Designers: Matthew Dunstan & Brett J. Gilbert
Duration: 20 min.
You open the first page to the book, and read in amazement. But.. to go to the next page, you must watch the event unfold before your very eyes: the dragon files above you all the way across the kingdom to meet the princess as the knight watches from afar. When he meets her, the page is complete, and a new chapter unfolds… will you finish your story before your opponents?
Fairy Tile is a tile laying/movement game with a bit of a storytelling element to it. You will move the Princess, the Knight and the Dragon across the land you and your opponents create and place them in strategic locations based on the story cards you have, and the first person to read their story is the winner. Do you have what it takes to be the first to complete your book?
What’s in the box?
Inside the box there are 15 double-sided land tiles (3 starting tiles and 12 regular), 36 page cards, 4 player aids, 4 wooden Magic tokens, and 3 figures (Knight, Princess and Dragon). All the components are in a nice molded insert that holds everything
First of all… if you haven’t already noticed, the are in this game is STUNNING. The artist, Miguel Coimbra (who also did 7 Wonders and 7 Wonders Duel) did an amazing job. The best way I can describe the art is its the best looking animated move that never got made… everything is vibrant and well detailed. The cardboard for the tiles is nice and sturdy, and the cards feel thick. And those minis… they’re awesome quality and they’re painted! Seriously some of the best components of any game I’ve ever played.
So how do you play?
To begin the game, take the 3 starting tiles and place them so that the river is connected. The makes the starting kingdom. Place the 3 figurines on their respective spaces on their starting spaces. Each player receives a magic token and places it face down. Then, shuffle the remaining 12 tiles and place them in a stack accessible to everyone. Then, take the 36 page cards and deal them equally between players (18 in a 2 player game, 12 in a 3 player game and 9 in a 4 player game). Each player makes a face-down stack and draws their first card and secretly looks at it and keeps it in their hand. It’s important not to look at the rest of your cards yet, as you’ll see them later.
During your turn, you will have 2 actions you can choose from: Develop your story or Turn a page. When you choose to develop a story, you go on an adventure and do one of 2 actions:
- Add a tile: take the top tile of the stack and without turning it over, add it to the kingdom. It must touch a least 2 continuous edges, and if you place it next to a river space, it must continue the existing river. If there are no land tiles left, you cannot choose this action
- Move a character: Choose one character and move them. They all move in different ways: the knight must move exactly 2 locations away from his starting position, and cannot finish his movement on a space adjacent to his starting position. The princess may only move location over, but if she is on a castle or moves onto a castle, she may freely jump to another castle. The dragon flies in a straight line all the way to the edge of the kingdom, not stopping. He also cannot fly over any empty spaces.
Once you have finished your action, you can check if you were able to recount the adventure on your card. There are different objectives to each card: examples include that the dragon and knight must be on the same space on that turn, or that the princess can see the knight (be in their line of vision) or that the dragon must be in a large forest (a forest made up of 3 connected location spaces). If the objective of the card is met after the move a character action (you cannot recount the adventure after adding a tile), then you read aloud your page of the book, play it down in front of you and draw the next page from your stack.
But what if its nearly impossible to fulfill the objective on your card, or you want to draw another card? Then you can take the Turn the Page action instead developing your story. Take your current card and place it at the bottom of your stack, and draw the top card of your stack to get a new story. Then, take your magic token and flip it face up. If you have your magic token up, on a future turn when you go on an adventure, you may turn it back down to take a 2nd action, giving you 2 movements in one turn, which can really allow you to set yourself up to recount an adventure. You may turn the page even if your magic token is already up (it just lets you change your card) or even if you only have one card (allowing you to flip your magic token).
After you have taken an action, then the next player takes an action and so on. As soon as one player has recounted the adventure of their last card, they are the winner! The story cards all have a page number on the bottom corner, and you can put them in order and read the story you have created and know you are the best storyteller in all the realms (or at least at your table).
Is it any good?
I admit was initially drawn to Fairy Tile due to the art: Those vibrant colours just drew me in, and I just got it. Luckily for me, its more than just a pretty box. Fairy Tile is a fun family game where the rules are simple but theres quite a bit of tactics involved. I initially had skepticism about the movement and being able to move the characters in the right places, but as I played many times now I found that the game works better than I imagined. The option to turn a page and flip that magic token really helps set you up on the next few turns. I had moments where I thought I would never fulfill the objectives on my cards, and then in the next few turns I just recounted adventure after adventure. It can feel you’re never gonna win and be behind, then all of a sudden you just play card after card. There’s only ever been one time when the game ended and a player had more than 2 cards in their hand.
I’m really glad that Iello worked so hard on the production and the game has such a great theme. The gameplay is actually kind of abstract: when you have a game like that, it can still play well and feel kind of stale (looking at you Glüx), but Fairy Tile really immerses you in its world and draws you in with its gorgeously painted figures. Couples with really smart and engaging gameplay, it works well. And even when its not your turn, you are so engaged when someone else is adding a tile or moving a character because it affects everyone, that it doesn’t feel like there is any downtime.
It does have a few flaws. It’s really not a 2 player game at all. 2 player games feel like a tug of war, and just go on until someone gives up and does something else. At 3 and 4 players its amazing, but just doesn’t work as well with 2. And a minor flaw I already kind of mentioned, but sometimes you really have cards you can’t complete, and it is possible to get to your last card and not be able to fulfil it, which makes you instantly lose. The manual says it’s very rare (I’ve never seen it happen yet) but it would really be a letdown. Hopefully it never has to happen.
In the end, Fairy Tile is a really smart, quick, engaging and stunningly beautiful game. It plays smoothly and with little downtime, it keeps everyone involved and it’s tight until the end. Play it with 3-4 people, and everyone will have an amazing time!
- One of the prettiest and best produced games ever
- Fast gameplay that feels like it has no downtime
- Pulling off 2 actions in a row to get what you want feels good
- Feels like you fall behind, but its really fast to catch up
- Box says 2-4 players, but it really doesn’t work well at 2
- Sometimes you just get a card that really doesn’t work and it gets frustrating