Tell a Group Story With ‘StoryLine: Fairy Tales’

Reading Time: 5 minutes
Image: Asmodee Games
Image: Asmodee Games

Storytelling games are becoming more popular these days. Rory’s Story Cubes, Gloom, Tell Tale Fairy Tales, and The Storymatic Kids are only a few of the games that have gotten game players spinning yarns and creating original storylines. But if your kids prefer a bit more structure to their story creation, check out Asmodee‘s StoryLine: Fairy Tales.

Game Details and Instructions

Ages 8+
For 3-8 players
Game time 15-30 minutes

StoryLine is a bit of a cross between Rory’s Story Cubes and Apples to Apples. As a group, you work to create a compelling story (in this version, one of two fairy tale narrations) by taking turns being the narrator and flipping over the next of the 15 narration cards. Each narration card includes one or two “blanks” to be filled in with one of five types of Story Cards: Character, Place, Feature, Object, or Action. They are all color coordinated. The game ends when the 15th card, containing “The End” plus other text, is added to the story.

Image: Asmodee Games
Image: Asmodee Games

Game setup includes choosing which narration deck to use, having each player take one of each kind of Story Card, and turning all of the tokens face down. Whoever read a book last takes on the role of narrator first. That player then flips over the first Narrator Card and reads its contents. One or two of the Story Card types will be referenced. Every player except the narrator takes one of those Story Cards from the respective decks. Since the players already have one of each color of Story Card in their hand, they will now have two options for what to play. They place their choice(s) face down in front of the narrator, who will shuffle the cards and then choose the option(s) that they feel makes the most compelling story. The card is then placed next to the Narrator Card, forming a complete image of a book page. Whoever’s card(s) is/are chosen for that round receives a token, which they keep face down in front of them until the end of the game, when the scoring round occurs. The Narrator role then passes to the left.

Game play continues in this way until the Narrator Deck has been spent. If you choose, as we did, the group can then read the whole story all the way through. We found that we got a better feel for the complete story that way. Once your group is done enjoying your fairy tale, everyone flips over the tokens they have earned. Most tokens have values on them, but there are also four special tokens that have special effects.

  • The Old Boot: This token has no value or effect.
  • The Scales: The person with this token gets to decide who wins if there is a tie between or among players in token value. This is a real advantage if the person with The Scales is one of the tied players.
  • The Bear Trap: This person randomly puts one of their other tokens face down back in the general supply.
  • The Crown: This person takes two additional tokens from the general supply. They then flip those tokens over and resolve any special token effects.

The instructions also include a “family variant” which has each token just worth one point.

How Did We Like It?

The game is really straightforward and is quick and easy to learn for people of all ages. I figured it out in about five minutes and taught it to my family in another five. We all enjoyed picking interesting options for the story features, and ended up with a story I would actually want to read (complete with an evil cat and a grandma who cooks). I could even see playing with the game as a solo player, crafting the most interesting story possible, or the most traditional, or the most [fill in the blank].

A Narration Card plus a Story Card form the look of an open book. Photo: Jenny Bristol
A Narration Card plus a Story Card form the look of an open book. Photo: Jenny Bristol

The instructions encourage players to embellish the story as they go, giving characters names, adding more detail and adventure to the action, and opening it up to much hilarity. This can be great fun, though it does make it harder to recap the story afterward. The game includes many traditional fairy tape tropes and standbys, such as beans, wands, a dragon, a witch, and potion, but also includes some less common ones such as a mask, a bone, a desert, a hut, and being foul-mouthed.

We thoroughly enjoyed the game play. But we did find a few problems.

The instructions say to pass the pile of Narrator Cards around the table as that duty rotates, but we found it easier just to keep the pile in the middle of the table.

Since some of the cards have two spots for Story Cards and some only one spot, plus there are specifically 14 Narrator Cards with Story Card spots, the game can’t be balanced. If you have exactly seven players, the number of Narrator Cards are balanced, but the cards with double the Story Card spots are rarely evenly distributed. The opportunity to earn tokens is never or rarely even.

Also, the token scoring contains quite a bit of luck. Sure, you get a token for each card of yours that is chosen, but tokens contain different values, and because of the special effects tokens, when we played it took the win away from one player and gave it to another. We’ve pretty much decided to play with the aforementioned “family variant” from now on.

Since the game includes only a small number of materials (about two decks’ worth of cards plus some tokens), I found the box much larger than it needed to be. But the resealable bags for the cards were a nice touch. They help keep it all organized.

These are small quibbles, though. The point of this particular game is to have a good time while spending time with people you enjoy, creating something new together. StoryLine: Fairy Tales is a great option for playing with multiple generations and mixed groups, or for kids to play together. Since it’s quick and simple, I think this game will have a place in our regular game rotation for a long time to come.

Note: A copy of the game was provided for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.