In a world of dark magic, faeries and dragons, Fairy Tale pits players against each other for points.

Designed by Satoshi Nakamura, Fairy Tale uses the concept of card drafting and with it, certain actions or reactions that can change the game. If you’re an old school Magic the Gathering (MTG) player you may have heard of Nakamura-san, who was a renowned Japanese MTG professional in the early 2000s. No doubt this has influenced Fairy Tale’s design as I recognised a few elements.

The game itself lasts for 4 rounds. During each round, players draft a card before passing the pool to the next player. Depending on what cards they have drawn, some provide effects whereas others give huge points if conditions are met, among other things. There are 4 suites of cards: green represents the dragons, red are the faeries, yellow for the knights and black being the demons. Except for the black suite the others are essentially the same, the difference being their pictures just like a set of poker cards. While this game can be played between 2-5 players, it runs best at 4 players.

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The card’s value is on the top-left corner while its effect is on the top-right.  The tiny digits just above the value is the number of copies of this card in the entire deck. This is helpful when developing your strategy throughout the game, so you can draft the cards you actually need.

As for the gameplay itself, it’s fairly easy to pick up. The rules are clearly explained in the instructions sheet. After going through several rounds, I would say that there are a good number of strategies available and that the reactive cards keep players on their toes. Players have also developed tactics on “hate drafting”, which is essentially denying the next player the cards they need. Since different players have different draft strategies, there’s a lot of replay value to be found in Fairy Tale.

Overall the game is interesting with its varying draft strategies and game mechanics, but I would like to point out two cons. Firstly, there are cards which have conditions that are almost impossible to meet — making them near useless draft picks — but there are also those which are really easy to fulfill, making this game a bit imbalanced and luck-based. Another problem is that there are no tiebreakers, although that can be fixed with house rules.

I personally like Fairy Tale for its concept and replay value. The mechanics sets itself apart from other card games currently in the market. If you are looking for something new for your casual game group, then Fairy Tale would be a great addition.

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Designer: Satoshi Nakamura
Publisher: What’s Your Game?
No. of Players: 2-5
Playing Time: 30-60 Minutes
Ages: 8+

A personal copy was used for this review. You can buy Fairy Tale at Paradigm Infinitum.