Once upon a Time is a story-telling card game that harks back to classical fairy tales. Created by Atlas Games this game is one that challenges players to create a story amongst themselves, all the while working towards individual and different endings.
The first time I encountered this game was on Geek and Sundry’s TableTop and it was a case instant love. Not only is the art incredibly beautiful but the example game play that was on the show was hilarious. Once Upon a Time is a game that is very welcoming to new comers and seasoned players alike, with stories being only limited to players imaginations.
The rules of the game are relatively simple, with players each being dealt a varying amount of cards (dependent on the number of players) and are charged with the task of telling a story that incorporates these cards. Examples of cards available in the game range from ‘Princess,’ ‘Journey,’ ‘Blind,’ ‘Palace,’ ‘Stepmother’ with many more being available in not only the starter deck but additional expansion packs. Each card is representative of a fundamental element found within fairytale lore. These cards fall under five different categories which include character, aspect, event, thing and place, and can be played at anytime during a persons turn at story telling.
Methods of ensuring an even flow of game play across players can done through the use of interrupt cards, phrase matching and player decided stops. Interrupt cards and phrase matching allow players to stop the current storyteller by matching symbols on held interrupt cards or when the story teller utters a phrase or word that appears on a card held another players. Additionally, if a player appears to be rambling or at a loss for words, players can interject and stop the storyteller, thus moving the story onto the next player.
My first time playing this game was with a few of my university, creative writing buddies and needless to say it was lots of fun. After more than three hours and over six games, the range of stories had seen ugly giants looking for love, a human-eating horse names Rufus Hoofus and an extended adventure of a nearly always naked, Sinbad.
The best moments to be had with Once Upon a Time are in the number of twists and turns that a story can take as each player battles it out to end the story the way they want it. The final moments as a player weaves an agreeable and often case bittersweet ending, are what that make this game such a delight.
The sheer amount of fun and enjoyment that can be had with Once Upon a Time are truly only limited by players imaginations.