We were taken completely by surprise when our door bell rang and the delivery man had this package in his hand. When we opened the package, it was like Christmas came early. We were so happy when this colorful box greeted us! A big thank you to Diemension Games for supporting us with this review copy. Now as I am writing this review, it is important to know that this game is currently still on Kickstarter. This can mean that the rules of the gameplay or components may be different than the final product.
How to Play.
The setup in this game is quite easy. Each player picks a character, see if there are any special setup rules, take three level one attack/ defense/ movement cards, and the three starter cards of your character. This will leave you with a starting deck of twelve cards. Each character starts with an amount of health and a set spot for the epic treshold tracker. You can find this on the character sheet. Place the defense and power tracker on zero.
For the player board you take nine relic cards and place them between the two players. If you play with relics, simply place them face up. This will be your player board and the spaces where your character can move.
Make sure all the basic cards level one/two/three are sorted and your character cards are sorted accordingly to your character sheet. You will be able to buy these cards trough the game to develop your card deck.
Now you are ready to play. The first player will begin with four cards the second with six. After the first round you will always take six cards from your deck. If there are not enough cards, you shuffle your discard deck. There are four phases, the beginning phase, refresh phase, activation phase and ending phase. At the beginning phase, simply solve every game effect that should be resolved at the beginning of your turn in any order, for example with ongoing effects. In the refresh Phase discards all the cards you had left in your play area and reset your defense to zero.
Then comes the activation phase. Here you can play a basic card, skill card, epic card, relic card, power up action, or character special component action. When you play a basic card, you can attack, move or put your defense up according to the level of the card, every time you play a basic card you also gain power. The higher the level of the card, the more power you will gain. With power you can buy new cards for your deck, this is the power up action. If you buy a card, you always take the top card from the pile you choose and put it in your discard pile. You can use it the next time you shuffle. A skill card is played together with a basic card. For example the card ‘Crack shot’ from Red riding hood shows an attack icon on the card. This means you have to sacrifice one attack card from a level you choose to play your skill. A lot of skills will hit harder if you play them with higher level cards, but you will not gain power from them. You can also choose to focus, this will skip your entire activation phase. If you focus, you can destroy one card from your hand or discard pile, this can come in handy if you have many weak cards. When you have lost so much health that your health tracker exceeds your epic tracker, you can secretly choose one of the three epic cards for your character and immediately place it in your hand. Your epic cards are as the name already says, quite powerful and can help you defeat your opponent. If you play with relics, you can once per turn discard a skill card in your hand and use a relic card on the spot where your character stands. Relic cards gives bonuses like searching for cards from your discard pile or even regenerate some health. If you use them wisely, they can put you on the upper hand.
After the activation phase comes the ending phase. Here you reset your power to zero, discard all your cards if you have any left, discard the cards in your play area unless those with ongoing effects (those will be resolved at the beginning phase), draw six new cards and resolve any effects that need resolving at the end of your turn. If you have used a relic card, you also place a new relic card on the empty spot on the player board.
The game ends when one players health is fully depleted.
Playthrough of the game.
It takes a couple of rounds to really learn this game, to see what your characters can do and how best to play them. But once you are in the flow of the game, Twisted Fables is so much fun and can be played in so many ways. Because you shuffle your deck every time, you need to think what cards you are going to buy so the chance to get them will be the highest. Some characters maybe develop really strong overtime but are weak in the beginning and other characters can start out strong but could be overshadowed by other players later. You can replay Twisted Fables many many times and every fight will be different because each character is different.
What we also really like about this game is that it is focused on two players instead of more. There is constant interaction between the players instead of just focusing on growing your character. You need to think what your opponent is going to do and act on it so you won’t lose health or lose an opportunity. There aren’t many deck builder games or many board games at all that are so well made for two players and has so much interaction between the players. It just works. The gameplay itself also isn’t to long at all. The more you play Twisted Fables, the faster you get and the shorter each game will take. If you want to get to know the characters better, the developers took the time to create a new twisted story for each character along with some advice and tips on how to play each character well at the end of the rulebook. We think this fits really well and brings everything together.
If you like to play deck builder games with a lot of interaction and strategic thinking between two players, you’re going to love Twisted Fables. If not for that, the art and characters will pull you in. Like I said in the beginning, Twisted Fables is on Kickstarter now, so by the time you are reading this, it might look a little different. I wonder how many amazing things Diemension Games are still going to add to this game.