- Designers: Jung Che Hsu, Li-Chung Ou Young
- Publisher: 2Plus Games
- Players: 4-7
- Age: 8+
- Time: 30-40 minutes
- Preview copy provided by 2Plus Games / Taiwan Boardgame Design
Story Teller is a story-telling game that follows the structure of classic dramatic formulas. As a result, the stories created by players will have a complete structure and include exciting conflicts and twists. To start the game, the six Chapter boards are placed on the table in order: Purpose, Obstacle, Breakthrough, Defeated, Turning Point, Ending. There are 5 types of Story Cards: Character, Scene, Item, Action and Status. Each deck is color coded, and each is shuffled separately to start the game. One Character card and one Scene card are placed face up on the Purpose Chapter board. Each player also draws a starting hand of 2 Characters, 2 Scenes and 2 Items. To complete setup, one player is given the Macguffin token, they will play the role of the Macguffin Player this game.
The game is played over 6 rounds, each essentially being a chapter in the story making process. Each of these Chapters has a specific purpose in the crafting of a great story
Each round consists of four steps:
- Ideation and Card Play – All players brainstorm and think about the plot for the current round’s chapter using 1 or 2 cards from their hand. There is no turn order – any player can play his/her cards face down and place his marker on those cards to show that they have come up with their version of the chapter’s story. As soon as three players have played their cards, this step ends. If no one voluntarily plays cards, the Macguffin player can force a player to do so.
- Present your plot (Storytelling) – According to the order in which they placed their marker down, the three players reveal their cards and describe the content of their story. Each of the cards only has a single word or idea on it, so you’ll definitely have to use your imagination to flesh out the story. Be sure to keep your new story in line with everything in the previous chapters! And in the first round, be sure to remember that you need to use the two cards initially drawn on the Purpose Chapter card…
- Decide the direction of the story (Vote for the Plot) – All players take one of their Admire tokens and hold them in hand, then simultaneously place them on the story they like the most, excluding their own. The story with the highest number of votes becomes the main plot, ties broken by the MacGuffin player. Any player who voted for the winning story receive a Scroll token (worth 1 VP)
- Clean up and Scoring – The highest-voted cards are placed on the Chapter board for this round, reminding everyone of the main plot’s content. All of the non winning cards are simply discarded. The players who told stories keep their Admire tokens which voted for their story, earning 1 point each. Each player can adjust their hand of cards by drawing three cards from any of the decks, and then discarding down to a hand of 6 cards. If the MacGuffin player had to use his ability this round, it is passed to the next player.
These four steps are repeated for the next round, continuing the storyline. For example, in the second round, players must describe the obstacles the protagonist encounters while trying to achieve their purpose. After 6 rounds, the player with the highest score wins! “At the same time, you will have created a structured, complete, and interesting story!”
My thoughts on the game
This is definitely unlike most of the games that I usually play, and as a result, I’m not sure how to judge it. While most of me wants to call this an activity, and not a game, there is definitely something going on here – whether it is the application of your imagination/ingenuity to develop interesting chapters to the story OR simply being good at evaluating the story to make sure that you are voting for the winning addition…
It is definitely interesting to watch the storyline develop here, and it makes me wonder if this is how screenwriters come up with some of the convoluted stories that you see on the movie screen?!
The art on the cards is adorable with caricatures and cute drawings for the most part. There are a couple of stereotypical images which could cause issues, but YMMV. The Chapter cards don’t have the same heading titles as what is in my English Translation – but that might be a translation issue. These Chapter tiles also have different words on the back; and I think there is an alternate path explained in the Taiwanese rules that I do not have an explanation for. In the end, these discrepancies didn’t stop us from enjoying the game.
Thus far, Story Teller has been a game that has been more about the experience and journey as opposed to winning or losing. What I have found interesting and fun is the construction and evolution of the story. Hearing the different alternative futures for the story is definitely interesting, and the story can often take hilarious turns based on what cards are available to be used in a player’s hand!
If you’re a left brained person, this honestly is probably not the game for you. This is a game that wants imagination, participation and obviously story telling. If you’re looking for strategic moves and long-term planning, umm, you’re in the wrong place. I can see this being a hit with people who like to read or write stories themselves. Also, I think this could hit a sweet spot for fans of social deduction games – as storytelling is inherent in that genre.
Also, I think – with some judicious pruning of certain cards – really good for children to encourage their critical thinking and storytelling skills. Being able to use cues to realistically expand on a story is great learning task for younger gamers, and Story Teller could be an excellent tool in that regard.
Ultimately, this game is not for me as I do not enjoy this sort of game (or social deduction, or things like Dixit). But, I have already found a home for the game with two younger kids who have had a blast learning how to create stories with Story Teller!
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor