Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 18 January 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Fog of Love

Game: Fog of Love

Publisher: Hush Hush Projects

Designer: Jacob Jaskov

Year: 2017

Fog of Love casts two players as two halves of a couple, living out a romantic comedy through a series of short snippets or scenes within their lives. When you first meet you will know very little about each other, but over the course of the game, the way you each deal with different situations will start to give you insights into each others personality, until ultimately you decide if you should stay together or break up.

Fog of Love, was a Kickstarter campaign, designed by one man for his wife, with the goal of designing a board game his wife would actually like to play. His wife, who did some of the art and graphic design for the game, explains that she loves romantic comedies, so that was the theme that Jacob Jaskov chose. Since the Kickstarter the design of the game has improved massively and the final production is a beautiful game, with a similar stark white style to T.I.M.E Stories. The base game contains an introductory scenario and 3 further scenarios and expansions are planned to provide more content.

In Fog of Love, you start the game by designing your characters, selecting cards from a limited choice from different decks. You pick three personality traits, an occupation, and then the other player chooses three physical attributes that they first noticed about you. Here is where you start roleplaying - telling the other player what you first found attractive. You then come up with your name and introduce yourself, but not giving away your traits specifically. The game proceeds in chapters where you will play a different number of scene cards. So far it seems that scenarios start of with drawing scenes from the 'sweet' deck, but then you'll later be forced to draw from the 'serious' or 'drama' deck as the relationship hits rocky ground or progresses to events like marriage or buying house.

On your turn you select an event from your hand to play. Typically there will be a question for one or both players to answer. Normally the consequences of secretly selecting a matching answer is that your satisfaction stats will increase. However, when you are choosing your answer you need to consider whether the answer aligns correctly with the personality traits of your character. One of the main objectives of the game is typically to fulfill these traits. Your ultimate goal is to fulfill your destiny - which you will select from a starting hand over the course of the game. Some destinies resemble a happily ever after where you both stay together and are equally happy, but others are more selfish where you must stay together but you have a lot more satisfaction or happiness than your partner. Other destinies result in a break up.
Some of the different events
My main challenge in reviewing Fog of Love is the question of whether this is a 'game' or just an experience or activity. My questions are; 
  • Can you win? - Sometimes.
  • Is it cooperative or competitive? - You have no idea at the start of each game! You simply play to win and hope you know how the other player is thinking when they select objectives?
  • Is the purpose of the game winning? - Probably not. In fact, sometimes playing for 'stats' is counter to the story you are building and it feels like the story should be the priority.
  • Is it an RPG? - I guess in as much as you are roleplaying.
  • So what is it? - Couples therapy in a box?
Choosing different answers probably means you'll both lose some satisfaction, but you might advance in your traits.
I'm still confused about Fog of Love, but what I do know is that I'm enjoying playing it. I'm pretty surprised that it's enjoyable for me, because I really don't get along with roleplaying games and story telling. I think the strength of Fog of Love is that you're playing completely relatable people, rather than fantasy characters and you don't have to invent any situations, unless you want to elaborate on what the cards give you.It's really enjoyable to play as a couple, so long as you make sure you create characters who don't too closely reflect yourselves! I particularly enjoy trying to distill down some of the goals into the concept of 'getting away with being a horrible person' and ensuring that I select some personality traits to match.

There's certainly some drawbacks with Fog of Love. At times I find myself trying to decide whether to follow the story of the game or simply select a card because mechanically it gives me the best options to satisfy my end game goals. I also find that you very quickly start to see the same events in each game you play, so the surprise value diminishes. Each new scenario you open adds a few new cards, but not enough to overcome the frequency of repeats. For this reason, in spite of the fact that Fog of Love is definitely replayable, I imagine that personally I'll only want to play each scenario once. Frustratingly, Fog of Love will sit on my shelf seeing no play time until expansions are released, much like T.I.M.E Stories.

My final thought is about who I would recommend the game to. Because of its themes, Fog of Love is definitely for adults only. I think that couples are definitely the right audience, or perhaps close friends. In both categories it needs to be for people who aren't going to take themselves too seriously. It's definitely not a game for gamers who want to play something mentally challenging, it's more of a memorable experience and an interesting way to pass an evening. Knowing all of this, I can think of lots of my friends, particularly those not heavily into the hobby, who would really get a kick out of this game and I'm hoping I can lend it to some of them whilst I wait for expansion content in 2018. For the Yellow Meeple, Fog of Love has been a really interesting experience that I give a 7/10.

Fog of Love was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £47.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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