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DARK TALES  DVGames         SNOW WHITE

Components                                     Components

    

DARK TALES is a card game based in the world of make-believe and once-upon-a-time. SNOW WHITE
is an expansion of DARK TALES. Both are designed by Pierluca Zizzi (author of many board games, in
particular Caligula which was reviewed in Games Gazette, paper edition, a few years back) and both are
illustrated by Dany Orizio (Daniele is a renowned, and fantastic, artist who has designed cards for Magic,
Harry Potter and Dune TCGs. Check the work out on http://www.danyorizio.com/).

    

Despite the expansion and the artwork, which is totally amazing, and honestly it is virtually worth owning
the game(s) just for the illustrations, this is neither a collectible game nor a Magic the Gathering style clone.
It is in fact a clever game of building up a collection of cards that, with a little imagination, could itself be a
plot of a deeply dark Fairy Tale, whilst earning you Victory Points.

The game mechanic is as old as. . . .  well as olde as fairy stories themselves. Have a Hand of 3 cards, Draw a 
Card, Play a Card. There is a phase inbetween this Drawing and Playing where players can, if they have them, 
play a single item token. The effect of the Items depend on one or other of the Setting cards.

The game is not about card manipulation or trick taking as many card games are, instead it is all about combining
the effects and affects of cards from the Hand with the face up cards on display, beginning with the 2 cards that are
placed face up when the game starts. As cards are played they become part of the visible display and the story. As
cards are removed from the display so the Dark Tale evolves and changes.

       

You score points when you play cards and at the end of the game. The points available at the end of the game
depend on the cards you have in front of you compared to the B Setting card on display. The points you score
as you play your card depends on how it interacts with the A Setting card on display and possibly other face
up cards.

The Setting cards are marked A and B on their backs. In DARK TALES you shuffle the As and Bs separately,
randomly remove one of each A and B and replace the remaining Setting cards away, out of the game. In the
SNOW WHITE version the A card from the expansion is added to 2 of the 3 basic game cards and one drawn
randomly - thus there is only a 1 in 3 chance of the expansion card from SNOW WHITE being drawn. For the
B cards there are three in the basic game, one of which is called "The Iron Army". There is a similarly named
card in the expansion which replaces the one from the basic game; again there is a 3 to 1 possibility that the B
card drawn will be from the expansion.

Apart from the scoring possibilities on the A and B cards the combination of the titles of these cards gives you
the name of the Dark Tale you are creating. In the basic set you have:
A1. The Battle of the Forgotten Army
A2. Sorceries at Dusk
A3. The Test of the Knights
B1. The Iron Army
B2. The Dragon's Treasure
B3. The Forge of His Majesty
Then from SNOW WHITE there are:
A. Snow White
B. The Iron Army
Combine the randomly selected A and B cards, putting whichever one that you want first depending on how it
sounds to you,  and you could end up with, for example, Snow White & The Dragon's Treasure.

    

The 24 cards from the expanson are added to the basic deck - you can remove some of the original cards if this
makes the game a little longer than you wish to play; you take 10 different cards out of the deck and then shuffle
both decks together to form the draw pile.

The SNOW WHITE cards add, as you would expect, the Evil Queen, Snow White, Dwarfs, the Prince, the Glass
Coffin and the Dwarf's House (grammatically incorrect unless of course only one of the Dwarves actually owns
the house, then technically it would be a Dwarf's House) to the mix, making the DARK TALE you are creating
even more mixed up, devious and pehaps just a little darker.

    

DARK TALES is for 2-4 players aged from 14 and up. Once again I feel that the author or publisher has started
a little higher than necessary on the age for beginners as kids from about 10 years and above know about Grimm's
Fairy Tales, many of which are themselves Dark in essence. The 30 minute game time is about right once you are
familiar with the cards and the rules, both of which meld quickly into the mind as there aren't that many rules and
there are several copies of most of the cards which means they get played often and thus remembered easier.

Each card has an icon which specifies the type of card it is; Male, Female, Villain, Place or Event.  Some cards may
only be played in the Daytime and other only at Night, Day or Night also may affect the card's effect. Cards with !
on them are Play Immediately others have an arrow for if . . . the or +./ for and ... or; each card has plenty of useful
information on it. The items are Gold Coins, Swords, Armour and Magic Wands. In general these are useful at the
final scoring if you can match them with the necessary cards as shown on the B Settings card.

Amongst our groups of players there was a three-way split about DARK TALES. Some of us really liked the game,
some of us weren't so keen but would play it occasionally but not too often, others felt that even with the excellent
production, it didn't hold their interest.  Personally, I think it is a very good, highly enjoyable game, quite different
from the majority of other card games. There is some interaction between players in the manner of knowing what
each other player has in front of them and then selecting the cards you play accordingly. Also you can make it into
a storytelling game as you go along by speaking out loud when you lay the cards, expanding the Dark Tale as you go.

There's a lot of fun to be had with DARK TALES and it is a good decision by (designer ? publisher ?) to make it so
that the SNOW WHITE expansion doesn't cement its inclusion solely in the Snow White story.

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015