Stuffed Fables Box Art

Stuffed Fables 1st Review, Buy it no?

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Stuffed Fables is a late addition to our game collection and the first Plaid Hat Games title. I have a 10-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl so we have spent our time playing through the campaign and having fun whilst I was casting a critical eye hoping to uncover a deeper experience.

I had read that Stuffed Fables is a spiritual successor to Mice and Mystics. A game I have not played but had heard great things about so I felt quite confident that this would be a fun game for the family. At £50 it was a gamble as my lot are quite fickle and unfortunately the game didn’t resonate with us as a group in the way I had hoped.

Essentially Stuffed Fables is a storybook adventure game and dungeon crawler where you take on the role of one of 6 various stuffies who are the protagonists within the story. They are stuffed animals that belong to a young girl and their self-appointed roles as her protectors will see you fight off the bad guys who live under her bed.

Scary Story?

I was a little worried that the story might cause my youngest to worry that there will be monsters under her bed but at 8 she was not bothered in the least however, your experience may be different so be warned that this is the subject matter.

The story is told through the eyes of the stuffies as they battle to make sure their young girl is not woken during the night.

The story unfolds via chapters in a lavish and well-produced storybook that doubles as the playing board. The tale is simple yet very well done and my daughter was very excited to see what was going to happen next.

The miniatures that accompany the game, the Stuffies themselves and the plethora of bad guys, are very high quality and have a nice weight to them. In all, thematically and in terms of presentation, the game is exceptionally on point so gets a checkmark for me.

For younger children?

So here is my first issue with Stuffed Fables. The story is well told, for younger children, however, the mechanics of the game, which I will come on to shortly, are not easily understood and my daughter certainly would not be able to play Stuffed Fables alone.

My son is 10, a boy into Manchester City, Marvel Super Heros and Football, he was not interested in the story, he only wanted to fight the bad guys and “prefers Descent”. It was too fluffy for him and I could see his eyes glaze over as I read the story that accompanies each scenario.

Again, your child may well love the game at 12 or 13 but we started with four and finished the campaign with three players.

Game Time

After the initial scenario, each chapter takes between 60-90 minutes to play through. A decent length of time and about the right time for a child’s attention span as there is enough to do and enough to plan together that no one is sitting out whilst others finish their turn. 

A turn consists of you blindly drawing dice from a bag. These dice are colour coded and each colour is associated with a specific action. White are for healing, Black are for summoning the enemy, Purple are wild, Yellow is for searching, Red is for melee attacks, Green for ranged attacks and Blue is used for defence.

The Black dice, the dreaded pull of the black dice. Every turn my littlest gave a nervous giggle when she pulled a black dice as when the number of black dice on the minion track equals the number of minions in the level they will spawn and could attack. I could tell by her expression this is what she was hoping for each turn and as searching and completing goals is boring if there is no one to fight!

Your Move

In your turn, you take other actions such as search or move but the most fun is the attacks. You use the dice you have drawn, alone or in combination as this determines the success of each action. For example, to attack an enemy might require you to roll higher than a 5. If you have two red dice you could roll both and combine the results to score more than 5 but if you could roll one at a time, you could attack twice. Do you risk it?

It’s this strategic planning and decision making that I thought might be a little much for the children but after intense interrogation,  they admitted they liked “picking dice and planning their go”.

Its Stitch from Stuffed Fables

It does add an element of strategy to Stuffed Fables however, it isn’t deep enough to keep an adult fully engaged for the duration and I would be embarrassed to turn up to game night with such a simple mechanic in tow and claim it was a strategic dungeon crawler.

I would not choose to play alone either but I would certainly want to play with my children and if my family were not into gaming it’s a gateway game. 

The story starts each chapter and lets you know what the Stuffies need to do. They all revolve around the little girl and each is aimed at the younger gamer. Having played a lot of dungeon crawlers it was refreshing to not have to dig through a box to find the tiles you needed with the drawback being that each level is quite small and surprises are almost entirely missing.

There are places on most maps that will trigger encounters with other toys but there is nothing to reveal in Stuffed Fables as you progress through each chapter. I have come to enjoy this mechanic as I have been playing a lot of Descent using the app and I have grown to appreciate the unknown.

When you are attacked you lose stuffing. My little girl would do everything in her power to not lose any stuffing and often sacrificed my wife and me to this end. It was great fun trying to convince her to help when she had a different goal in mind which means I cannot wait to play Dead Winter with her at some point.

No death

Luckily for us, there is no death as such and when a character loses all 5 of their stuffing they have had “the stuffing knocked out of them” and in the entire campaign, this happened once. Admittedly we felt we had to add a few additional house rules which potentially made the story a little easier but for our game, we wanted to get to the end of the story.

When a player takes damage, they lose stuffing from their character. If they are out of stuffing, they collapse immediately. Players can lose if all of the stuffies are collapsed simultaneously, although it is unlikely. The stuffies will almost assuredly make it to the end of the story, although the chapter can take a slightly different route depending on the success of the players throughout their adventure.

Occasionally you will have a random encounter and these encounters often give you a choice which not only adds replayability but as a parent it was a great experience to watch my children reason through their decisions and make a choice on what they speculated could happen next.

Flops, Stuffie

We used the opportunity to have our children read to us too. If like us you have to battle every day to get your kids to read more than the arbitrary number of pages assigned by the school then this will come as great news because, even my son, read without the story without a challenge.

We don’t have a gaming table so saving a game partway through is almost impossible. Some games make this easier than others however, Stuffed Fables is not one of those games. On several occasions, we had to leave the game set up, much to my wife’s chagrin as time simply got away from us which is an indictment of just how much fun the children can have with Stuffed Fables.

There are some frustrations that I could see the children facing which forced us to add a house rule that you could redraw (once) the dice. Before this, there were a few occasions where, through sheer bad luck, the dice draw would go against you, this slowed play and as we wanted to avoid frustrations it was a wise, if not entirely necessary decision.

Stuffed Fables In Summary

Stuffed Fables, played with junior school children, somewhere between 6 and 10 is a parents joy. I am not sure children younger than this would be able to fully understand what was happening but could certainly play with assistance and might enjoy helping to make decisions.

My son lost interest in the story and didn’t finish the campaign with us however, as previously mentioned your child, at 12,  may still enjoy Stuffed Fables.

I cannot add it to my must-own list simply because the whole package doesn’t make the grade but if it was a choice between Stuffed Fables and the standard fair of games people purchase to play with their children (snakes and ladders, ludo etc) then Stuffed Fables is a positively enjoyable game to introduce this excellent hobby to your brood. 

If you have finished the campaign and want a little more from Stuffed Fables you can grab an extra chapter here.

Stuffed Fables chapter (1616 downloads )

Or simply grab some Stuffed Fables colouring pages here.

Stuffed Fables colouring book (1804 downloads )
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