Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tales of the Arabian Nights Board Game Review

Enter the mystical world of sultans, viziers, efreets and princesses as you become a legendary hero in Tales of the Arabian Nights. Take on the role of characters such as Aladdin, Ali Baba, Sindbad and Scheherazade. Adventure through Arabia and the rest of the world, and recreate your own legends and myths. Relive the One Thousand and One Nights as you journey over, sideways and under on a magic carpet ride!
Tales of the Arabian Nights is an interesting board game in that it doesn't really have a strong strategy or "thinking" component to it. It can instead be considered a tool to experience entertaining stories as your characters grow from their humble beginnings to become heroes, sultans or powerful magicians. As such, a requirement for playing the game is the ability to use your imagination to create wondrous encounters, and the ability to laugh at the misfortunes that are bound to come your way (a few drinks and a comfy playing area can help too)!

The game begins with every player's character starting as a poor nobody in the bustling capital of Baghdad. You can choose some of the most popular Arabian heroes as your character: from Aladdin and Ali Baba to Sindbad and Scheherazade. You also get to choose what skills your character possesses. These can range from standard RPG skills such as luck, weapon use and magic; to more exotic skills like seduction, piety and storytelling (So you can make Aladdin a seductive, lucky and pious man if you really wanted to). These skills will help you overcome obstacles and alter the course of events during your adventures.
You will also need to choose how you want to win the game. Each player has to secretly choose any combination of Story and Destiny points totaling 20 to be his goal. Your choice will depend on what kind of adventures you prefer to have. Non-violent tales usually provide Story points, while swashbuckling and magic-slinging adventures usually give you Destiny points. Each player also gets a random Quest that gives you a specific task to complete. These quests are usually epic in scale and might require you to visit exotic locations in the Far East or bring a prized artifact back to Baghdad. Completing the quests will provide you with benefits and victory points, and perhaps a treasure or two as well!
During their turn, each player moves their character to a new location, either on their way towards a particular destination, or just in search of adventure. The distance they can travel (both land and sea) will depend on how rich they are. After all, a wealthy prince will be able to afford a bigger, faster boat than a pauper. Once they have moved, they will need to draw an encounter card. This is where unexpected adventures will unfold, altering the characters' journeys, and sometimes altering the characters themselves as well.
You might encounter an interesting character, for example a vizier. What happens during the encounter will depend on the time of day (ie. how far into the game you are). Things get more dangerous (and perhaps more romantic) during the night. The encounter card will direct you to a specific paragraph in the great Book of Tales. This Book of Tales contains every story and adventure in the game. Each paragraph in the book contains a different story and result depending on what choices you make and what skills you have (think the old Choose Your Own Adventure books, but on a much grander scale). So your encounter with the vizier might lead you to a romantic encounter with him, or get you locked up in jail for trying to pick his pockets!
You can also encounter more random things, such as freak storms, whirlpools and even magical oases. The encounter card will direct you to an encounter matrix. A roll of the dice (modified by things such as your Story and Destiny points) will determine exactly what you will encounter. You will also be given a set of 8 responses you can make which will determine which paragraph in the Book of Tales that will affect you. For example, encountering the freak storm might give you the option to pray, hide, cry, wait or drink. As you can probably guess, picking certain responses will produce more entertaining and fun stories than others! Players take turns to move and experience these encounters, and the first player to achieve their pre-determined victory point combination will win the game.
There is practically no strategy involved in the game, other than the basic decision of deciding where to go to complete your quests. You also do not have much control over what happens in the encounters. For example, drinking during the freak storm might not sound like a smart decision, but it might make you pass out and wake up in a magical kingdom under the sea! Likewise, having the "weapon use" skill might make you think that helping a merchant fend off bandits is a good idea, but it might end up with the merchant robbing you while you are busy fighting.
The game is first and foremost a storytelling and adventure game, and you will enjoy it immensely if you throw caution to the winds and immerse yourself in the world of the Thousand and One Nights. The game might take a while to finish though, especially if you are playing with 5 or 6 players. But if you bring your funny accents and over-the-top acting, and are prepared to laugh at your own misadventures, you will really enjoy the Tales of the Arabian Nights!
Complexity: 2.0/5.0
Playing Time: ~ 2.5 hours
Number of Players: 1 to 6 players
You can read more about Tales of the Arabian Nights at http://boardgames.gamepudding.com/r/tales-of-the-arabian-nights.html
Steven maintains the board game review website at http://boardgames.gamepudding.com/ - a website devoted to the best and latest board and card games. You can read game reviews and customer comments via this website.
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