Fairy Tale the card game review

Fairy Tale is a small card game released by ZMan games that has players develop their particular cast of characters through a deck building mechanic. While quite low on theme, the actual game play is fast ad furious and makes Fairy Tale a great filler card game.

Appearance: Fairy Tale is well designed and on great card stock, with images drawing from a more ‘anime’ themed background. That type of art appeals to me, though I know others who dislike that form of art, so be warned, it’s rather pervasive. Pretty much everything you need to know is on the cards themselves in well laid-out and distinctive icons, so picking up the game is pretty easy.

Rules / Ease of Learning: The main game mechanic in Fairy Tale is that of card-selection for each round. Players receive 5 cards at the beginning of each round and must choose one, passing the remaining cards to the individual seated next to them (left or right depending on the round). They must then continue choosing a card till all cards are selected. In the second phase of the round, all players play and reveal 1 card that turn, with any special abilities taking place at that time. There are only 3 major in-game abilities – Hunt, Unflip, Flip. Of the three, Hunt affects all cards played that turn while Unflip and Flip play out on all cards currently in-play.

Since only 3 of the 5 chosen cards are played in each round, players must decide how to balance their hands against potential aggressive moves by other players as well as gaining (or removing) the most number of points possible in each round. There are only 4 rounds in a game, with scoring occurring only at the end of the game. Points are scored for ‘active’ (or unclipped) cards that are in-play, with specific cards providing a conditional number of points. The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

Gameplay: Fairy Tales takes a different tack from other set-collection and card-drafting game, forcing players to work on their strategy one-hand at a time. While this creates a degree of ‘luck’ especially in the beginning hand, there are specific cards and strategies that begin to appear with repeated plays and as the game progresses. Certainly we found that more often than not, the decisions of which card to take were difficult. Each game we played showcased a series of denying actions, specific player targeting and blocking moves which ensured a highly interactive card game. This is an almost ‘opposite’ of Race for the Galaxy or San Juan where players are more focused on their own hands and gameplay area as there is little direct interaction.

With there only being 4 rounds and minimal issues to resolve when cards are played, the game flows very fast, especially with the right group. While ZMan estimated about 30-60 minutes, I would say that the estimate is on the high side. We found we finished games within 10 – 15 minutes.

Now, for the minor quibbles we had with the game. Initial explanation took longer than I would have liked, for what is really a very simple game. That’s partially because of how much information is attempted to be placed on the card. However, once you learn the symbols and play a round or two, it flows fast.

Secondly, luck is obviously an issue. In our games, we didn’t find it particularly onerous, but it is there. Partially touching on the luck issue, there seems to be a low number of cards(proportionally) that allow you to directly affect another player, which can be frustrating depending on the draw and player positions. It’s certainly not a major issue and could be due to game balance, but it did occur in a few games and few hands where no one was able (or perhaps willing) to affect another player beyond denying specific cards to a player through initial selection.

This might seem in contradiction to our earlier statement of more interaction; but it’s a matter of proportion. Compared to say Red Dragon Inn; another great filler card game, Fairy Tale has more depth but less ’damaging’ cards.

Conclusion: Fairy Tale is a fast playing card game that can be easily taught, highly portable and leaves players wanting more after they are done. While not introducing anything new, it makes for a great filler for your average game group with a good balance of interaction, luck and strategy.

The HST Debate

As some of you might know, the province is looking to (and will unless sufficient public outrage occurs) introduce HST to BC on July 1, 2010. This would make a number of services currently PST exempt chargeable for HST (i.e. adding a 7% tax to this).

Since PST is already charged on board games you buy and ship within BC, the HST change will not effect the price that customers will pay. So nothing really changes there.

On a business basis, it will actually reduce our cost since the 7% that we currently pay for for items like boxes, rent, packing tape, etc. can now be deducted from the HST we will collect.   That’s not necessarily a huge amount saved here – after all, we can only deduct the amount paid, which is not necessarily the same that we collect. Still, it will be a cost savings which will make it easier for us to carry more stock, pay ourselves a wage, maybe even reduce costs. It’ll certainly take a few months to play out before we can tell. So on a business basis, this sounds great.

On a purely personal basis, I know it’s going to affect my book buying habits a bit. Which is rather annoying. So overall, I’m going to sit on the fence and watch.

Finalists Announced for the 2009 International Gamers Awards

The International Gamers Awards committee has announced its finalists for the 2009 IGA for the multi-player and two-player “General Strategy” category and the Historical Simulations category: Multi-player category

Two-player category

Historical Simulations category

  • Barbarossa: Kiev to Rostov – Tony Curtis & Vance von Borries, GMT Games
  • Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Uwe Eickert, Academy Games/ElfinWerks/Phalanx Games
  • España 1936 – Antonio Catalan, Devir/Phalanx Games
  • Fields of Fire – Ben Hull, GMT Games
  • Red Dragon: The Coming War with China – Bruce Costello, Decision Games
  • Spanish Eagles – Brien J. Miller & Stephen C. Jackson, Compass Games
  • Storm over Stalingrad – Tetsuya Nakamura, Multi-Man Publishing
  • The Devil’s Cauldron – Adam Starkweather, Multi-Man Publishing
  • Unhappy King Charles! – Charles Vasey, GMT Games
  • Warriors of God – Adam Starkweather & Makoto Nakajima, Multi-Man Publishing

While the award timeline for “General Strategy” games as considered by the IGA is July 1 to June 30, the Historical Simulations committee judges games released in the previous calendar year, 2008 in this case.  For background on the committee members, as well as the winners and finalists in previous years, visit the IGA website.

