Winter Tales is set in the immersive location of Wintertown, where players will sew together the story of the conflict between the Reginme of Winter’s soldiers and the hardy rebels who fight for the return of Spring. Players will be completing quests, lay traps, and engage in battles to create a new story with each playthrough of the game. Unique story cards and events will help the game change shape each time you get it to the table.
In Winter Tales players control the actions and motivations of popular fairy tale characters. The side of Winter sees the Wold, the Mad Hatter, and the Candlewick all work to squash the rebellion and ensure that Winter reclaims its reign on Wintertown. Thos rebels who seek to see a weather change are fighting on the side of Spring, which sees Alice, Pinocchio, and even Grandma Dorothy staging raids and laying traps to break the Winter soldiers’ grasp on the town.
During each player’s turn he activates one of his characters and draws three different Story Cards. Then he may have his character move and perform various activities, like questing or generating new quests all together. Each faction can start different quests, ranging from locating a great artifact to leading a retaliation against the pressing rebels. When a story centered on a quest is completed successfully, the victor claims it for themselves and puts it on the Memory track. Quests on this track make up a larger epic and push the game towards its end in the Epilogue.
In most games the Epilogue will be determined in the favor of either Winter or Spring. If there’s an odd number of players, however, a new faction is added and one player takes on the role of the Writer. The Writer controls characters from both sides and uses them to complete his own goals. In order for the Writer to win he needs to keep the story from ending, causing a draw between Winter and Spring.
Perhaps what’s most unique about Winter Tales is its use of Story Cards. These cards merely have drawing on them, which appear crude and sketchy. Each card shows artwork that can be taken in many different ways. While players move about the board they will have to discard Story Cards and explain how the pictures on them help the ongoing story.
An example Fantasy Flight gave was such:
For example, a player may wish to move his character, the Tin Man, to interfere with a quest that the Winter soldiers are attempting. To move. the player may discard a Story Card and begin telling his story, saying, “The Tin Man is walking the streets of Wintertown, searching for some way to secretly oppose the efforts of the Winter soldiers. But when he sees a gallows noose in the distance, he quickly moves towards it, thinking that this must be some wicked new plot of the Regime of Winter.” After he finishes his part of the story, the player would move the Tin Man to the desired location.
As Story Cards are totally open to interpretation, what looks like a knife to one player could be a snake to someone else. Story Cards are essential to making progress on quests. While players push forward in their quests they discard many Story Cards as they relate to the current narrative. These cards can also be used to interrupt other players’ movements. When rebels move between locations, soldiers can stop them and battle. When fighting players play Story Cards and tell what happens during the story of the fight. When one side gains the upper hand by playing more Story Cards than the other, the fight is concluded. If the rebel loses they will be forced to end their movement.
Winter Tales will be releasing during the fourth quarter of this year, which makes the time appropriate for its setting. Having the ability to play as iconic characters from fairy tales and make your own story through your quests in Wintertown is really intriguing. Fantasy Flight says there will be modules for the game that players can add for more flavor and strategy, which will help push the game’s replayability. More information will be coming soon, as I am sure Fantasy Flight will be previewing the game, so keep your eyes peeled!