Playing more games is better!
Collecting games is not playing games!
Do you like a thematic game that is as much experience as a game? Then this game is a must try for you. Do you like to count every point, maximize your actions and try to win at all costs? Then this is the game for you, as long as you can forget all those things and just enjoy a game for what it is(there are points at the end). Have you never seen a game before but still read BGG for the pictures of painted miniatures? Why are you reading this? You know what, you should try this game too.
Fog of Love is a romantic comedy in board game form for two players. Each person takes on a character that the two players build together and they go through scene cards, which are episodes in scenarios that give both players or one player a choice. The choice made determines what happens in the game, you can add or subtract hearts and/or put down personality tokens on spaces. You also have Trait cards that provide a bonus at the end of the game if you meet them. You have Destiny cards that you shed at points in the game that determine your "win condition" for your character and once all the episodes are over you figure out who "wins".
When you get the game there is a built in tutorial that walks you through all the rules, it adds time to the first game but explains every type of card and symbol as you go. I should add the tutorial is rebuildable and the instructions on how to do so are in the manual so you can play it with non gamers and get the walkthrough. If you aren't using the tutorial the manual tells you how to set up the game depending on the scenario.
First off the character building is a lot of fun, you pick your personal Traits, then an Occupation, then the other player and yourself give each other Feature cards that just add to the character you are playing, thematically these are the thing that attracted you to the person. They can be physical characteristics or mannerisms of affectations and they are fun if you can get into the theme of the thing.
Then you set out the scenario, draw cards as instructed from three different piles, Sweet, Serious and Drama. As they sound Sweet gives mostly nice options, Serious are the more common relationship issues and Drama is exactly what you think. Every turn you play a Scene card of your choice and then you both talk it over and play it out. That is the meat and potatoes of the game: a scenario comes up and you read it out loud, read out the decisions and then it will tell you if you both make a choice in which case you pick from your poker chips the one with the letter of your choice on the bottom(A,B,C or D) and put it on the board face down. Then you reveal the chips and do what the card says. It can also be a choice that the other player has to make, how to deal with a situation in which case they make their choice and then you do what the card says. In all this ideally you are in character and reacting as they would. That is the basic play of the game.
Is the game good? Mechanically it is sound, you are trying to hit a certain heart number and have your Traits met depending on the Destiny card you pick. It is all pretty rote and technically you can make choices on the Scene cards that advance your goal. To me if this is how you want to play there are better games out there where you can push cubes. However if you decide to get into the role and choose as your character would then the other mechanics become the hum of the engine you can just barely hear under your favorite playlist while driving. I mean, I like to listen to my engine just fine but the music I am listening to is in the forefront.
When I got the game my girlfriend said she totally wanted to watch a friend of mine and myself play and under serendipitous conditions we were all able to be in the same place at the same time. We both played as gentleman who were on a Sunday Morning Date. We gave each other features and explained why that attracted us to them, we picked occupations and talked about how we got the jobs and why we wanted them. We affected voices in a non-stereotypical way, neither of us went to a media infused Will and Grace style, we were just two dudes on a date. The scenes started coming out and we were a pretty bad match in choices. But it was fun, it was so fun arguing about a trip to IKEA. It was great to be told we were getting a little comfortable and maybe needed to lose weight when he was a muscular guy and then the next card I played was basically "Do these pants make me look fat?". We dealt with these scenes in character, we argued about our choices, we laughed about our choices, we kept calling back to previous choices and the mistakes the other person made. It was pure joy. We were putting out out trait discs, we were hiding secret cards under the board, I played a card and revealed a secret of his and we dealt with that in a way that did not work out well for him.
The end of the game was losses for both of us, I don't think Chad and Billie Jo stayed together but we had a good time being them for a bit. The tutorial is a little long, there are a lot of tutorial cards to read and we would groan when a new one came up but we game a lot and had the idea of the game down. If one is to play with a non gamer let them know there will be a little extra time but as long as you follow the cards reading the rulebook is unnecessary. This is a great feature and you can just unwrap the cards and put them down in the proper spaces and play.
Really this game is more of an experience and I liken it to Tales of the Arabian Nights only instead of the game screwing you over constantly it is your gaming partner. The experience over game-play is the only comparison I make between those two because at their core they are very different games but I have almost 1001 stories from playing Tales. I loved playing Fog of Love, I had fun the whole time but it is not a game I would want to play multiple games of back to back. I can play Neuroshima Hex or Star Realms or Gloomhaven back to back over and over but that is not the point of this game. I don't have a lot of Neuroshima Hex stories in my head, it is fun and strategic and I'll never turn a game of it down but there is no story element nor should there be. In Fog of Love the story is the whole thing, the decisions you make, the decisions your partner makes and the decisions you both don't make are the game. The laughter, the fake indignation and the joy of finally being on the same wavelength are just a phenomenal thing to enjoy. The game is relaxing in a great way and I look forward to stepping into the shoes of my next character when I play it next.