Sunday, August 12, 2012


I have owned my copy of Nanofictionary for around 10 years.  In all that time, I never made the time to play it until today.  The reason for this is that the game is very much outside of my usual subject area.  Nanofictionary is not a wargame, or a strategy game, or anything like that.  It is a story-telling game, where each player uses their cards to set up a story.  The only other game in my collection that even comes close to this idea is Once Upon a Time, but there are some significant differences in the way that each game plays.  In One Upon a Time the players are all working on telling the same story, but in Nanofictionary each player is working on their own independent story.

Game play works as such:  each player starts with five cards.  Each turn they draw a card from the draw pile and then either play one card from their hand, or they can discard as many cards as they want and draw enough cards so that they end the turn with five cards in their hand.  The goal is to get at least one Character, Setting, Problem, and Resolution on the table in front of you.  There are also Action cards you can play that let you do special things, like swap cards with another player or take a card from the discard pile, for example.  Bonus points are scored by ending play before other players, and the last player gets two rounds to wrap up their story.  Then, each player tells a short story using the cards in front of them as the primary elements, and the players award victory points to the stories they like the best.

The game plays pretty quick, and provides a mild diversion.  With certain groups of people I can see the game being a lot of fun.  People who are not natural storytellers might have some trouble getting into it, though.  Also, this game is better with more people, and the rules allow for spectators to award bonus points to the stories that they like the best, so this game would even work well at a larger party, as those not directly playing the game can still laugh at the silly stories the players come up with and influence who scores the most points and thus wins the game.  While there is some skill involved in trying to tie all of the story elements provided by the cards into a coherent whole, there is also a fair amount of luck involved in the cards that you get.  Some elements just do not go together well, and someone stuck with such cards will find it almost impossible to win.  Still, a game can be played in as little as 15 minutes, so you can always try your luck again in the next round.

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