Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Played Lately: Tales Of The Arabian Nights

  • When it comes to games, any kind of game, I came become strangely fixated on something new. I read about it, download documents, seek out descriptions of play, things like that. Since I don't have the opportunity to do a lot of gaming that doesn't involve a computer, it's a way for me to partake in that culture without actually playing anything. One such game that I recently obsessed over was Tales Of The Arabian Nights.

  • I first learned about the game on BoardGameGeek, which is a deadly labyrinth that has trapped many a board gamer. The goal of the game is simple: you roam the known world to seek fame and fortune, denoted by story and destiny points. As you wander, you run into various personages, visit foreign cities, and discover wondrous locales like the City of Brass or the Jeweled Fortress. But where the game diverges from the norm is because of the Book of Tales. Much like a choose your own adventure book, each encounter in the game directs you to a paragraph in the book to determine the outcome of your actions.

  • It is not a game in the traditional sense. There are victory conditions and decisions you can make attempt to achieve your goals. But decisions are entirely arbitrary as there is little indication for what a potential outcome might be before you choose what to do. The real joy in the game comes from the group storytelling that happens. You aren't reading these sections to yourself. Instead, another player reads the sections describing how the encounter unfolds. How much the reader gets into the performance is directly responsible for how much fun you have with the game. And there are lots of laughs to be had as any number of unfortunately circumstances can befall the players.

  • I played the game with my parents and my brother while I was visiting for Christmas last year. My father is very competitive player, so I wasn't sure how well he would take to the game. My mother enjoys trying new things (she even has her own Guild Wars account because she likes how the game looks) so I wasn't too worried about her. And my brother is a little like my father, but he's a gamer at heart. We each took a token and set out to explore the world. I had to lead a way, really trying to get into the storytelling role, and the others picked up on it pretty well. Amazingly enough, although my father had the worst things all happen to him, he was still able to win the game. I guess the moral of the story is that adversity really does build character. Best of all, we had a good time, even if it ran long on our first try.

  • Tales Of The Arabian Nights was a very different experience, and one I'm really happy that I got to try. Even though the book is huge, I worry that could become predictable and repeatative after too many plays. And everyone has to be in the mood for a chaotic, story oriented experience. So it will remain a when-the-fancy-strikes game, instead of an every-game-night game.

  • For those of you who like to peek behind the curtain, I started writing this post in January 2010 almost a month after I played the game. I haven't had the chance to play it since. And although it took seven months to finish, this is only the third oldest post in my queue. Have fun, everyone!

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

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