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Fairy Tale
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Store:  Strategy Games, Card Games
Format:  Card Games

Fairy Tale

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Ages Play Time Players
10+ 30-60 minutes 2-5

Designer(s): Satoshi Nakamura

Manufacturer(s): Yuhodo, What's Your Game?

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Product Description

It is a tale as old as time itself. Shadow threatens the world of Dragons, Fairies, and Knights. But this time you are in control as you draft cards from one or more factions. By choosing your forces wisely and anticipating your opponent's picks, it is within your power to affect the outcome of this Fairy Tale!

This is a non-collectible cardgame wherein you draft cards -- you draw 5 cards, pick one, then pass the remaining cards to another player while receiving a new hand of 4 cards yourself from another player. You pick another card then give those cards to another player, etc. After 4 rounds of drafting, the player with the most points wins.

Team play available. Includes a team rules variant by Richard Garfield.

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Satoshi Nakamura

  • Manufacturer(s): Yuhodo, What's Your Game?

  • Year: 2005

  • Players: 2 - 5

  • Time: 30 - 60 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 300 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item.


  • 100 cards
  • rules

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.5 in 3 reviews

Fairy Tale: A Quick Review
May 23, 2006

Fairy Tale

Satoshi Nakamura’s Fairy Tale is the perfect game for people who love CCGs but are sick of the first C. Offering much of the varied play seen in bigger card games, but with everything you need in one small box, this is surly one of the best games released in 2005.

Fairy Tale uses a draft system for selecting each player’s five cards, of these five cards one is played by everyone at the same time until three of the five are out on the table. The remaining two are discarded and a new draft round begins. The game is actually easier to play than to explain – it is extremely simple once you have mastered the few symbols that are the key to the meat of the game – for the cards you play will effect the cards already played in different ways. Some will cause you to flip over cards you have played (only face up cards score points), some of them will cause everyone to flip a card, some of them will allow you to un-flip a card. There are also neat scoring combinations – so really the game becomes set collection – with each player attempting to reach the highest score by collecting various sets, which in turn makes the draft system more and more intriguing as the game progresses.

This game is brilliantly clever, fast to play and always enjoyable. I would recommend this game to anyone – as a filler game (one to be played between other, bigger, games) – it is one of the best. There aren’t many fillers my group has been distracted for a night playing – but this is one of them. Recommended by Faidutti (Citadels), with variant rules by Richard Garfield (Magic the Gathering) – what more recommendation does a game need!

This is surely one of the best buys in my collection! A game that is tactically rewarding, fun, light and lightning quick. Most games of Fairy Tale we play clock around 15 to 20 minutes – so short we often go for a second or third helping. I have found the game to be great with the minimum to the maximum of players (2-5) – although it is probably at it’s absolute best with the full compliment of 5.

Z-Man games has done an outstanding job, with high quality, sturdy cards, and the original artwork by Yoko Nachigami is stunning to say the least and make it a must buy for any fan of Japanese Anime.

Some people have complained that the game has little to do with actually building a ‘Fairy Tale’, and this is true – really the game is independent of it’s theme. But it is nonetheless a brilliant game and the beautiful artwork by Nachigami by far makes up for any lack of theme in the game system itself. I wouldn’t say this often – but if you like CCGs, Faidutti games, card games, anime – hell – if you like gaming at all – do yourself a favour and get this game, it is a real gem.

A tremendous filler. Love the drafting!
October 01, 2006

There was a very positive, loud buzz when Fairy Tale (Z-man Games and Yuhodo, 2004 - Satoshi Nakamura) was first published in Japan. Japanese games usually tend to fly under the radar, but Fairy Tale was so popular that eventually Z-man Games picked it up for republishing. It was lauded as a "filler", a game that could be played easily in fifteen or twenty minutes, so I was eager to get my hands on it for many reasons. When I first opened it up, however, I was rather surprised to see what appeared to be complicated cards with multiple symbols on them. Reading the rules didn't really seem to make the game any more appealing, and I put it off for a bit before playing.

After the first game, however, I was hooked immediately. The drafting mechanic, which is more prevalent in the game than I thought, worked like a charm and was in fact the most important part of the game. Combined with a variety of cards that were very well balanced, the game just flew by in an interesting and fascinating fashion. I enjoy both the basic and the advanced game, and Fairy Tale is one of the few games that I want to play over and over again. It is indeed a short game, but it is extremely enjoyable and uses a few simple mechanics to keep players entertained.

In the basic game, a deck of eighty cards is shuffled - made up of four major factions (Dragonvale - green; Fairywood - orange; Holy Empire - yellow; and Shadow - black). Cards are further split up into different types, giving out a certain number of points at the end of the game. Cards also show information on them as to how many of them are in the deck; whether or not they flip or unflip cards, and whether they are a "character", "home", or "story" card. The game takes place in four rounds - each of which consists of a draft and then playing of the cards.

For each draft, the dealer gives five cards to each player. Players examine the cards and decide which one to keep, passing the remaining four cards to the next player (direction depends on what round it is). Players then keep one of the four cards they receive and pass three to the next person, etc. - until all players have five cards.

During the playing of the cards each player will play three cards, one at a time. All players place a card face down and reveal them simultaneously. Any "unflip" effects on cards are then resolved, then any "flip" effects (forcing some cards to be turned face down). After three cards have been played, players discard the remaining two cards and begin another drafting round. After four rounds of play, players have twelve cards in front of them and total up their score, using only the face up cards. The player with the highest score is the winner!

Examples of cards include:
- Staff-Bearing Sage: Only one point, but unflips a Holy Empire card of the player.
- Werewolf: Two points, and causes everyone (including the player who placed the card) to flip over a Holy Empire card.
- Fairy Ring: Six points, but causes the player to flip over a Fairywood card - even if it must be the Fairy Ring that is played!
- Homesteader: Each homesteader is worth points equal to the number of homesteaders a player has placed. (1 Homesteader = 1 point; 2 = 4 points; 3 = 9 points, etc.
- Knight of the Round Table: Three points, and is a "friend" of the Bronze Dragon.
- Bronze Dragon: Worth points equal to three times the number of Knights of the Round Table that are placed.
- Dark Angel: Is actually worth "-1" points, but allows the player to unflip two of their cards.
- Eight other similar types of cards.

In the advanced version of the game, twenty extra cards are added to the deck. These cards include conditional cards - cards that award a certain amount of points if the player accomplishes a certain goal. For example, the Shadowking's Tale - Chapter 1 card gives a player six points if they have the most Shadow cards at the end of the game, and the Dragon's Tale - Chapter 2 card gives a player seven points if they have on Silver Dragon card and one Dragon's Lair card at the end of the game. Another card, the "Almighty" is worth negative one point but can have its name changed to any card in the deck, so as to affect the point value of other cards. Also, three cards "hunt" Shadow cards, which means if they are flipped at the same time a Shadow Card is flipped, then that Shadow card comes into play face down.

Some comments on the game…

1.) Components: The cards have a definite Japanese flair with their artwork and are actually quite serious and well drawn for fantasy. The card quality is very good, although I've played the game so many times that small bits of wear and tear are noticeable on the colored edges of the cards. Each type of card is a different colored background, and the symbols for flipping and unflipping are easy to tell apart. At first I thought that the symbols would be confusing, as each card has at least two; but it's actually very simple, and I've run into nobody who has had a problem with it. Everything fits in a small purple box with a lid that just barely holds the cards.

2.) Rules: The rules are on two sides of a long, unfolded piece of paper with full color illustrations and examples. I found the game easy to digest, although I did miss one major rule - that a card can actually cause itself to be flipped, which does change the game quite a bit. I think that the advanced game could be taught to new players, but it seems much easier to play with just the basic game, as there are only fifteen different cards instead of thirty-five. The rules also allow for partner play, which is an interesting variant (although I prefer single player) - and the name Richard Garfield is thrown in there (the creator of Magic: the Gathering) with a variant that allows players to exchange a card in play for one of their partners.

3.) Drafting: For me, this is the meat of the game, and can be incredibly interesting. Many times a player will draw five cards and want to keep several of them, but you may only keep one and must pass four to the next player. So which one to keep? Should a player keep the one that gives them the most points? This seems logical, and often happens; but what if that means giving their opponent a card, which will allow them to score big? Many times I've seen players torn with this decision, as to whether they should "bite the bullet" and keep their opponent from getting yet another Homesteader card, or keep a card that will really help them out. Players can also hope that perhaps a card they pass will come back to them eventually, but it seems as if it rarely does. In the advanced version, Drafting actually becomes even more critical, as there are some high scoring cards that may or may not work; and players must ascertain whether or not they will reach the goal or not. For example, the Knights Tale - Chapter 4 card awards nine points if you also have The Sword King (only one in the deck) in play. Should I take the card, hoping that the Sword King will eventually come to my hand? Or should I pass it on, taking cards that are more of a "sure thing"? Mind you, drafting involves making four choices, and they don't take too terribly long. But their effect on the game is rather potent and thus makes the choices interesting.

4.) Points: Every card has its use, and it's often difficult to formulate which ones to attempt to collect. A player can go for the sure points and take many of the "6" cards, although they have to sacrifice other cards to do so. However, clever play can mitigate this. A player can play a six point Dragon's Lair, flipping it face down to meet the requirements then play a single point Silver Dragon, which allows the player to unflip the Dragon's Lair. They can then play another Dragon's Lair, which makes me flip over the Silver Dragon. Gaining twelve points for three cards is a pretty good deal! At the same time, collecting sets of cards, like the Homesteaders, can also be lucrative. Five of them will garnish a player twenty-five points, which can swing the game for the player. The most powerful cards, if left unchecked, seem to be the ones that depend on others. The Bard, for example, which is worth three times the amount of Elven Warriors, seems worthless at first glance. But if a player manages to get three of those Elven Warriors on the table, each Bard is now worth nine points to the player. All of this sounds slightly complicated; but it's really rather simple, and players will quickly determine which route to go.

5.) Interaction: The Shadow cards will sometimes cause other players to flip certain of their cards face down and can be annoying (although they award very few points, so players who go out of their way to be antagonistic will most likely lose). Still, they're very few and far between - most cards a player will flip are a result of cards that they themselves have played (such as the Dragon's Lair). Where interaction comes more into play is in the drafting, when players will deliberately keep and discard cards that their opponents need. One must concentrate on their own cards and scoring, to be sure; but ignoring what your opponents are doing is quite deadly.

6.) Advanced Game: I personally enjoy the advanced game more, since the cards that have conditional points are so tempting yet are risky. It adds more tension to the game and more options. I can see how many folk would simply be pleased with the basic game, however; since there are only fifteen card types, and it moves at a slightly accelerated pace.

7.) Fun Factor: Much of the enjoyment of Fairy Tale comes not only from how quickly a game plays (most last around twenty minutes - faster once all players are experienced.), but how players are involved and absorbed the entire time. It's usually difficult to tell who is winning until scoring occurs; and while there is luck involved in what cards a player draws, losers can usually point to some mistake they made while drafting that allowed their opponent to place a nice combination of cards on the table. I'm not sure that the "story-telling" theme comes through, as the game is all about points for me, but the artwork does lend a nice background to the card laying. Also, I've always enjoyed the card drafting mechanic that was introduced with the collectible card game genre but always found it too expensive to care about (players must buy cards each time they play in a drafting tournament). Fairy Tale allows me to explore this fascinating mechanic without having to expend money.

I cannot emphasize just how enjoyable Fairy Tale is, and think that even those who are normally turned off by a fantasy theme will enjoy the game. Any game that causes me to play it three times in a row (very rare for me) is certainly one that I'm going to hang on to; and very few games use the drafting mechanic, which is one of my favorite things about the game. If this is the sort of game we'll see brought over from Japan, then I hope that many more make their way to the English speaking world. But for now, I'm quite content with this truly excellent filler game.

Tom Vasel
"Real men play board games"

by SoCal Doug
Good filler / intro game.
November 28, 2009

I bought this game as an extra item when I made my last big order about 1 1/2 years ago. I had it sitting on my shelf the whole time and literally had to wipe the dust off of it.

The reason was because the two times I broke out the rules I kind of had a 'huh?' reaction. But, this time I took a different approach and boy oh boy! This is one of those situations where the game is really very simple and I think it is just that the draft is one of those things that you can explain in person in 20 seconds but which in written form made it seem a lot harder.

So, now that I hit myself on the forehead everytime I see this game for not getting it up and running sooner, let me say that it is a good filler game, it is quick, and for those of you who like trying to really put some brainwork into it, you can really think a lot with the draft by trying to keep track of what the other players to each side of you are drafting from the cards you keep shuffling back and forth to them.

So, for the price, pick up a copy. It is also great for newcomers to the gaming/fantasy world too.

SoCal Doug

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