Wow, so this is what you get for 100 pieces of gold.
I had ordered this from Yuhodo, a Japanese game company. I e-mailed the company initially asking to pay by a bank transer. The game was 2100 Yen (approximately $21 US) plus 510 Yen shipping, got a response from Naoko Kodama saying the bank transfer would cost 2500 Yen (!). So I asked if I could do an alternate form of payment, got contacted by the designer of the game, Satoshi Nakamura, saying I cold use Paypal, but I asked Jean to pay it for me, since Jean had a Paypal account with a low limit, then I paid Jean back. It worked out to be $34.10 Canadian. It was sent out on Dec. 15, 04 and arrived on Jan 5, 05. A bit of a convoluted way to get a game, but I had heard good things about this at Essen 2004.
Quick Synopsis: The game consists of 100 cards: 28 holy empire (yellow), 28 fairywood (green) 28 dragonvale (red) and 16 shadow (black) cards. Each player is dealt five cards. You choose one, then pass the to the left. Keep doing this until you have drafted five cards. Then from these five cards, choose three to play, one at a time. Discard the two not played, then draft five new cards, this time passing to the right. Again, choose three cards to play. Repeat this until you have 12 cards in front of you, then score. The cards themselves have a point value listed on the front, and many have some conditions you have to meet to score those points. For instance, each of the yellow, green and red suits have one card that scores 9 pts, but only if you have one other particular card (a one in 100 card). Each of the yellow, green and red suits have 7 cards each in the suit that score the square of the number of those that like cards that you collect. (Eg if I collect 4 homesteaders, they are worth 4 pts each to me for 16 pts.) The frequency of the cards are listed on the cards as well (eg 1/100 means there is only 1 of that particular card). Some cards have special abilities: 1) hunt - when revealing cards simultaneously, a hunt ability of one card may cause other cards to come into play flipped over, 2) close - some cards flip over cards 3) open - cards with this ability flip closed cards back. Only face up cards score points.
I had tried a game with Angela on Friday Jan 7. Angela's cards were: 1. Fairy Ring. 2. Shadowking Ch.4. 3. Fairy Queen. 4. Gold Dragon. 5. Knight Round Table. 6. Bard 7. Spirit of the Spring. 8. Dragon's Tal Ch. 3. 9. Shadow King Ch. 3. 10. Knight's Tale Ch. 1 11. Knights Round Table. 12. Elven warrier. All her cards scored for 54 pts.
My cards were 1. Magic Circle of Chaos. 2. Fairy Ring. 3. Shadowking Ch. 2. 4. Shadowking Ch 1. 5. Sword king, 6. Vampire, 7. Dragon's Lair, 8. Dragon's Tale Ch. 2. 9. Almighty, 10. Knight's Tale Ch 4., 11. Bronze Dragon, 12. Dragon's Lair. On turn 3 and turn 4, the hunt cards from Angela had closed my two shadow cards. I also realized I played some rules wrong when the vampire closes all players' cards, including yourself, and my first turn card should have closed itself since it was the only card on the table (you reveal the cards simultaneously then resolve their effects - The Magic Circle of Chaos is worth 5 pts, but when it is played, the player must close one of their own cards). My score was thus 32. I thought the part where the Fairy Queen and Gold Dragon hunted my black cards were a bit flukey, but that is part of the game. It's more likely to happen with more players since there are more targeting opportunities. Also in a 2 player game, you do not see all the cards in the deck.
With the 7 players (JP, Greg Nicholas, Don Smith, Jean Jodoin, Gary Baziuk, Trevor Brooks and Norbert) we had on Saturday Jan 8, JP and Greg were a team and Don and Jean were a team.
Don/Jean played cards were: 1. Dragon's Lair. 2. Elvin Warrier. 3. Silver Dragon. 4. Fairy Tale Ch.2, 5.Dragon's Tale Ch. 3, 6. Bard, 7. Knight of the Round Table, 8. Fairy Ring, 9. Spirit of the Spring, 10. Knight's Tale Ch. 3, 11. Silver Dragon, 12 . Bard. They ended up with 50 pts. I think the key here was they were able to meet their conditions for the Fairy tale Ch. 2 card for 7 pts and their Dragon's Tale Ch. 3 card for 8 pts.
