Paper Tales: Beyond the Gates expansion
- Designer: Masato Uesugi
- Publisher: Stronghold Games
- Players: 1-7
- Ages: 12+
- Time: 30 minutes
- Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Stronghold Games
Paper Tales was one of my surprise finds from Essen 2017 (well, actually, I found it prior to the show as I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of the game over that summer)… The review of that base game can be found here.
We played the heck out of Paper Tales, but after about ten plays, the game did start to feel a bit same-y. Sure, you had to keep on your toes to take advantage of the cards as they came up – but the magic in discovering new cards and new combinations felt like it had run its course.
Good things come to those who wait, and this expansion box provides a number of new components to revive the excitement of the original game. First, there are 20 new unit cards (split up amongst 13 different types). These cards are simply added into the main deck of cards from the base game. All of these cards have a small key icon in the name banner in case you need to separate them later.
There are also 6 new building types in the game. Each player starts with a Mine, Temple, Tavern and Town from the base game. There are tiles for the seven remaining buildings, and these are shuffled and three are chosen at random. All players take their building cards for those three types so that each player starts the game with the same seven building cards in their area.
Gameplay stays the same otherwise…
And, I guess now is a good time to mention that the game also includes enough building cards and tokens to support a 6th and 7th player! Now, 7 Wonders finally has some competition in the 6+ player drafting genre…
Finally, there is a solo game included in the box. In this game, you fight against the Army of the Lich King. This game requires 20 Necropolis cards (5 in play in each game) as well as up to 4 Lich King cards – each of these Lich cards gives a special ongoing power to the Lich King; so you can vary the difficulty by choosing how many and which Lich cards to play against.
The game obviously has a slightly different Recruitment phase – as you have no one else to draft with. In this game, you first deal 5 cards from the deck and keep 1. The other 4 go into the Netherworld stack. Then deal 4, keep 1, and put the remaining 3 in the Netherworld stack. Finally, deal yourself 3 cards, keep 1, and then put the rest into the Netherworld stack. Now, shuffle up the 9 cards in the Netherworld stack, deal yourself 2, and then choose one of them – placing the unchosen card on the BOTTOM of the Netherworld stack; finish up your phase by taking the top card remaining on the Netherworld stack.
You should have 5 cards in your hand, and there should be 7 unchosen cards in the Netherworld stack. The Lich King then scores points for the Necropolis card for the round, based on the upper left corner. Then he looks at all revealed Necropolis cards and scores the Netherworld deck for those visible scoring criteria. Once scored, the Netherworld cards can be discarded.
You deploy as usual, and then in the war phase, you flip up the next card in line (keeping the time token in the same place) – and you add together the black shields and the purple shields to come up with the strengths for 2 armies. You score 3 points for each war where you have equal or more points. The Lick King scores 1 point for each war he has equal or more points. The rest of the game plays out like the base game.
At the end of turn 4, the game ends. You score endgame points based on the buildings that you have built to that point. The Lich King scores the immediate score value for his fifth and final card. The player with the most points wins. The Lich King breaks ties, mostly because he’s evil and because his brother in law wrote the rules.
My thoughts on the game
As far as the multiplayer game goes, I love the addition of new cards. Sure, only 20 new cards are added to the deck, but there are a myriad of new interactions. With the thirteen new card types, there are all sorts of new combos to explore. The new cards also make the 4p game a bit more diverse as you see a smaller proportion of cards in each game, so the combos that you used to be able to wait for are less likely to occur. In the 7p game (only played once) – almost all the cards are in the game, but due to the higher player count, there are plenty more cards that you simply never see due to the drafting.
I am on the fence about the added player count. I generally don’t like games with higher player counts, and this game falls into the same bucket as 7 Wonders. I’m mostly playing a game with only two other players, my LHO and my RHO. The other players are really more like randomizers that take cards out of the supply for me. That being said, there aren’t many games which play nicely for 7, and even if I didn’t love the base game, the ability to play well with 7 would keep this in the game collection.
Finally, the solo game is a nice plus. I do enjoy playing games solo, and this one has provided a good challenge. It was also a really fun way to learn how the new cards work. I like the solo rules for drafting, and you still get a good feel for choosing cards. As you get deeper in the game, you also get the chance to play defensively – as you know which scoring criteria are already faceup in the Lich King’s row – you may end up choosing cards only to deny the scoring opportunity for him. By the final round, it might be possible for a single card to help out scoring two or even three of those criteria. Thus far, I’m doing ok playing against a single randomly chosen Lich king card – but I also like the way that the difficulty can be varied with these.
Overall this is a very useful expansion to the base game, and one that I’m simply adding wholesale to my base box. I really don’t see much call to play the game without the extras, and as everything is clearly marked, you could always quickly revert the set to the base game. A definite keeper for me.
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor