Radio Review #112 – Fabled Fruit

 

cover_fabled_fruit

(2016 – Stronghold Games)

 

“For the times they are a-changing….”

 

The legacy format has been a massive hit, introducing a refreshing new way to interact with the games we love. Starting with the release of Risk Legacy in 2011, players were now able to decide how a game would evolve, session after session, introducing new rules, breaking other rules, renaming parts of the game itself, and in some cases physically destroying game components. After numerous plays, what eventually emerged was a game unique to that player, unlike any other copy out there. This formula has since been repeated with the releases of both Pandemic Legacy, and Seafall. All three of these games being designed by Rob Daviau. While not necessarily a legacy-style game, Friedemann Friese’s Fabled Fruit uses the newly developed “fable” system, which is somewhat shaped from this legacy format. Instead of completely altering rules and permanently making changes to the game, the fable system allows for some mechanics and actions to evolve over time, creating an ongoing gameplay experience for numerous sessions of play. While these changes evolve, they’re never permanent, and players can always revert back to the beginning, almost like starting over a video game.

You’d think a format such as this would be better suited for a longer, more epic game. However, Fabled Fruit is a 20-30 minute filler. And as a filler, players are able to experience a quick and simple game that’s unique with each play. In Fabled Fruit, players are animals in a forest, in search of collecting the various fruits needed to concoct one of the legendary fabled juices. Players will travel to different locations in the forest, each containing a unique action they can perform there, and contains the listed fruit cards they’ll need to purchase that location’s fabled juice. The first game begins with locations 1-6, with each location containing 4 copies of that location. The remaining locations (7-59) are placed in a stack near the play area. When a player is able to turn in the fruits needed to purchase the fabled juice, that location card is removed from play and turned into an awarded juice for that player. Then the next location from the large stack is placed out, possibly revealing a new location with a new available action. Over time, these new actions will help evolve the game, and more components, variation, and complexity are added to the game over time. Once a session has ended, players can save their progress through the location stack and carry it over to the next game session, eventually working through all 59 locations.

 

 

 

Components:

– Location card decks (59 different decks)

 

– Fruit cards (bananas, coconuts, grapes, pineapples, and strawberries)

 

– Fruit-mix cards

 

– Fruit tokens

 

– Wild tokens

 

– Double-turn tokens

 

– Animal tokens (a set for each player)

 

– Monkey thief token

 

 

 

Setup:

In the Fable system, gameplay will alter and change slightly as new cards and rules are introduced. These rule changes and alterations are included on the various locations. Each location card contains a new action not found on previous locations. There are 59 locations in total, the first 58 containing 4 cards each, and the last location deck containing 8. When playing through sessions of Fabled Fruit, players will start with locations 1-6 in the play area. When a player purchases a fabled juice at one of these locations (I’ll explain how this works in a bit), the first card of the 7th location is brought out, and so on. Therefore, at the beginning of the game, location decks 1-6 are divided out onto the table, while the remaining locations (7-59) are placed in one large draw stack, in order by location number.

Next, the set of Fruit cards are shuffled together to create a draw pile. Make sure not to include the Fruit-mix cards (showing two fruits on one card) with this draw pile at this time. They should be kept separate until a location card has added them to the game. Each player will then draw two Fruit cards from the draw pile to create their starting hand. During the game, players will attempt to create various concoctions of fabled juices. Each location card contains the required Fruit cards needed to create that particular juice, and players will attempt to collect the required Fruit cards needed to complete them.

Each player then receives a set of Animal tokens (a wooden piece and a matching cardboard token). These represent the player during the game. A wooden Animal token not chosen can be used as the Start Player marker. You’ll find that some of the components shown above are not used during initial setup. That’s because these items will come out later as more locations are revealed. For those of you that want to experience the game as new locations are revealed, I’m going to try to stay away from spoiling what the majority of the locations do. I’m going to stick to the initial starting locations, then show a few more after that. But do note that these other components will come into play as you work through various sessions of the game. Once initial setup is complete, the play area should look something like this:

 

 

 

Gameplay:

The number of Fabled juices needed to win is based on the number of players in the game. Five juices are needed in a 2-player game, four juices in a 3-player game, and three juices in a 4-5 player game. A player’s turn is essentially made up of two steps. First he’ll need to move his Animal token to a different location than he’s currently at (or simply onto any location during his 1st turn of the game). Next he can either choose to use the location’s special action, or he can purchase the fabled juice at the location.

When moving, the player can move to any location in the play area, though there may be a cost if that location contains one or more opposing players. If the location is already occupied, the player must give a Fruit card from his hand to each player present, if able. If he’s not able to pay the full cost, he can still go to the new location, but won’t have to fulfill the cost entirely (though he’s now out of cards). For instance, if the Elephant player went to a location already occupied by the Sheep and Turtle players, but he only had 1 Fruit card in hand, he would choose which of these two players to give it to. If he had gone here and had no cards in his hand, he wouldn’t have to pay them anything.

Each location card contains the card’s action at the top of the card and the list of fruits needed to purchase the Fabled juice there at the bottom of the card. The text near the middle of the card will help clarify the action itself. Some cards also have a signpost next to the drawing on the card. This means that these cards contain actions that require something of the player. If the player cannot meet the requirement, he’ll simply draw 1 Fruit card from the draw pile instead of taking the location’s action.