Gary played 1. Sky-dance Dragon, 2. Dwarven warrior, 3. Homesteader, 4. Sky-dance dragon, 5. Dwarven Warrier, 6. Homesteader, 7. Dragon's Lair, 8. Knights of the Round Table, 9. Dark Angel, 10. Sky-dance dragon, 11. D.T. Ch. 1, 12. Homesteader. I wasn't sure if he had the most green cards to fulfill the conditons of the Dragon's Tale Ch. 1 card, but he got 12 pts from his two dwarven warriers (3 pts for each S-D dragon), since there were two sky dance dragons. Just those 4 cards alone gave him 18 pts for a total of 44 pts.
Trevor played 1. Sword king, 2. Knight's Tale Ch. 4, Mischievous fairy (MF), 4. K.T. Ch. 1, 5. Castle, 6, Staff bearing sage, 7. MF, 8. Elven warrior, 9. Fairy King, 10. Knight round table, 11. Dragon's Lair, 12. Shadowking's tale Ch. 1, for a total of 44 pts as well, scoring most of his points from meeting the various conditions. (Sword king, 1 in 100 card was worth 3 pts, and the Knight's Tale, 1 in 100 card counts 9 pts if you ahve the Sword King).
JP/Greg played 1. Castle, 2. Almighty, 3. Demon, 4. Dwarven warrior, 5. S-D dragon, 6. Magic Circle of Chaos, 7. Staff bearing sage, 8. Dwarven warrior, 9. Children of the dragon. (COD)10. COD, 11. COD, 12. COD. They used the Almighty card as a S-D dragon, had 16 pts from CODs to score 42 pts.
I played 1. Knight's Tale Ch. 2, 2. Elven warrior, 3. Bronze dragon, 4. F.T.Ch 3, 5. Sk. T, Ch. 3, 6. F.T. Ch. 1, 7. Sk T, Ch 1, 8. Elvin warrier, 9. Bard, 10. Castle, 11. Gold dragon. 12. D. T Ch 4. I played too many conditional cards thinking I could hit a grand slam home run, but only met one or two of the conditional cards for 39 pts.
Don then had an idea. Let's actually try to play this game with 7 people! Everyone is dealt 7 cards, play five of them and there are only two drafting rounds. That would mean two cards would be left out of the game. So we gave it a try.
Greg played Knight round table, Elven warrior, sword king, demon, Sk tale Ch 4, bard, Elven warrior, K.T. Ch 4, Fairy Queen, MF for 37 pts. I think the key was getting the sword king and knight's tale ch 4 for 12 pts total, and I think he met his other conditional card.
Jean played COD, Dragon's lair, D.T. Ch 1, silver dragon, dwarven warrier, spirit of the spring, COD, silver dragon, dragon's lair, magic circle of chaos for 27 pts.
Trevor played homesteader, homesteader, COD, COD, castle, COD, COD, COD, homesteader, homesteader for 25 pts. Now Trevor had a neat idea here. Collect all those common ones that count the square of the number that you collect, since it looks like everyone is not picking them up and passing them by. If he managed to get five of CODs and five of homesteaders, that would have been 50 pts. Now Trevor had two or three cards that were closed, from his castle and demon affects, otherwise his score would have been higher. Many times, everyone would complain about seeing a homesteader or COD or MF come by, but you have to start collecting them to earn points.
Gary played Demon, SD dragon, vampire, dwarven warrior, dwarven warrior, SD-dragon, Fairy Ring(?), F.T Ch 1, spirit of the spring and demon for 25 pts.
Don played castle, dragon's lair, fairy king, staff bearing sage, dark angel, gold dragon, werewolf, dragon's lair, Sk T Ch 2, spirit of spring (SOS). for 25 pts.
I played MF, fairy ring, MF, D. T ch 4, Knights round table, MF, MF, bronze dragon, SD dragon, K.T ch 3 for 21 pts since one of my MF was closed by Greg's turn 3 vampire.
JP had elven warrior, Fairy ring, F. T. ch 3, silver dragon, staff bearing sage, dark angel, skylance dragon, bard, bard, almighty for 14 pts.
We all agreed that it sort of worked with 7 players, so we played a few more games.
Greg played dwarven warrior, dragon's lair, demon, silver dragon, SD dragon, SD dragon, dwarven warrior, gold dragon, K T, ch 3 for 38 pts. The two dwarven warriors with the two SD dragons accounted for 18 pts, and I think he met the knight's tale for 8 pts as well.
I played fairy ring, castle, fairy ring, SOS, sword king, SOS, F. T. ch 2, staff bearing sage, K.T ch 2, bronze dragon for 34 pts. The cards I got dictated I try to play castles or fairy ring ( 6 pts, but close one of your own cards), then play SOS or staff bearing sage (1 pt but open one of your closed cards), then try to earn the bonuses from the Ch 3 conditions. It worked to a certain extent for 34 pts, but my last card played earned me 0 pts.
