My Boardgame Geek Secret Santa surprised me with a game that I’d added to my Wish List a couple of days after the names were given out: Tales of the Arabian Nights. This isn’t so much a game as it is an experience. I explain the concept by comparing it to a choose-your-own-adventure book because it feels very much like that as you’re playing.
Your character travels around the board and has Encounters with people such as: Diseased Hunchback, Cheating Merchant, Lonely Prophet, and Beautiful Maiden (be especially wary of beautiful women for your could end up married!). You will also encounter non-human entities such as: Malicious Merman, Lovesick ‘Efreet, Hungry Gooleh, and a Talking Beast. Maybe your encounter will not be alive at all but a Mild Storm, House Fire, Ruined City or Strange Customs.
Whatever you encounter, you will be given a list of 6-9 reactions to choose from. Will you attack the Drunken Ne’er-do-well or hire him? Will you aid the Imprisoned Prince or just converse with him? Maybe you want to abduct him, thinking someone would pay a ransom for his Highness. After deciding how you will react to an encounter, someone reads the paragraph that tells you how that plays out, and some can be quite funny. The result of the encounter will usually give you points on either or both of the Story and Destiny tracks, sometimes you gain wealth, and sometimes you’ll acquire a new Skill like Quick Thinking, Acting & Disguise, Magic, Seduction and Wisdom.
Skills help you with certain encounters, increasing your chance of gaining better rewards instead of getting beat up and Wounded, or becoming Lovesick or Lost. You see, there are also Statuses which alter your character for a time. Some are helpful like letting you choose what the die roll will be during an encounter, and some are decidedly a pain in your… they’re not good. The one Cori and I decided we love is Insane. Truly, we’ve found that being Insane is a lot of fun and can have wonderful surprise results. I once ran into a Evil ‘Efreet or something, who had two children in his hands and was preparing to dash them to the ground. In my insanity, I ran up to him and started talking in his strange tongue. The response was that he agreed to trade some trinkets for the two children and we were both happy. Who would try something like that but an insane person? And who would imagine that it would end well?
Cori and I have played this twice by ourselves, laughing and having a great time–pay no attention to the score track, it’s only there to give you a goal. She was so taken with it that she told some of her friends about it. And last night five of them came over for a Christmas get-together. We ate, talked, exchanged small gifts and played Tales of the Arabian Nights while one woman’s son entertained himself with Boom Blox on the Wii.
If you ever Encounter Seven Wild Women playing a silly board game, I suggest you choose to Examine because you will never again hear the like. We all had a marvelously hilarious time, confronting giants, viziers, and princesses, and even managed to throw in some quotes from Monty Python, “What is your Quest?”