. Nevertheless, I think that adventures that our heroes will go on fit the theme quite well – searching for an unicorn, defeating the golem or stopping vicious orc.
Main downside of this title is counter-intuitiveness of rules. Deck-building alone is not an easy mechanic, so a special variant of it can be even harder nut to crack. We will be feeling confused a lot during the gameplay, but after the first game everything should be relatively clear. At the beginning it is hard to feel this particular something about the game. A lot of people I tested the game with didn’t get the idea of the game. Advanced variant gives much more space to maneuver, so if people who play with you are geeks or generally experienced in boardgames, then I recommend to skip the basic rules and hop right to the advanced rules.
Additionally, one faint flaw is typical for new games from Tailor Games, and that is that there is a lot of air in the box. In this game it bothers me the least, because there are more elements in this game than in the other titles from them.
But for what these travels, good sir?
Tavern’s Tales is a good game, which gives the feeling of adventure. Gathering team, going on journeys and collecting points for the most interesting tales is stuff of this game. Not once looking for connections and combinations between characters will distract us from getting points. Games are quick, perfect for beer or other drink. I honestly recommend it.
+ Dynamic gameplay
+ Interesting – but distinctive – design
+ Combo focused
+ Tavern-like atmosphere
+ Two variants, basic for new players and advanced for veterans
- Arts and character’s names do not take to everybody’s liking
- At the beginning rules are not very clear