|A Quest for Spring
A Preview of Movement and Questing in Winter Tales
|Winter Tales | Published 13 November 2013|
A bitter wind swept between the columns of Dorothy’s Mansion, popping the twiggy knuckles of the trees, and whisking snow through the beams of yellow light. In the parlor, Dorothy shuffled from room to room, serving tea and kind words to her houseguests. She found Pinocchio in the foyer, looking out at the windswept plaza as he pulled on his coat. “Must you go out in that?” Dorothy asked, standing next to Pinocchio, sipping her tea. “It’s our destiny, Dorothy,” Pinocchio said. “We have to melt the snow.”
In July, we announced Winter Tales, a new board game for three to seven players, drawing on the power of storytelling and imagination to create an entirely new style of game. You’ll create a novel experience in every game by controlling the lives and actions of the fairy tale characters living in Wintertown. You and your friends are divided into factions at the beginning of the game, split between the oppressive regime of winter and the bold spring rebels. To achieve victory for your faction, you must move your characters between locations in Wintertown, successfully completing quests and defeating any characters that oppose your efforts along the way. In this preview, we’ll examine the mechanics of movement and quests, as well as the integral function of story cards!
When you start your turn, you choose one of your characters to activate by flipping the character card over from the ready side to the activated side. Then, you draw three story cards, before having the opportunity to move. Story cards are vital in Winter Tales because they are your only resource for movement and actions during the game. Each story card features artwork that could be interpreted in a variety of ways. However you interpret the story card, the artwork must relate to the story you tell.
Whenever you wish to move one of your characters, you may discard a story card from your hand to move your character up to two spaces across the board. The story must always be expanded, however, and the artwork featured on the discarded story card must be included in the narrative of the game.
For example, on his turn, the spring player controlling Alice wishes to move from the Puppets’ Theatre to Oaks Park to attempt the Safe House quest located there. In order to move Alice, he activates her and draws three cards, then discards a card to move and begins his story, saying, “Alice is still shaken from the electroshock therapy practiced by the Mad Hatter, but even in her fragile state of mind, she realizes the necessity of finding somewhere safe for the rebels to use as a headquarters. Alice walks out into the maze of city streets, disguising her trail as she moves through the central plaza and into Oaks Park.” After the Spring player has finished his part of the story, he would move Alice the two spaces from the Puppets’ Theatre into Oaks Park, where the Safe House quest is located.
The Quest Begins
Quests in Winter Tales are divided between spring and winter. Although both factions can interact with a quest, or claim it as their own, you can only start the quest if your faction matches the quest’s faction. In Oaks Park, the spring player uses Alice’s action to begin the Safe House quest. Before the quest really begins, however, other players have the option to move their characters into Oaks Park to help or hinder the success of the quest. In our example, none of the other spring players are close enough to help, but one of the winter players chooses to move Wolf into Oaks Park to oppose Alice.
The winter player activates Wolf, draws her story cards, and discards one to move Wolf into Oaks Park, saying, “Wolf is craftily watching the streets from the rooftop of the asylum and notices Alice’s erratic movements. Clambering down from his rooftop station, he mounts his horse and jumps the fence around Oaks Park, ready to interfere with Alice’s plans.” The winter player then moves Wolf from the Mad Hatter’s Asylum into Oaks Park.
Tell a Tale
Once all players have had the opportunity to respond to Alice’s actions, the real quest begins. The spring player controlling Alice starts by playing any number of story cards from his hand, telling the story of Alice’s efforts to establish a safe house among the wooded glens of Oaks Park. He says, “Alice knows that the safe house must be secure and remain hidden from the soldiers of winter. She finds a secret cavern hidden beneath the roots of a massive oak, and kept warm by hot springs. With the help of some other rebels, she manages to construct a hidden spiral staircase, keeping the location of the safe house a secret. Finally, Alice begins stockpiling supplies so the other rebels can remain secretly in the safe house for as long as they need to.” After the spring player has finished, play passes to the next player who has characters in the location.
Wolf is the only other character in the location. The winter player controlling Wolf responds by playing a series of story cards from her hand and expanding the story of the safe house by talking about Wolf’s efforts to thwart Alice. She says, “Wolf knows that he needs to locate the safe house, or the rebels will have a secret meeting place where they can gather and spread treason against the winter regime. While Wolf is searching in Oaks Park, his suspicions are aroused by a flower, blooming out of the ground beneath a huge tree. Wolf searches quickly, and uncovers a secret door, opening on a tunnel. He draws his blade and creeps down the staircase, ready to destroy the rebel’s safe house.”
After every involved character has had a turn to contribute, the spring player who began the quest has the opportunity to play one last card, illustrating Alice’s final push to secure a safe meeting place for the resistance. The spring player says, “Alice senses, somehow, that danger is near. As Wolf comes down the front staircase, Alice gets behind him, using the safe house’s secret passage. She catches Wolf off guard and knocks him unconscious. After Wolf wakes up, hours later, the rebels have removed any evidence that would allow him to identify their safe house.”
The outcome of the quest for the safe house in Oaks Park is determined by counting the story cards for each side. If the spring faction has more story cards, they successfully construct a safe house and complete the quest, but if the winter faction triumphs, Alice is defeated by the machinations of the Wolf. In our example, the spring faction played four story cards, while the winter player only played three, allowing spring to successfully complete the quest.
Whichever side ultimately wins claims the quest as a memory and places it on the memory track. There, it will influence the rest of the game and bring the game toward the finale in the epilogue. Once you complete a predetermined number of quests, the epilogue begins, and the winners of the game are decided, as we’ll describe in a later preview.
In Winter Tales, stories of quests abound as players struggle to determine the future of Wintertown. Whichever faction triumphs in the end, you’re sure to have created an enduring narrative through your imaginations and the storytelling engine of Winter Tales. Join us next time as we preview battles and traps, and pre-order Winter Tales from your local retailer today!
Winter Tales is a narrative board game of storytelling and fairy tale adventures for three to seven players, set in the grim chill of Wintertown. Players control the lives of their favorite fairy tale characters as they seek to complete quests, creating a new fable. In the course of the tale, players tell the story of soldiers battling in the streets and plazas, and rebels laying cunning traps. Can Spring return, or will Winter reign eternally? Craft a new story in Winter Tales!