Stuffed Fables from Plaid Hat Games is really a thing of beauty. Since it was announced last year, I’ve been excitedly waiting for this game to hit store shelves. Because Stuffed Fables is a storybook driven game, I feel like this is a game that will grow and change as you play through the 7 chapters included in the book.
I’m going to attempt to write about our experiences over a series of 3 blogs that will hopefully give you an idea if this is a good fit for your family. This series will stay away from spoilers and will include the opinions of the whole family as we play.
Players take on the role of stuffed animals appropriately names “stuffies”. You are owned by a little girl that loves you and you love her. As the first chapter opens, the little girl is transitioning into a big girl bed. The centerpiece of Stuffed Fables is this large storybook that serves to narrate the adventure and also serves as the game board which you play on.
You have the choice of 4 different stuffies as the adventure starts. The player cards are well made, includes special abilities for your character and is beautifully illustrated. The miniatures included with the game are top notch. Plaid Hat did a great job with the game components and opening the box just brings a smile to your face.
The stuffies will arm themselves with makeshift weapons, put on armor made out of household materials and collect buttons as currency. Up to 4 players fight evil to defend the little girl who owns them. Specific events can cause the girl to wake up from her sleep as you fight. This small deck of cards contains a single card near the bottom that would end your adventure in that chapter if the little girl wakes up.
The centerpiece of Stuffed Fables is this large storybook that serves to narrate the adventure and also serves as the game board which you play on.
The Adventure Begins
We’ve just completed chapter 1 of Stuffed Fables. The storybook sets everything up really well and, with the right person reading, this sets a wonderful tone for the game. I was really impressed at how the story connects you to the little girl you are tasked to protect and sets up this fantasy world made of toys.
In some areas players will walk into a battle with different enemies and sometimes you’ll be tasked with exploring before enemies show up. Players start their turn by drawing 5 dice from the bag. Each color does something different like searching the area, attacking with a melee or ranged weapons and even replenishing your stuffing (healing). The enemies take their turn when the appropriate amount of black dice are drawn from the bag over a series of turns.
The mechanics of the game work really well. I never felt like our team of 4 was overwhelmed but there was enough tension in the game to keep us on our toes. Some encounters seem pretty tough when half the team was knocked out because of losing all their stuffing. Even when a player loses all their stuffing, you are not out of the game. Other players can give you stuffing or you can return to battle in a future turn if you draw a white die from the bag.
Missteps and Timing
Our first chapter was not the most smooth experience in the world. We started the game one night after a full day of work and school for everyone at the house. Even after checking out Watch It Played with Rodney Smith, I still fumbled a couple rules that first night. As things started to click, we realized that we’d put in over 90 minutes playing the game already. It took a little longer than expected so we wrote down what items everyone had and gently packed the game away so we could finish another night.
I never felt like our team of 4 was overwhelmed but there was enough tension in the game to keep us on our toes.
We came back to the game within two weeks and knew we had enough time to finish chapter 1 of the story. All together the first story took us around three and a half hours. We know this was mostly because we were all learning a game together as a family. It did take me by surprise because of the audience that this game was built for.
Stuffed Fables is really built for family gaming. The story takes adults and children through something that everyone at the table can relate to and ends each chapter with discussion points that families can dig into together. While everything about this game clicked for me, the time it took to start could easily put off a family that didn’t anticipate this.
Thoughts from the Kids
After finishing the first chapter, we had some great conversations about what they liked and didn’t like about our first experience with the game. Our oldest daughter who is a teenager seemed to catch on and like the mechanics. She thought it was good but would definitely wait to play again on a weekend because of the amount of time it took.
Our son who is 12 loved how the story took us to and from each location. He really enjoyed the story and said he’s up for playing again to hear more about this world. This is one of the strongest things Stuffed Fables has going for it in my opinion. I cannot think of another game that makes you feel like you are in the middle of a book that is growing and changing. Josiah mentioned that he felt like it was the equivalent of an RPG video game.
Our youngest daughter who is 10 had the hardest time engaging with the game. She is our “gamer child”. She’s the kid who destroyed us in Catan at 7 years old. She’s the one who is down for a game anytime of day. She mentioned that the game seemed overwhelming because of the amount of pieces, miniatures and stuff that was in the box. Erin believes the pacing of the game struggled to keep her attention. This was something that the other two kids didn’t have an issue with.
As we ended the first chapter, we were excited because Kendal who is 10 used her ranged weapon to take out the boss in an epic fashion. We’ve only just begun our adventure with our stuffed friends. Over the next two blogs, I hope that the pros and cons of this game become clear to you the reader. I’m so excited about getting into the next couple chapters and seeing where the team from Plaid Hat Games takes us. Stay tuned for more coverage on this game.