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TOPIC: Tales of the Arabian Nights: a Game that Plays You.

Tales of the Arabian Nights: a Game that Plays You. 12 Oct 2017 00:52 #255606

If you bring your Euro gaming need for strategic planning or Judeo-Christian expectations for fairness to the game you will be sorely disappointed. Terrible things will happen to you regardless of the choices you make.

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Tales of the Arabian Nights: a Game that Plays You. 12 Oct 2017 17:25 #255607

Here's Shut Up and Sit Down's review:

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Tales of the Arabian Nights: a Game that Plays You. 12 Oct 2017 18:29 #255613

From time to time, I have considered acquiring this game, even before the Z-Man edition came out. But it seems like everytime somebody talks about the game, one of the players was ensorcelled. Are the early encounters often pretty much the same, due to starting location?
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Tales of the Arabian Nights: a Game that Plays You. 12 Oct 2017 19:15 #255617

I've always been curious about the game but from what I've hear, chances are I would hate it. I tend to approach games with a "what am I doing?" mindset and making choices with no reasonable information or impact in the game is something I really dislike.

PD: I remember the "sexy stuff" from Arabian Nights not so much because it was sexy but because it was massively racist. I started reading one of the complete editions and there are like three stories in a row in which the Sultan's wife cheats on him with a black slave. Which is like, the worst of the worst.
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Tales of the Arabian Nights: a Game that Plays You. 12 Oct 2017 19:53 #255620

I was just having a conversation with one of my nerd friends about my endless disappointment with board games that try to tell stories. I always end up feeling like I should just play an RPG. Board games can tell emergent stories pretty well, but only if they ignore telling the story. It is kind of like the old cliche about happiness: if you pursue it directly, you’ll never get it, but if you pursue other things passionately you’ll end up with it.

TOTAN is one of these. It’s kind of fun but the promise falls flat. You’re supposed to be the protagonist in a story, but you end up being straightjacketed into situations that you have no control over. You end up being a spectator instead of a hero.
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Tales of the Arabian Nights: a Game that Plays You. 12 Oct 2017 20:14 #255624

Tales of the Arabian Nights is a total classic. It's a beer and pretzels game that is 100% about the experience. You have almost zero control in the grand scheme of things. At best, you feel like you're exploring a forbidden and dangerous world. At it's worst, it's like you're clinging to dear life on a psychotic magic carpet ride. The whole thing isn't meant for "serious" gamers or those seeking any sort of coherent story. It's meant to be a time waster with a few good friends where you marvel at the madcap vignettes sprinkled throughout the evening. You'll get thrown in jail. Have the everliving shit kicked out of you. Fall in love. Fall OUT of love. Become depressed. Do something *kinda* heroic...maybe.

It's a game that I play maybe once or twice a year and it's like opening a portal to the most insane cardboard world you could ever dream up. It's perfect.
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Tales of the Arabian Nights: a Game that Plays You. 13 Oct 2017 01:10 #255637

I forgot to mention that the game reminded me a lot of actually living in the Middle East: you wander around trying to accomplish something while everyone tries to rip you off, and occasional someone is really, really cool or something magical happens.

I need to edit this. Is that possible without intervention?
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Tales of the Arabian Nights: a Game that Plays You. 13 Oct 2017 06:58 #255642

cranberries wrote:
I forgot to mention that the game reminded me a lot of actually living in the Middle East: you wander around trying to accomplish something while everyone tries to rip you off, and occasional someone is really, really cool or something magical happens.

I need to edit this. Is that possible without intervention?

Don't think so. PM me with the text you want and where you want it inserted and I'll edit it accordingly. Sorry about the time it took to go live BTW - I didn't know no-one was watching the queue anymore!
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Oftentimes defeat is splendid, victory may still be shame;
Luck is good, the prize is pleasant but the glory's in the game!
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Tales of the Arabian Nights: a Game that Plays You. 13 Oct 2017 07:00 #255643

dysjunct wrote:
I was just having a conversation with one of my nerd friends about my endless disappointment with board games that try to tell stories,

Not strictly a board game, but you might want to check out Once Upon A Time. Rather than enforcing a story via the mechanics, it's a way to get players to invent their own. One of my absolute favourite games, recently out in a spanking new edition and fairly cheap, too.
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Tales of the Arabian Nights: a Game that Plays You. 13 Oct 2017 14:43 #255681

I really wanted to like this game, but the time required to play was a deal-breaker—until I happened upon the variant where, instead of choosing a combination of 20 points, you play to a hard total of Story + Destiny, so the first person to reach 12 points (4 Story and 8 Destiny, for example) and survive a final encounter in Baghdad wins. This made the game playable to a satifsying finish in about an hour and now I FUCKING LOVE IT.

Here's the thing: played RAW we never got to play it enough—or even finish enough games—to get past the "totally random, doesn't matter what you choose" perception. But now I've played it enough that I've seen the shape of the thing, and it is beautiful. There's a kind of logic to the choices, and you can indeed drive your character's experience in a general direction—though the will of Allah is still paramount and going against your destiny will cause you nothing but suffering. And sometimes suffering is your destiny: I have seen people win as a scorned, crippled, diseased outlaw.

It took a lot of plays to get here, but we can pretty much run the thing as desired; so much so it's now a perennial family favorite.

Here are my standard suggestions for maximum enjoyment:

~ Change time of day at the start of each new round
Instead of waiting for the deck to run out—which never happens—advance time at the beginning of the first player's turn: morning --> day --> night --> morning --> &c.

~ Consider playing to a hard total of Story plus Destiny
Rather than having each player choose a secret combination. For example, first person to get S+D=12 can win. (This converts a multi-hour slog into a delightful hour-plus—which means we get to play it more often!)

~ Go more RPG than board game with the statuses
Some statuses can overstay their welcome and/or become unfun when combined with others—don't be afraid to hand-wave them away with a merciful "You have suffered enough."

~ Only play with awesome people
'Nuff said. (3p is the sweet spot; 4p max)

Thanks for the review!
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Tales of the Arabian Nights: a Game that Plays You. 13 Oct 2017 15:25 #255684

This is one I need to dust off--literally. I've had the first (Z-man) printing since 2009 and have never played it. I see that you can track down still what looks to be pretty minor errata.
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Tales of the Arabian Nights: a Game that Plays You. 16 Oct 2017 10:25 #255781

This isn't a game, it's an activity. Either play a board game or play an RPG or sit around telling stories. You don't need this thing at all.
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