Gary played elvin warrior, MF, MF, bard, D.T ch 3, MF, MF, SOS, homesteader, castle for 31 pts.
JP played dragon's lair, demon, silver dragon, D.T ch 2, SD dragon, silver dragon, D. T ch 1, werewolf, siller dragon, SOS for 30 pts.
Jean played homesteader, homesteader, knight round table, almighty, elven warrior, knight round table, homesteader, homesteader, fairy queen, KT ch 4, used the almighty to satisfy the condition of the Knights tale to earn 28 pts.
Trevor played MF, elven warrior, Sk T. ch 1, SK ch 3, F. T ch 3, ?? Ch 1, cstle, knight round table, SD dragon, dark angel for 27 pts.
Don played dragon's lair, fairy king, SOS, werewolf, vampire (got hunted), F.T ch 4, F.T ch 1, vampire, dark angel (got hunted), Sk T. ch 2 for 11 pts. The lesson Don learned here (which I would re-learn in the next game) is that playing many black cards near the end to open up your cards or mess with other players is that there is big risk of getting them closed., especially in a game with many players.
Game 3 with 7 players: Jean played homesteader,knight round table, castle, bronze dragon, dragon's lair, knights round table, COD, DT ch 2, silver dragon, silver dragon for 34 pts. This time the set collecting strategy of castle (6 pts) , silver dragon (1 pt) and ch 2 (7 pts) worked.
Don played homesteader, knight round table, D.T. ch 3, fairy queen, MF, homesteader, gold dragon, SOS, K.T ch 3, silver dragon for 33 pts. Don was able to earn the ch 3 bonus for 8 pts.
Gary played MF, MF, almighty, K. T ch 4, D.T. ch 4, fairy ring, fairy ring, F. T. ch 1, dark angel, dragon's lair for 31 pts.
Greg played elven warrior, bard, knights round table, SD dragon, homesteader, bard, bard, sword king, SOS, elvein warror for 31 pts.
Trevor played castle, Sk T ch 1, Sk T ch 3, Sk T ch 2, vampire, SOS, Knight round table, demon, castle, dark angel for 30 pts.
JP played bronze dragon, SD dragon, knights round table, dwarven warriors, elven warriors, bronze dragon, bronze dragon, D.T ch1, SOS, fairy ring for 24 pts.
I played MF, magic circle of chaos, F. T ch 2, MF, magic circle of chaos, Sk T ch 2, werewolf (closed), werewolf (closed), demon, vampire for 14 pts. I did not learn the lesson that an all black strategy does not work well with a large number of players.
Last game: Gary played SD dragon, bronze dragon, vampire, MF, MF, MF, MF, MF, MF, MF (!!). If you are reading this, it is not a typo, Gary did collect all 7 mischievous fairies for 49 pts for a score of 54 pts. In the second drafting round, he was passed consecutives MFs! Up against the wall, mischievous fairy!
Jean played castle, castle, dark angel, fairy ring, SOS, fairy ring, SOS, F. T ch 2, castle, demon, dark angel for 38 pts and probably had a winning score for 7 players if not for Gary's aberration.
Trevor played K.T ch1 , castle, SOS, D.T. ch 2, SD dragon, K. T ch 2, bard, bard, magic circle of chaos, elven warrior for 34 pts.
I played DT ch 1, bronze dragon, knight round table, COD, homesteader, COD, homesteader, homesteader, dragon's lair for 32 pts.
JP played dwarven warrior, knight round table, bronze dragon, almighty, dwarven warrior, knight round table, bronze dragon, knight round table, fairy ring, SOS for 27 pts.
Greg played SD dragon, dwarven warrior, homesteader, SOS, Staff bearing sage, elven warrior, elven warrior, bard, dwarven warrior, silver dragon for 25 pts.
Don played COD, fariy queen, F.T ch 4, COD, K.T. ch 3, COD, COD, COD, bard, K.T ch 3 for 24 pts.
Summary: Fairy Tale does work with 7 players. Some quick observations from these games about strategy 1) collect the 7 common cards in one suit, 2) collect the 6 pt cards that close one of your own, then open them back with the 1 pt card, then try for the chapter 2 bonuses 3) mixture of the two, including to try for ch 3 or ch 4 bonuses. 4) The black cards seem to be quite risky and most of them almost seemed to get hunted. Pretty quick fun game.