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Friday, 23 June 2017

Tarot Games -- Shahrazad and Stones of Fate

So far I've bought two games that involve Tarot in some way, so I thought I'd do a little review of them. :)

Shahrazad, Osprey Games 2017

The first is Shahrazad, published by Osprey Games. This game is based on the Tarot majors, with each card assigned a thematically linked world fairy tale. In the game, you are Shahrazad, stringing together the fairy tales in order to survive another day. It was originally published as Tarot Storia in Japan, printed on cardstock. Shahrazad is the US/UK version, leaving out any mention of Tarot on the box and instead focusing on the fairy tales. In the new version, the cards have become tiles.

Cards or tiles, neither the fairy tales nor the Tarot carry a whole lot of weight, as the object of the game is to arrange the cards in columns in numerical order. You do this by drawing cards one at a time and placing them in offset columns of four cards each.  When you've finished laying all the cards, you then score based on how many contiguous cards of the same colour you have, after eliminating any cards that cannot be connected first to last column and that appear out of numerical order. This does not sound particularly challenging, but it is! This game is recommended for solo play, and it is a quiet, meditative game, particularly if you let your mind wander over the fairy tales and how those fit in with the Tarot card meaning whilst you are placing the cards. Two players can also play, taking turns and working collaboratively.

I bought this game at the UK Games Expo in Birmingham and paid £13, only to come home and find it on Amazon for £5.99. The dirty robbin' bastards. :)

Stones of Fate, Cosmic Wombat 2014

The second game I can share with you is Stones of Fate published by Cosmic Wombat Games, which was apparently formed in order to publish this particular game.  I don't think they've done anything else.

Stones of Fate contains the 78-card Tarot deck, art work by Ciro Marchetti. Tarot plays a stronger role in this game, with each card even getting a few lines of text explaining the card meaning. However, game play does not really involve Tarot meanings. It turns out this is a memory game!

Each player is given a set of 4 coloured tokens and the object of the game is to collect cards by placing the stones in the proper places above, below and/or left and right of the face down cards. Here's how it works:

Cards are laid out face down in 3 or 4 columns of 3 rows. (To its credit, the rules book calls this a 'spread'.) The cards are turned over so that players can examine the card placement in the spread. On each card, there are markings at top, bottom and sides indicating how many stones must be placed there in order to claim the card. Then all the cards are turned face down again. On your turn, you can either peek at a card, place a stone, or try to claim a card by turning it over. When you turn it over, if you have the proper number of stones on each side, you can claim it. If you don't, it goes into the discard pile and is replaced. This carries on for 78 cards. You keep all the cards you've claimed and at the end of the game, points are added up to see who wins. Some cards have special powers based on their Tarot meaning, such as Queen of Coins, 'This card represents the 'motherly' aspect, the desire to care for and nurture your family. Choose a card from your collection and give it to another player.' Or The Fool, 'The Fool represents a new journey into the complete unknown. Each player must remove all of their fate stones from the spread.' Or The Tower, 'The Tower represents a time of great turmoil and insecurity, shaking foundations built on naivety. Each player must discard at random one card from their collection.' Which is all well and good, but it's the memory aspect that is the big challenge here for me. I found myself getting so confused and grumpy that we decided we should play it with a timer set and then count up points after 15, 20, 30 minutes. When we played it recently, I found myself getting very upset with myself for not being able to remember where to place the stones! Funnily enough, improving my memory is one of the main reasons we started gaming. But memory games! Oy!

I think either of these games would make a nice addition for a Tarot group that might want to try something a bit different.

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