July Bestsellers Updated

The Current Bestsellers list has been updated and as a comparison, here’s the best selling games in July.

1. Settlers of Catan

2. Small World

3. Race for the Galaxy

4. Pandemic

5. Bohnanza

6. Chinatown

7. Arkham Horror : Innsmouth Horror

8. Power Grid

9. Steam : Rail to Riches

10. Arctic Scavengers

In addition, here are the bestselling board games that were released in 2009 for the month of June.

Small World

1. Small World

2. Arkham Horror : Innsmouth Horror

3. Steam : Rail to Riches

4. Arctic Scavengers

5. Bang 4th Edition

6. Le Havre

7. Memoir ’44 : Tigers in the Snow

8. Red November

9. Space Alert

10. Carcassonne Big Box 2

Debt is good

One of the strangest thing that I’ve learnt as a small business owner of a board game store is that debt – owing people money – is good.  This is particularly interesting for me since I hate debt in my personal life, but for a corporation, perversely it can be very good.

There is two types of debt available for the most part, and how they can be good for a business is what I’m going to discuss.

Short term debt

Most commonly, short term debt comes from terms provided by your suppliers.  This could be anything from advertising agencies or websites to distributors.  The longer your terms, the better as you are able to (hopefully) recoup the expense via revenue generated before you have to pay out.

So if you consider it in terms of game distributors, a 30 day term gives you 30 days to sell all those games you purchased and then pay back your distributor.  Simplified greatly, if you receive a 100% margin on your board games, you only need to sell half of your order in 30 days to actually have the revenue to pay your distributor.

Oh, another form of short term debt is the Line of Credit or overdraft facility; a very useful feature to help deal with short-term cash flow issues.  If you recall my discussion about cashflow earlier, you can see how having a line of credit to deal with bumpy patches will come in very handy.

Long term debt

Long term debt generally comes in two forms for small business owners – shareholder loans (i.e. your personal loan to the company) and bank loans.  Now, your shareholder loan is rather obvious but something worth noting is that in the event of a bankruptcy, you are more likely to receive a portion of the assets remaining as payment for your loan first.  If you have shares, the remaining cash is paid out to shareholders (if any).  So it’s better to have a shareholder loan rather than actual shares of the same amount for this reason.  There are also good tax considerations that I’ll allow those with the expertise to mention.

Instead, I’ll focus on bank loans.  If you are a limited liability corporation, unless you guarantee the loan yourself, if you do default, the bank can only go after the assets of the company.  That provides you with a degree of personal safety when launching the corporation.

Also, loans can be used to do a number of things including consolidating short-term debt (e.g. if you are running balances on your credit cards) to decrease your overall debt servicing costs.

Lastly, loans can you give the capital to grow much faster than you would be able to by organic methods.  As an example, if you could use that money when you first launched to do an effective advertising blitz, you might be able to generate revenue faster.  Or you could use the loans to stock even more product, decreasing the number of ‘re-order points’ you have and providing even more choice for customers – ensuring you have something for everyone who comes in.

The Perversity of Business

Now here’s the really funny part of business. The time when you most need debt is during periods of change for the company (i.e. at launch or when you are growing to the next stage of your business).  However, these are the times when you are least likely to get loans. Generally, the more change there is, the more risk, thus the lower chance of being approved.

It’s kind of amusing really, but that’s life for you. Or business at least.

August Newsletter

Small Publisher Contest

Contest Winner Announcement
Our small publisher contest is over, and Richard Maxey at MaxVeld Games. In his own words…

So here are the results for the July small publisher contest featuring God Dice. There were many great entries from classic characters to really esoteric types but as it stands there can only be one winner. The character I chose as the winner is…drum roll please…

The Necromancer submited by Mike. The reason I chose this over the others is two fold. One; undead are just plain cool and having a character that can manipulate them is fun to play. Second; the Necromancer is a character that can actually be translated to God Dice with out having to add a God Die symbol on the already full 6 sided dice. How you ask? Well I will be posting this playable character on www.boardgamegeek at the God Dice page soon. Players will be able to make their own cards from the set of rules posted there and begin the undead beatdown.

Thanks for all the entries and the exposure. I truly appreciate it. By the way, if I had to choose a runner up it would have to be Cupid submited by Graham Greek. It’s just a great idea to have a chaotic love being.

Sale & New Review Contest

We have recently added a series of games to our sale items section, most of which are older games that we have an overstock of at the moment.

We’ve also decided to run a review contest that is going to be an on-going feature in the site. Winner of each monthly review contest on a random draw will receive a $20 gift certificate and be enterred into the final; end of the year draw for the Grand Prize of $250 of board games! So start writing your reviews now, since every review is a single chance to win.

Site Updates

There’s been a series of major site updates recently to reduce load time, so hopefully it’ll fix some of the major issues you notice.