What would you do if one day your young self would wake up from a vision about the end of the world? This is exactly what happens in Threetale to three young heroes. They don’t know precisely what will happen, but they do know they have to prepare the best they can before the future gets here. In this cooperative game you will start in the past and work your way up to the future. Will you maximize your strength, or speed? Maybe you will focus on helping others or try to restore your faith. But as the future nears fast, you have no choice but to work together and try to survive.
How to play.
For the setup, make sure the map tiles are placed on the table together with all quest, treasure and battle cards separated according to their level. Also place the artifacts, bonus cards and tokens on the table. Place the cubes and dices nearby and draw three prophecy cards. Study those prophecies as one will come true later in the game. Choose your heroes depending on the prophecies. If you play solo or with two players, you still have to pick three heroes. Make sure you take the corresponding hero boards and miniatures and place white cubes in all highlighted places on the hero board. Each hero also starts with three spirits (blue cubes) at the top of the hero board. Decide what hero goes first and begin building your best self.
You will find yourself starting from the past phase for half of the game. This phase is to prepare your heroes as best as possible for the future that is coming. Keep the three prophecies in mind to make sure you pick the right skills to level up.
On your turn, pick a tile and place it anywhere adjacent to previous placed tiles. The first tile can be placed anywhere and your hero will start there. After placing a tile, see if any tokens should be placed like quest tokens, treasure tokens or white or red cubes for example. Then you can move your hero as many steps as your speed level and take one action. You can move through portals for one movement. All the icons on the tiles are actions you can take. You could pick up a virtue (white cube) by stepping on it. This cube allows you to level up one of your virtues. Each hero has six virtues that can be leveled up. Love is the virtue that shows how many dices you may roll in combat, hope let’s you change dice in your benefit and faith let’s you draw bonus cards to grant additional virtue levels in battle. Then you have endeavor that allows you to take more actions when leveled up, endurance that let’s you level up virtues at the end of your turn and lastly mercy that let’s you add virtues to other players at the end of your turn.
So while the white cubes that you can pick up level up one of those six virtues of your choice, the shevitsa (red) cubes allows you to gain skills. Each hero has six skills and can choose three once your shevitsa is fully leveled up. You reach your first skill after two shevitsa cubes and can choose the left or right skill. Skills can give heroes many benefits like gaining virtues or artifacts for example. You can also come across speed (black) cubes on the map. If you pick up a speed cube, you gain one speed. If you want to open a treasure, beware of the consequences as not all treasures are easy to open or come without risk. If you stand on a treasure icon, take a treasure card with the matching level. Roll three dices and check the results on the treasure card. You can always influence dices with your hope virtue if you have enough hope to better the outcome. Quests are tokens you can also encounter on the map. If you stand on a quest token, pick a quest card and try to complete it. Note that you can only complete quest cards in the past phase. You can also come across an altar where you place an offering token. This allows you to pick up the token, give it to another player adjacent from you and you will gain an artifact from that player. If you have a strong enough hero, you can battle once you step on a battle token. Draw a corresponding battle card with the matching level and try to defeat your enemy. If you survive, you might be well rewarded.
The one who has the most speed will start the battle. If your enemy has more speed then you, he will strike first and throw dices according to his strength level. Don’t forget to take bonus cards for your faith level as they can still give you more speed. For each positive dice, you will get one hit and you have to decrease one of your virtues by one. If you want to escape, you can use one of your spirits to leave the battle. If all of your spirits are used, your hero dies and everyone loses the game. You can also use spirits to prevent any incoming damage. If it’s your turn to strike, throw dices according to your love level. Also add any bonus cards if drawn. For every positive dice, you strike your opponent once and decrease their defense level. If you have done damage equal to their defense level, you have defeated your opponent and have earned the reward found on the battle card. If you have any artifacts that can help during battle, don’t forget to use them. While level one enemies already are no easy task, level two enemies will also draw bonus cards and level three enemies even have unique talents.
Once every tile has been placed, the future begins. The future is played with mostly the same rules as in the past, but some scenarios might have exceptions or additions. All previous token are also discarded. The cubes, quests, combat and treasure tokens. The future also comes with different cards and objectives that will be different per scenario. However, each scenario will have aiding object cards that can provide rewards, conditional object cards that may provide something but will need a condition in order to receive it, and lastly hostile objects. All of those objects will be different depending on the scenario you unpack. To start the future phase, Randomly pick one of the three scenarios that were chosen during the setup. After revealing, read the card and scenario in the future book carefully. The future book will tell you what happened, what you need to do and how much time you have. In the matching scenario box, you will find all extra components you need. You win the game if you all survive and complete the objectives given in the scenario.
Playthrough of the game.
It wasn’t until the future caught up with us that we saw just how important the past is and we realized we were in big trouble in this future for our first game. We had tried to fight a level one battle in our past and lost since that character wasn’t strong enough. So instead we focused on getting treasures and virtues to level up. We struggled with deciding what to focus on and didn’t divide the tiles and virtues enough amongst the characters. This resulted in one overpowered character and two relative weak ones. We figured, it’ll be fine, he can just take it’s time and defeat all that needs defeating. But we lost hope when we saw we would lose tiles on every turn in the future and had to complete the objective before all the tiles were lost. You can imagine this ended in a huge disaster and we did not survive our future. In our second game we were determined to make up for it and focused on dividing the tiles better and leveling up every character in the correct way. We also took the time to earn abilities from our shevitsa which turned out to be very powerful. Even though we still did not complete our objective in the second game, we improved a lot and scored much more points then in the first game. Guess three times is the charm right?
Even though we still did not complete the scenario in every game we have played so far, we still had so much satisfaction in building and developing our characters and thinking about the best strategies. You really need to cooperate and think where to place the tiles you draw, who will pick up that treasure or battle and who might need some extra virtues to become evenly strong. Timing is everything and even more essential in the future. We noticed that the second half of the game always has drastic changes to the rules and gameplay, but also the story is well thought off and just fits with every scenario. That being said, this game is definitely not easy. The enemies in the first half can already be hard to beat, but the enemies we have faced so far in every future, were always stronger than our characters. Since you lose virtue for every hit you receive, you want to strike your enemy hard and fast so your character doesn’t get set back to much. For us, the first half of the game is very fun and satisfying, but we found the second half sometimes to punishing or frustrating. Even though there are a lot of strategic choices you can make to help you in battle and in your objectives, there is still a lot of luck involved. We have had battles where you will have the maximum amount of dices to use in battle with your leveled up character, but the enemy will just have what you have plus two more dices for example. Since you can only change maximum three dices with a leveled up character, if you have a lot of bad luck with rolling, you will just always take many hits and lose virtues. The rewarding part about the whole game is, you will still score points even if you lose, which gives you the opportunity to always try again and improve your score. That being said, thankfully a lot of scenarios are also about mobility and less about fighting.
Threetale is a tile placement fantasy themed game where you build your heroes in the past to fight the enemies in the future. In the past you build your own map one tile at the time and discover all enemies and treasures the past has to give. We found the past phase the most fun and satisfying from the game each time. In the second half, the game will drastically change and you will have to complete the scenario the future gives you. Every scenario has a well constructed background story and fitting art. We found that no matter how well your characters are developed, this game is not easy and the future can be hard and punishing. After more then a couple of games now, we have only survived two scenarios so far and every decision you make is important for you and the other characters. If you don’t fully cooperate or don’t communicate enough, you will fail and score less points. All board gamers who like to cooperate and are not afraid of a challenge, have to try this game out.