Game Report: Tales of the Arabian Nights
by Dave Chalker
You can read my review of the game for a more in depth look. Players take on the role of a character in a mythical Arabian Nights setting. Each character has skills and other statuses that determine what the character can do. Characters go through encounters generated via the Book of Tales and try to obtain Story & Destiny points.
Players want to have fun encounters and experience all the interesting stories that the Book of Tales has to tell.
There are a number of rules that get further away from the core concept of experiencing stories and attempt to bring it more towards a strategy game. Really, it shouldn’t try to be a strategy game at all, though the victory conditions give the players motivation to keep going.
- Adventure game only. There are variants in the book for other types of play, mainly a merchant game and a quest game. Both of these add on extra mechanics that detract from the core of the game, so we never play them.
- Adventure deck. Normally the game has one big deck that has a mix of cards that cause adventures, city destinations, and special actions. It was always disappointing to have a turn where you didn’t have an adventure (especially with the amount of downtime in the game) so we made a deck that just had the adventures to guarantee you were having one on every turn. The destination cards had a useful purpose of giving incentive to explore the board, so we made it a separate deck, and each player always has one destination card. (When it is used, draw another one.) The special cards didn’t add anything, so we don’t use them. This has the emergent property that players go through the adventure deck quicker so that you’re more likely to have the “afternoon” and “night” encounters.
- Character sheet. Instead of having a limited number of skill chips for each skill, we use markers to show which skills we have. Before, you were limited to the number of skill chips in the game, which didn’t make sense from a thematic perspective.
- Shorter game. Usually, but not always, we play to 15 SP/DP instead of the suggested 20. This help prevents the game from going stale.
- Statuses. Many of the statuses end on the “Quest Solved” result on certain types of encounters, and this is difficult to remember in gameplay. We simplify it and say that any Quest Solved result fixes those statuses. However, the statuses remain a problem in game play, and we may try using “one status per player.” This is untested.
- Places of Power. The rules are unclear about these. The way we were taught you cannot enter these directly. We found that they are very tough to enter through other stories, and yet provide some of the most fun in the game. We allow anyone to walk into these Places of Power from the board and have the encounter there.
Tales of the Arabian Nights is a great game that provides hours of interesting stories for players to experience. By stripping out the not-so-fun strategy elements and focusing on the core of adventures, the game is improved dramatically.