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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Tuesday 13 March 2018

Fake news:- Paper Tales

Game: Paper Tales

Publisher: Catch Up Games

Designer: Masato Uesugi

Year: 2017

Paper Tales is a 2-5 player card drafting game in which you seek to build up your armies to conquer foreign lands, while producing resources to develop your own kingdom. Of course a lot of these activities are going to require coin, either to pay wages, or to purchase new land to build on, so you'll also have to ensure that your economy runs smoothly. Paper Tales is a short game, with each game lasting approximately 30 minutes.

Each game of Paper Tales consists of 4 rounds, each round consists of 5 phases, a drafting phase where you acquire new cards to play, a hiring phase where you choose which of the cards in your hand to place into your tableau, a war phase where you compare army strengths to score victory points, an income phase where you gain money, a building phase where you construct buildings, so long as you have the resources to do so, and finally an aging phase, where all your units get older and/or die. At the end of the 4th round the game ends and the player with the highest victory point total wins.

Paper tales set up ready for a two player game, each player receives a player aid and a set of the 5 buildings.

Drafting in Paper Tales is what you'd expect, take a card out of a hand of 5, pass along the rest of your hand, repeat until the hand is empty. In a two player game there is a slight variation; to give you a better selection each player has a hand of 9, and each round you choose 1 to keep and 1 to discard, this allows you to still see most of the cards over the course of a two player game. Once you have your hand of drafted cards you can start to hire them. You may hire 4 cards, 2 in the front row and two in the back row, typically only the creatures in your front row can fight, so it's best to put your armies up front, and your resource gatherers to the rear. The more powerful characters will often set you back some gold in order to play them, but are often well worth the investment.

Warring against other players is simply a comparison of numbers, if your armies strength is 6 and theirs is 5 then you will win and gain 3 victory points. In a two player game you can earn an extra 3 victory points if your armies are double the size of your opponents. Buildings are where a lot of the games strategy comes in, there are 5 buildings and each can be built at level 1 or level 2. Each building has an ability at each level, such as the keep providing extra military strength depending on your wood supply, or the town which produces extra resources, helping with future buildings. Each building requires you to have a certain amount of resources to build it, and a further amount to upgrade it to level 2, in addition you need to spend two gold per building you already own as a land tax. The first time you build a level 2 building you unlock a 5th slot to hire troops in, so aiming to do that in the first turn can be a huge difference.

There is a huge variety in cards, some are cheap, but useless in a fight, while others are expensive and powerful, but much rarer in the deck and often have caveats to their power

Most cards in Paper Tales can only survive 2 rounds, at the end of each round every card you have in play dies if it already has an age token on it, after that you add an age token to all still living cards. There are a few exceptions to the rules, some cards stick around a little longer, while others go into play "old". This works well to prevent players relying on one good card for the whole game, you might draft the perfect set of cards for a meat-heavy strategy in the first round, but unless you get lucky enough to find more cards then by round 3 your combo is naught but dust and bones.

Paper Tales is a really nice little drafting game, there are certainly some very interesting tactics in it that allow you to approach victory from several ways. Having said that some strategies did seem a little unbalanced in a two player game. Wars seemed weaker with only 3/6 points available per round (rather than 12 in a 5 player game), conversely a card which rewarded you for adding age tokens to it almost always seemed to be the kingmaker. There is definitely a lot of fun to be had from Paper Tales, it fills the middle ground between filler and short games which can be a useful length for a game to be. I don't foresee Paper Tales being a game that we play for a long time, even after a few plays it feels like most of the strategies have been explored. But while it is still new and fresh the games are great fun.


Paper Tales was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £29.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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