For instance, taking a look at location #4, we can see that the location’s action is to offer 1 fruit to all other players. This means that the player will place a number of cards from his hand onto the play area face-up, equal to the number of opposing players. Moving clockwise each opposing player can choose to take one of the cards. For every card taken, the current player will be allowed to draw 2 new Fruit cards from the draw pile.

This location card contains the signpost reminded the player that if he does not have enough cards to offer one to every player, instead of taking the listed action, he would simply draw 1 card from the draw pile.

 

If the player has the required Fruit cards in hand needed to purchase the Fabled juice listed at the location he’s on, he can choose to do this instead of taking the location’s action. By discarding the required Fruit cards, the player will remove the location card from the play area and place it face-down in front of himself to show that he’s purchased a Fabled juice. The topmost location card of the location deck is then placed in the play area. If this is a new location, it is set on an empty area of the table next to the other locations. If it is a location that is already represented on the table, then it is simply added to the top of that location’s stack. Players can begin using the action and purchase the Fabled juice on a new location as soon as it comes into play.

For example, the Sheep player has moved to location #2, which requires 3 strawberries and a wild to create the Fabled juice here. Anytime you see this “wild smoothie” icon, it means that the player can choose to use any Fruit card to fulfill it. Therefore, the player can discard 3 strawberries and a grape card from his hand to purchase this Fabled juice.

 

Once purchased, the Sheep player removes the location card from play and places it face-down in front of himself. He then removes the top location card from location deck, which is location #7. Because this is a new location, it is set in it’s own area on the table, next to the other locations.

 

Players will now be able to go to location #7 and use its new action (seen above). This action allows you to discard 2 Pineapples from you hand in order to draw 5 new Fruit cards from the draw pile. To purchase the Fabled Fruit card here, a player simply needs any combination of 6 fruits.

 

Once the four #7 location cards have come out, the #8 location is next (pictured by a walrus). This is the first location that makes a slight change to the game, creating a new market area full of five face-up fruits. Some actions on future cards (as well as the #8 location’s action) will allow players to use the fruits from this market as opposed of drawing from the draw pile. Other future locations will introduce more additions to the game.

 

 

 

End-Game & Future Sessions:

A player wins as soon as he’s collected the required number of Fabled juices (based on the number of players). Most games won’t last more than 30 minutes, however this is where the Fable system comes into play. For the next game session, play will resume with the current locations that were available at the end of this game. Because a new location card is added to the play area every time a player purchases a Fabled juice and removes that location card as reference, there are always 24 location cards in play.

To save the game, players will first remove all location cards that were turned into Fabled juices and place them in one of the bags. These location cards will never be used again until players decide to start over. Players will then place the 24 locations cards currently in play on top of the location draw deck, in numerical order. These are then kept together in the box, separate from the discarded Fabled juice location cards. This way when players wish to start a session on a different night, they will set up the game as normal, drawing the top 24 locations cards from the location deck, thus beginning where they finished the last game.

If you plan on playing through the entire 59 location set with the same players, the rulebook gives a suggestion for awarding an overall winner. In each game, there will be a winner (or winners, if there’s a tie), a loser, and everyone else in between. The winner of each game receives 2 points, the loser receives no points, and all other players receive 1 point each. After all 59 locations have been played through, the overall winner is the one with the most accumulated points.

 

 

 

Thoughts:

At its core (pun so intended), Fabled Fruit is the ultimate ongoing filler. While influenced by the legacy format seen in Pandemic Legacy and Seafall, there are no permanent changes here. At any point players can choose to start over, and its quite simple to keep track of two different ongoing games, if you choose. Say a two-player game with your wife, and maybe a separate game with your gaming group. Simply write down the 24 locations you ended with and set those up to start with next session.

The game provides nice, set collection gameplay with an action selection element. What makes Fabled Fruit unique is that the actions used in each session will not only expand and vary, but also become a bit more complex. The game does a nice job of teaching you how these actions work, slowing introducing new concepts with each new location. While I’ve yet to tackle all 59 locations, thus far there’s a nice flow to the order they are presented. There’s also a sense of anticipation as new locations appear, and with 59 total locations (58 of them containing 4 cards each, the last containing 8) it will take quite a while for a group of players to work through the entire set. This provides a great amount of replayability.

But what’s the use of mass replayability if the gameplay itself is flat (or dare I say, fruitless)? Fortunately, Friedemann has taken the simple concept of set collection, and with it merged together aspects of worker placement and action selection. The game’s length as a filler works to its advantage, as sessions never feel too drawn out, nor overstay their welcome. It’s a filler game that can last months on the table before playing through every location, and you may find yourself pulling it out as just a filler for the night, only to discover your a good three or four sessions in before boxing it back up. There’s word from Stronghold Games that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this Fable system. It’ll be interesting to see what types of other games they can incorporate it with, whether they stick to smaller filler-style games, or eventually branch out to a more epic scale. Either way, it’s a perfect fit for Fabled Fruit, and it may just be the last filler you purchase for quite some time.

 

 

If you’re near the Wilmington, NC area, feel free to check this game out and more at our community’s FLGS, Cape Fear Games.

 

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