Tales of the Arabian Nights - Board Game Box Shot

Tales of the Arabian Nights

Tales of the Arabian Nights title
image © Z-Man Games

In Tales of the Arabian Nights, you are the hero or heroine in a story of adventure and wonder just like those told by Scheherazade to her spellbound sultan! You will travel the land seeking your own destiny and fortune. You will learn stories and gain wisdom to share with others. Will you be the first to fulfill your destiny? The next Tale is yours to tell! There is, of course, a winner in Tales of the Arabian Nights, but the point of the game is less to see who wins and more to enjoy the unfolding and telling of a great story!

In this new edition of the groundbreaking storytelling game, you enter the lands of the Arabian Nights alongside Sindbad, Ali Baba, and the other legendary heroes of the tales. Travel the world encountering imprisoned princesses, powerful 'efreets, evil viziers, and such marvels as the Magnetic Mountain and the fabled Elephant's Graveyard.

Choose your actions carefully and the skills you possess will reward you: become beloved, wealthy, mighty - even become sultan of a great land. Choose foolishly, however, and become a beggar, or be cursed with a beast's form or become insane from terror! YOU will bring to life the stories of the inestimable Book of Tales in this vastly replayable board game with over 2002 tales that will challenge, amuse, astound and spellbind you for years to come.

This edition of the game has nearly 2000 more paragraphs than the original edition.

We have added variants to the game which can be downloaded on the right side of our official game page. Please note that these variants are not rigid: use what you need to get the best enjoyment out of this game.

User Reviews (25)

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6
The Gold Heart
Plaid Hat Games fan
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Bronze Supporter
9
78 of 81 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Immerse yourself in mythical Arabia...”

If you are like me, you enjoy all sorts of games – those that employ higher strategy, and those that are pure fun. One of my favorite game experiences involves immersion – that is, playing a game to be immersed in a world or experience different than our own. So, if you are looking for an immersive play experience that lies somewhere between adventure game and role-playing game, with beautifully crafted components and wonderful poetic style – read on.

Style/Components: (Artful and Sophisticated)
When you pick up the weighty game box is as if you are holding a treasure stolen from the forty thieves themselves. The Arabian and Persian themed illustrations; the art on the game board, cards, and tokens is perfect for the theme. If you enjoy tearing the wrapping off a new game, smelling new game smell and looking at the components thinking, “How do I use all this stuff?” then you will love the overall production value of Tales of the Arabian Nights.

Game-play: (Simple and wonderfully unpredictable)
The game play is quite simple for “Tales.” You seek to win by earning Story and Destiny. And you the player get to decide how many you need in any combination adding up to 20. (8 Destiny and 12 Story for example.) You receive these points by completing quests and resolving successful encounters in the world of mythological Arabia – complete with Princes, Magicians, Efreets and Djinn.

Each player portrays a character from this world (Aladdin, Sinbad, etc) and gets to customize their character to a degree – choosing three skills before play begins. These skills help (or hinder) in encounter resolution. Players move about the board, meeting the inhabitants of this ancient world, hoping to achieve their preset goal of Story and Destiny Points. There are “Treasures” that help and also “Conditions” that can affect your character and you can acquire new skills as well! The uniqueness of the game is in how encounters are resolved…

The main component, the Book of Tales has thousands of paragraphs that are matched to every encounter. When you meet a Beggar for example, will you help him or rob him? The reaction matrix cross references your reaction with an adjective describing the beggar, (Poor, imprisoned, etc) and the Beggar’s reaction and what happens next come from that combination. The “tales” in the book are wonderfully written.

In this way the game does have a “choose your own adventure” feel. But so much more is dependant upon the outcome than a simple reaction choice. Skills and Conditions, Treasures and even what sort of land region you are in all affect the outcome. The math is actually staggering.

Value: (Worth its weight…)
The game retails for around $59.99, which is a lot these days for an evening’s entertainment. But Tales of the Arabian Nights offers so much replay value, it’s worth it. If this game sounds like a good one for you or your game group, go ahead and spend the money.

Overall Review: (Unpredictable fun… for the right group.)
“Tales” was originally released in 1985.(During the height of popularity of the “Endless Quests book…) For those of us over a certain age…(ahem) games in the 80’s also employed a certain random generation process as a main mechanic (it was the era of the first computers and folks loved multiplication matrices). Now admittedly, I liked these games. The random results were still at the mercy of probability, but you always came away thinking that anything could happen. So it is with “Tales.”

Avid and casual gamers will enjoy “Tales” for the components; shear adventure, random elements and story telling. But if you are not a fan of letting fate determine your success – stay away. The game is great for families, with some educational qualities and I would even say the age could be lowered to reading age children (8-9 yrs) because this game is all about reading the tales and not as much about strategic planning several turns ahead. The 2 hours playing time is accurate, but plan for more to fully enjoy the “tales.” Sometimes there are a lot of things to keep track of but its hardly a detraction.

Immersion is still the key. If you want to feel immersed in the strange and unpredictable world of mythological Arabia, rub the lamp…

 
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5
USA
Cross Hares fan
9
84 of 91 gamers found this helpful
“Drinking the Storm”

Tales of The Arabian Nights is equivalent to a choose-your-own-adventure book with a board attached on to it. But that is what makes it so unique. As you go around the board, trying to collect treasure and complete quests all in an attempt to gain Story or Destiny point, the tale that is weaved into your character quite literally becomes one to be told of for games to come. Like when you try to trick a genie and get turned into a giant monkey, or when you find a spring in the desert and drink greedily from it only to find out that you’ve now had a gender-change. Or, after a long and arduous journey, you finally return to Baghdad and are able to marry the love of your life. Everything in this game becomes a story that makes it so that all players walk away feeling good about it and wanting to try it again, to see what will happen next time.
The Gameplay
After all players have chosen their characters, they select from pools of Story and Destiny points, picking a total of twenty points in secret to determine their victory formula. When choosing, Story points allow for a bigger tale to be weaved, whereas Destiny points help to dictate you actions. Then, each player gets to choose three skills to aid them in their journey. After all players have chosen their skills, they receive Quest card. The Quest cards help to give a player a direction in the game, and can range from being able to weave the greatest of tales or becoming the king of thieves.
Players then proceed to move around the board. When they finish their move, they draw from a stack of encounter cards. On each encounter card, there are numbers that direct another person (the reader) to look into the Book of Tales. The active player then rolls two dice and adds any modifiers to the number. This directs the reader to announce what type of encounter it is and where the options for it are on the reaction matrix (ex: a “powerful” beggar on matrix J). When the active player chooses their reaction, they will then roll the destiny die to see if anything is added or taken away from the number. Based upon that result, another player holding the Reaction Matrix will tell the reader what numbered paragraph to look up in the Book of Tales. As the reader reveals what happens, any skills listed in the book that the active player has can be used to change the outcome. But be warned, for sometimes, these skills could hurt you rather than help you.
After this has been completed and an the any gained Destiny and Story points, Statuses or Treasures have been resolved, the game goes to the next player and both the Book of Tales and Reaction Matrix are passed to the next in line. And this will continue until someone reaches the predetermined amount of Destiny and Story points, reaches Baghdad and announces that they are going to win. After this, all remaining players have one final chance to reach Baghdad and potentially steal the victory.
Pros
The story telling aspect of this game is a lot of fun, and helps to keep all players involved with what is going on. And the Book of Tales has roughly 2,600 different paragraphs, making the replay value almost infinite!
Cons
Some people might be scared off when they see the Book of Tales, especially if they think that it is the rulebook! Also, when playing with six players, some players might lose interest while waiting to get involved. With the Book of Tales and Reaction Matrix, three players are always involved with the story.
Conclusion
This game is a lot of fun! I was perusing through some games list one day and came across this gem, showed it to my wife who promptly showed it to some friends of ours and it has spread like wildfire. Whenever we bring it our Friendly Local Game Store, we never have a problem getting player to join in on a game of Tales of The Arabian Nights. This game is best with three players, because then all are doing something, be it moving around the board, searching through the Reaction Matrix or reading from the Book of Tales. If you are a fan of storytelling games, then this is the game for you!

 
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5
Went to Gen Con 2012
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
7
77 of 85 gamers found this helpful
“Random story telling game”

At the beginning of the game you select two numbers which must add up to 20 for destiny point and story telling points. The first person to reach these numbers must return to Bagdad, and then win the game.

Seems simple enough doesn’t it? You pick three skills at the start of the game. Select your character and start off walking. You can walk as far as your wealth allows, and you start off poor at the start of the game. After ending your walk you select a card to have an encounter. The selected card provides a letter of the alphabet that another person at the table uses to find a table in the encounter book. For example it might have the letter “N.” Now role a dice, add up any number on the town, or area, where you are located, add 1 or 2 points depending on how much destiny you have, and you have a number that is used on the table N to say what you encounter. For example, you might encounter a possessed chicken. So, what you are going to do with the chicken? You select from several verb options such as pray, run, engage, or fight.

After your selection a paragraph is read from the encounter book. (roll a dice to see if the paragraph below or above is read) and you find out what happens to your character. If you have a skill that applies to the situation, you might have a good result. If you are unskilled, usually you have some sort of status change, and you accumulate destiny and/or story points.

The game was just a little too random for me. And since you had a status change almost every turn it became difficult to keep track of them all. So currently I can’t collect destiny points, I can not use any of my skills, and I can only walk one space at a time. And I can’t wait to see what happens to me next turn.

We had a player who had placed their destiny, and story points at 10 each at the start of the game and was way past 10 points on each, but could not win the game because they had a gender change due to a bad encounter. The card said he had to be his original gender before he could win the game. Where should he go on the board to have that happen? He just wandered around the board hoping to eventually have an encounter that would allow him to win the game.

This is a upgrade of an older game. Why with the upgrade did no one take the time to address the issue that night-time adventures were never going to happen, because you would have had to go through the adventure deck twice to get to them?

There are lots of variants that can be found that people have come up with to play this game. For example, each turn around the table it goes from dawn, full day, to night. And some limit the amount of troubles that each player can have. (We eventually decided that even if the person didn’t get changed back, if he made it to 20 in story or destiny he could still win)

All of these game changes found on the web represent a good game that could have been made better, if someone would have taken the time to update and refresh the rules with the new edition.

Now let’s talk about some of the fun in the game. It is possible to be a man who’s been turned into a woman, who has been turned into a beast, who is insane. If you have the right group of people, I could see these changes as being the kinda of events talked about after play. We enjoyed some of the encounters, and I thought the game materials were very nice.

Perhaps the random game play represents the idea of being lost in a desert looking for a way out. If so the game is the Sahara of all games.

 
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2
Reviewed My First Game
6
62 of 69 gamers found this helpful
“Choose Your Own Adventure: The Board Game”

One to six players, best with three or four.

About two hours to play, longer if you do the voices.

Arabian Nights is the Choose Your Own Adventure board game.

Each turn, you get a random encounter, choose a reaction, and see what happens to your poor character. The game comes with a gigantic encounters book and a reaction sheet, which reference each other in a combinatorial explosion of story snippets. Oh, I met a Disguised Prince on the road? I’m going to Rob him! Uh oh, he’s actually the prince of the land, and has his bodyguards throw me in the dungeon, eh? I guess I’m Imprisoned now. Next turn.

To win, you need two types of VPs: Story and Destiny points. At the beginning of the game, you choose a number of each (summing to twenty) that will be your goal. You can reduce the total points for a shorter game, but I wouldn’t recommend increasing it. Ten of each is pretty standard. As you go through encounters, you get points based on what happens to you. For anyone attempting to game this system, though, don’t bother. Encounters give out practically random assortments of points, so much so that “winning” might as well be a roll of the die itself. The crazy thing: you probably won’t care.

This game isn’t about the win. It’s about the insanity that happens along the way. Encounters are wide and varied, and drop long-term status effects on characters, such as ***-changed or married. Reactions vaguely cover most anything you might want to do, and some things you’d never consider had they not been on there. Encounters themselves feel like they’re pulled straight from the old tales.

My wife was annoyed that the game didn’t have much continuity between turns (encounters are disconnected and episodic, with your character being the only constant), but that doesn’t take much away from the game. Your character does grow and change over time, with skills (which alter the available encounter paths), status effects (which change your options each turn), quests (which provide VPs or treasure for completing a goal), and treasure. However, these just add to the story, rather than present a strategy. Even your quest, ostensibly the means with which you pick up your winning VPs, is impossible to be deliberative about. Often, the best you can do is wander until a random encounter gives you what you need.

In all, this is a great low-key game. Like Fluxx, if you get frustrated over losing (or winning) for no good reason, it might not be worth picking up. However, if you want to laugh over whether a ***-change changes your married status, you might give it a try.

 
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3
10
53 of 59 gamers found this helpful
“Great Storytelling Experience Game”

I’m an avid reader and struggling writer, so it seems natural that I’d love a storytelling game like this. And I do.

Speaking first from a game perspective:

The initial “out of the box” experience is fabulous albeit a bit overwhelming at first. There are a ton of tokens, cards, etc that need to be sorted and organized to ensure gameplay is efficient and understandable. The quality of the components is good quality cardboard and plastic.

The artwork is beautiful…from the map to the cards & tokens to the character icons. The game is visually lovely to experience.

Where I rank it a little lower out of the box is the “ease of learning” aspect…though not necessarily because of any problems with the instructions or with overly complex rules. As I mentioned above, the out of the box experience can be overwhelming. When I first pulled it out, each of us around the table gave a slight gasp and even cringed a little. Looking at the pile of components and the size of the books (~20 page rulebook) sitting in front of us, there was a little anxiety to learn the game.

Once we got everything organized, we found that the instructions were fairly well written and opened up the game world to us in a logical and easy to follow way. There were still a number of times we had to refer back to the rules to remember what we needed to do to handle encounters, movements, items, etc but we got the hang of it fairly quickly.

My biggest complaint with this game is definitely NOT a knock on the game…my biggest complaint is that each gameplay ends long before I want it to. Whether I “win” or lose, I want the game to keep going. I’ve generally played the game with 3 players and our average gameplay has been ~80 minutes. Sadly (for me), that’s about the max single-game session that these gamers want to have. So they don’t concede to my request that we keep playing…or that (when we start the game) we begin with a goal of 30 destiny/story points.

I want to try out the solo variant just so I can get more experience, but part of the fun is the storytelling with other players.

As a final note – if you’re going into this game expecting a strategic game or a full role playing game, you won’t find what you’re looking for. While there is some minimal strategy (which decision do I make, which skills do I select, etc) and there is some role playing (encounters, skills to level up, items/treasures to collect), this game is really NOT a strategic game nor is it an RPG based on the general usage of the term. This is an EXPERIENCE game with an amazingly intricate storytelling system that is a lot of fun.

With that in mind, give it a try. It’s a lot of fun.

 
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8
Gamer - Level 8
Expert Recruiter
Count / Countess
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
7
60 of 67 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Excellent, light storytelling game!”

Tales of the Arabian Nights is an adventure game set in the mythical world of Middle Eastern folklore. You will find talk of friendli Djinni, wicked Efreeti and scheming viziers.The way the game works is that you have a character chosen at the start of the game, such as Sindbad, Aladdin or Scheherazade. You then choose a victory condition, which is a number of Story points and Destiny points that together total 20 points. What you do then is travel the world and have encounters. You determine the encounter by drawing from an Encounter deck and then rolling on a chart in the Book of Tales, which determines what you encounter. After what you encounter is determined, the player decides how he responds. Each category will have a list of responses, and this will result in a paragraph from the Book of Tales, which in turn may give choices based on skills your character possesses. That may seem like a lot to digest, but here is an example:

I am playing Aladdin, and on my turn a I move a few spaces. I then draw an Encounter card, which is a Prophet. The card also has a number which corresponds to a chart in the Book of Tales. I roll a number on this chart, giving the Prophet an adjective: he is now a Mad Prophet. I then choose how to react to him. In this case, I will Rob him (I am Aladdin, a street rat, after all!). Another player who has a list compares my choice to a list and tells the player with the book what paragraph to read. The paragraph indicates that I stage a scheme with accomplices to take his wealth, and it goes well, but alas, he is poor. There are then two results, based on whether or not I have a specific skill. I do not, thereforefore I earn a single Destiny point and my turn is over and passes to the next player.

What I like about the game

What I like about this game is that it is an adventure game that seems to have enough variation to play over and over again. The number of encounters make it unlikely that one will repeat in the same game. A common issue with games in the genre is that they easily go stale. After about 5-7 plays, I still see myself playing this game more. As a person with a game library of more than 300 games, that is saying a lot. I’d play this over Runequest or Talisman any day.

What I dislike

There are some statuses that a character can acquire that sometimes seem a bit punitive. In addition to awards, a character may end up with a status of some sort. Some are good (Blessed and Vizier, for example), some are a mixed bag (Married and On Pilgrimmage), and some are just nasty (Accursed, Enslaved and Grief Stricken). The mentioned ones are not the entire list, but the bad ones just seem to stick around forever and some take away choices, or require specific choices. A minor dislike, but worth noting.

Final verdict

Tales of the Arabian Nights is a great adventure game. Don’t open the box and expect to play this like a strategy game, though: it just isn’t. You can’t reliably expect to plan a strategy and execute it. It’s a fun, random romp through a story-rich world. Expect to be amused by this light-hearted and enjoyable game.

 
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4
Novice Reviewer
Intermediate Grader
7
48 of 55 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“A Masterpiece? I guess it depends on the Appraiser.”

Quick Summary
Tales of the Arabian Nights is a bit of challenging game to really critique, because when you look at it, you really have to ask “Is this actually… a game?” There are objectives. There are decisions. There is a “win condition.” But all of it is just so arbitrary. Your objectives are either set by you… or the game. It’s up to you. The decisions are made illogically and uninformed. The “win condition” is there, but it’s more of a catalyst to just end what you are doing.

Primary Mechanics
Note: There are several mechanics within the game, but they all really take a back seat as they are all there to really support the thematic experience that is set by the Book of Tales. I could take a clinical look at the mechanics of this game. I could talk about earning points, the dice rolling, the skills and cards, but doing so would be a complete disservice to this game. All of those are entirely secondary to (and in service for) the focal mechanic of the game, storytelling

– Storytellings- – Throughout the game, players will decide on their movement, land on a spot, draw a card, reference a matrix, carry the two, find X, solve for theta, and call for a pizza until they get to a cryptic number. The paragraph number in “The Book of Tales”. Now if that sounds ominous or daunting. It’s because it is. The book alone will cost $27 in cross-continental shipping due to the weight alone. It contains 2002 different stories and tales for you to explore. The whole game plays out as a giant, multiplayer, choose your own adventure book. Characters you encounter, are determined by cards you draw, there’s a dice to add uncertainty and variety. This is an odd mechanic to really try and judge fairly because it’s mostly up to the players to make the most of it.

Balance & Difficulty
The game plays best with 3 players. 4 players would be a stretch, and anything more would be unimaginable. The game goes up to 6. You would be crazy to attempt that. With 1 player, i’d recommend reading a novel, and it plays well with 2. A big reason for this is because it can take a while to resolve a player’s turn. And there are enough “duties” to keep everyone occupied with 3 players. There is the active player, who makes decisions in their encounter. Another player meanwhile can help reference the matrix, and another player can read the active player’s encounter. If you play up to 6, half the game you will literally be doing nothing but listening. This is when the cell phones get pulled out.
In terms of difficulty, the game is mechanically simple, but every turn you’ll be asked to make a decision, and there’s no real foresight for making informed decisions. There also seems to be no real correlation between your skills and your decisions. For an example, you may be charming and attractive, so you try and court a beautiful princess, and suddenly you find yourself needing skills with weapon as you end up fighting a jealous beggar and you are getting pursued by the city guard. Chaos is an understatement.

Theme
Despite that chaos, you just had an experience no game before it has ever offered before. You were this charming handsome, man trying to marry into wealth and power only to **** off some street bum that was trying to make sweet with the princess. You ended up getting charged with assault and now you’re fleeing the city to avoid imprisonment. And that was only one turn of events.
This isn’t just a book. This isn’t just a game. It’s the setting of djinns, saultens, and Aladdin. Ali Baba, thieves, magical caves and “open sesame”, the voyages of sinbad and the lake of color and YOU get to not read it, but experience it. Tales of the Arabian Nights is only as successful as you let it be. If you are getting bogged down with analysis paralysis, maximizing your skills or generally trying to win, you are playing it wrong. The theme is the game. The mechanics are nothing more than there to support that. Story points? Destiny points? They are only gauges for how far you’ve gone until your character’s story has been told.

Components
– Main Board – The main board is a large, beautiful, map. It’s a hair glossy, so glare can be an issue. There are some tracks on the board, and they are pretty clear. There are also coastal regions which aren’t exactly clear WHAt they are. Some of the landscape can be a hair difficult to interpret, which can be important with the cards. Older prints have a slight printer error with a missing connection. But overall, the board is really good quality and functional.

– Player Board – Similarly, they are a bit glossy. They also look a bit overwhelming too, but overall, not too shabby. It essentially shows a matrix of all the possible types of skills and decisions you’ll make. It also has a spot to show which gender you are (Which is significant, as your gender can change). Overall, the player board is a very handy aid for the players.

– Dice – Dice quality seem very average. There is one unique dice with + and -, and this is essentially used to mix up the stories a little bit. So if the matrix says “532” and you roll a +, you read 533 instead.

– Cards – Cards have a great quality to them. A very nice feel and cut. A little bit of texture to grab. There are several different decks, some you want to have shuffled, and some you want to have organized. The information on them are very straightforward. Some will have a story driven goal for you. Others are treasure, statuses and encounters.
The status cards are what really make the game’s stories cohesive, because you have encounters where you’ll be given a status, and it’s something that carries with you on future turns until you are able to get rid of it. They can be quite humorous and thematic. Such as “insane”, where other players essentially act as the voices in your head as they make the decisions in your tales for you.
There is some shuffling, but it really isn’t worth it to sleeve the cards at all, unless you just want things to be kept in pristine condition. The game doesn’t really have any strategic advantage to gain, where scuffing would be an issue.

– Chits – There are a lot of chits in the game. Most are pretty easy to spot, but there are skill chits which can be a bit cumbersome to sort through, as there are a ton of them, they all look similar, but they aren’t similar at all. So when someone either chooses to get Weapon Use or they learn Weapon Use, you have to dig through a mountain of cardboard finding one that says “Weapon Use”.

-Cardboard players with plastic stands – The fitting of the cardboard into the plastic stand seemed to be a tight fit. The good news, they won’t fall off, but take caution not to rip or bend the cardboard as you try and put them on.

– Insert – The paper insert felt a bit awkward. A little loose around the book, but not enough room to store all the cards in their own deck. So you’ll probably have to fan out the cards a bit if you want to keep them together, or just mix them up a bit to keep the stacks even. There’s no room to really use a plano, because the book is so large. The insert does a decent job keeping the book in good condition, but for the chits and cards, they may have their own character and adventure.

– Book of Encounters – This is the heart of the game. It’s pretty well organized, but it would be nice if there was a cross reference with the page number and not just the paragraph number. The writing is quite good. Some passages would even live up to the standards in the referenced material of One Thousand and One Nights. (Often cited as “Arabian Nights”) The print quality puts the majority of book publishers to shame. The only thing that can often be a bit awkward for many is when it references characters, it uses the general term of “This One”, so for the game to really run smoothly, all players really need to learn how to elaborate, spice up, and personalize each entry.

– Rulebook – The rulebook is VERY clear. There isn’t a lot to get confused on, as the game is pretty straight forward. It also really encourages the players to go after the aspect of thematic immersion, and not mechanical victory.

Art
The art is really quite good, but I would have liked some of the content to be a little more spiced up and stylized. The cover of the box and rulebook is really quite stunning, and that doesn’t quite carry over to the art on the cards.

Replay Value
The replayability of this game is really going to depend on the players. If they enjoy the storytelling experience, there are hundreds of hours to be had in this game. If they are wanting something where their choices matter, something strategic, or something with gameplay, they may never want to reach for the game again.

Who May Be Interested in it?
Avid gamers who want something a bit light, fun, and just to share stores and laughs with friends may be interested in this. This game is also something between a board game and a roleplaying experience. Writers, storytellers, and people are interested in foreign cultures and ancient folk tales may absolutely adore this game.

Who Should Avoid it?
Anyone looking for a game with interesting mechanics, strategy, or any sort of important decision making should avoid this game.

Final Conclusion
This isn’t a game I would expect to enjoy. But the concept of it was just so intriguing to me, I had to give it a try. Did it live up to my expectations? Well.. sort of. I don’t think it’s something that really cater’s to my ability to really flesh out a good story. I don’t find many fictional novels that interesting, but this was different. My character’s name may have been Ali Baba, but I wasn’t living the story of Ali Baba, I was living my story in that setting. The world feels living and vibrant, and in so many ways, I would almost call this game a masterpiece.
But there is one significant issue I haven’t touched on, which is narrative disconnection. Narrative disconnection is when a player’s investment in the story is withdrawn because something exists that removes meaning, purpose, or immersion. This happens in Tales of the Arabian Nights when an encounter happens multiple times, or an event or occasion happens that makes a player stop trying to achieve their goals. A good demonstration of this is found with movie “The Truman Show”, in that movie, the main character lives in a fabricated reality, and his connection to his reality becomes disconnected as his suspicion raises. A light falls from the sky, people begin to act irrational, and all that tries to get explained away. Finally he finds the door with the word “Exit” and his immersion within what was his reality, was shattered. In Tales of the Arabian Nights, when an encounter is reread, the exit door appears.
This is an issue more often associated with video games, as content or mechanics are implemented which directly contradict the environmental immersion. This isn’t a typical board game concern, because games usually ARE a mechanic-thematic disconnect as they are an abstraction of a theme.
It’s a forgivable error, and with clever enough players, it can even become a non-issue, but those player have to have a very specific talent.
This is a good game which lately has had an enormous explosion on the wantlist of gamers everywhere. It would have stayed in my collection if I hadn’t decided to keep a similar storytelling game, Agents of SMERSH, over it.

About my reviews.
The purpose isn’t to teach you how to play the game. This review isn’t to reinforce any type of confirmation bias. I try to judge the game as it is designed. (No house rules, variants and expansions are reviewed separately). While I may apply a numeric rating, it would be my desire you ignore that number while reading my reviews. What I want to do is highlight notable aspects of the game and critique the game to help you decide if you think it may be something that interests you. I don’t believe it is good for people to make uninformed purchases. Thanks for your time.

 
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7
Knight-errant
Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
10
52 of 60 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“A tale of story and destiny intertwined...”

When I first was introduced to Tales of the Arabian Nights, I fell in love with it right away. What made me appreciate this game the most was the way the game felt; it was quite different than any other game I had encountered to date. It was simple yet complex, structured yet dynamic, freeform yet competitive. I knew I had to have it for my own.

So what is Tales all about? Quite simply, it’s about story. Players take on the role of one of six famous characters from Arabian stories, such as Ali Baba or Aladdin. A biography of each character is included in the instruction manual, including famous deeds and legends, but for the purposes of the game, it is immaterial; YOU will be crafting the character’s story from beginning to end through the deeds and encounters you perform during the game.

To start the game, every player selects a Story point value and a Destiny point value. These two values are the goals that players are trying to meet to beat the game, and the Story and Destiny values must add up to 20 (8 Story, 12 Destiny; 14 Story, 6 Destiny, etc.). Each player also selects three starting skills for characters to use in their travels. These skills are varied and diverse (Courtly Graces, Magic, Wisdom, etc.) and affect the outcome of some encounters during the game. Each player also is dealt a Quest card that gives them a direction they can pursue at the start of the game if they so wish. Quests are not required to be completed, but fulfilling them can often yield rewards in the terms of increased status, treasure, wealth, story and destiny points, or skills. They also provide a little backstory to get started in building your character’s story, which from an abstract viewpoint, is pretty helpful.

Each player starts out in the center location of Baghdad, and move around the board to have encounters at various spaces on the board. Movement rates are decided by a unique tracking system called Wealth; essentially, how wealthy you are determines how easy it is to get around in the world. There are two movement rates; one for land, and one for sea. A player uses the higher of the two numbers relative to their Wealth value to move, and the lower number determines a limit on that movement. For instance, if a character has the Poor wealth status (land rate of 3, sea rate of 2), they can move up to three spaces, with no more than two of which can be by sea. This can be important, if a quest or situation requires you to be at a certain place within an allotment of time, or if one wants to complete a quest quickly.

Encounters happen each turn, and most often happen with Encounter cards (The exception is with Places of Power, unique locations on the board that cannot be reached by normal means and have their own Encounter pages printed on the board itself). When on a standard location, an Encounter card is turned over. There are three types of encounter cards: Character, City, and Terrain. Character cards have three types of results depending on the time of day (Morning, Noon, Night), and Terrain cards have six types of results depending on the terrain you encounter them on (Mountain, Sea, Desert, Forest, Island, and City). Each of these results includes a page number as reference to turn to in the Book of Tales, or the letter N (which indicates to have an encounter on the N Reaction Matrix – a sort of generic encounter). In the case of a City Encounter, there is a single number listed at the bottom of the card as a page to turn to, but the City card is collected by the player to try to cash in another reward later if desired.

Each encounter has a reference to a Reaction Matrix. The Reaction Matrix is a method to determine a unique encounter, and is modified by a number of factors. A player having an encounter must roll a single six-sided die, add any modifiers for their current destiny value or location, and give the result to the player reading the encounter. They will look up the reaction matrix and tell the player what type of encounter they have (Angry Beggar) and what response Matrix to use, which is on their character board. A number of options will be provided as actions to take, such as Aid, Attack, Pray, Beg, etc. depending on the situation, and a page number will be associated with each in the Book of Tales. The player will select their option, then roll a special die called the Destiny Die. It has a blank face, a plus face, and a minus face. If a blank is rolled, just turn to the page number and read the result. If a plus is rolled, add one to the page number and turn to that page instead. If a minus is rolled, subtract one from the page number and turn to that page instead.

Once the page is selected, the storytelling aspect of the game comes into play. The player with the Book of Tales will read the encounter result aloud to the player having the encounter, with one of several results. If a player has a skill associated with the current encounter, they will be informed of it and asked if they wish to use it (except in cases where the skill is listed as Mandatory, in which case that result MUST be taken). If the skill is used, an alternate result is read; if not, the default No Skill result is read instead. Whatever the case, there will be an end result to the encounter of either gaining skills, points, conditions, wealth, etc. or losing those things instead.

Interestingly enough, characters can actually die as a result of encounters gone wrong. This is rare, but it does happen. If a character dies, the player moves back to Baghdad, minus the wealth, statuses, and treasure they may have accumulated. Skills, Story, and Destiny points are kept, however, preventing the death of a character from being a game-ending handicap.

The stories in the Book of Tales are short, but entertaining; there is a real feel of things happening to your character, because you are choosing what you do with a situation that arises as you go around the world. Both mundane and fantastic things can happen, including dealing with angry Djinn or being caught in a maelstrom at sea. The sheer variety of things that can happen means that there is a lot of replay factor to this game. It’s a game that more or less illustrates how things can happen in everyday life simply by being at the right place at the right time, with no real rhyme or reason to it.

Ironically, this same strength of the game can be termed a weakness. There are a number of people who play games with the goal to win that will be turned off by the game because it seems to lack a solid strategy to it. Encounters can be so random and unpredictable that there can be little to no preparation involved, and some skills or abilities can actually hinder players in certain encounters if used. But this game is about experiences and living the story rather than winning, and in that regard, this game excels.

 
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4
Book Lover
8
57 of 66 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Very strange board game... but I like it!”

First a friend of mine told me about this game, then I read a few reviews and did not know what to expect. I was very skeptical that this game will work at all – however, after I played it for the first time, I realized that I was wrong and I enjoyed it!
Some people say that this is a strange mix of board game and RPG – and this is not far from truth. You definitely have characters and your characters have some skills, they go around the board solving quests and you can choose how to react during encounters. However, players have very limited control over their actions – they simply have to trust that their choice will be the right one.
This is exactly what makes the game fun – you do not have total control and you end up in funny, hilarious, or completely bizarre situations. There is no strategy – because you never know where the adventure will take you. I mean, in a single game one player was turned to a mule and then went mad, the other player got married but then also went mad and I became rich but then spend ages in jail. As soon as you accept the fact that you have no control over what’s going to happen – you’re in for a great ride.
However, if you like strategy games, or games that have very clear mechanics, where people can out-play their opponents due to skill and thinking, then this may not be a game for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a game that is really about having a great time with your friends, this is definitely a good choice!

 
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3
Gamer - Level 3
10
49 of 57 gamers found this helpful
“Repetitively Brilliant”

Arabian Nights is a storytelling game for both avid and casual gamers. Based on the 1001 nights fairy-tales from the middle east, the game puts you in charge of a character (Aladdin & Sinbad for example) in order to tell his story.

Utilising a period map of the ‘known world’ your character can freely move across land and seas based on his/her wealth level. One arriving at your destination, based on a die roll, your current position, a card selection and amount of points gathered you have an encounter. Based on your choice of response your story progression. Due to the multiple variations that can occur due to dice rolls, card changes depending on time of day and lingering story effects, no encounter is the same. Outcomes are so varied, from sex-changes, to beast transformation, to treasure and the stumbling across rare places of power that after two years of playing the game regularly, I have never felt as though I was repeating a story.

The game is regular fun, to a unique point that when meeting in an non game environment we regularly laugh at what happened to our characters. We still laugh about crazy stories months after happening, how often does a game have that long-lasting effect.

One small point though, this game is not for power gamers. Although there is a point scoring system that allows you to win, we regularly ignore that to continue storytelling as this is the selling point of the game.

Enjoy the Game!

 
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2
Sweden
9
60 of 71 gamers found this helpful
“Real adventures in a magical Arabic setting”

A truly joyful, playful and exciting experience in a magical Arabic setting. One moment you’re skilfully fending off desert bandits, the next you feel a strange urge to drink from a stream of murky black water and then, all of a sudden, you’re locked up in jail – trying to convince the keeper to let you off the hook. In the end, you might have a happy ending where you leave the table as wealthy as a Sultan and powerful as an Efreet, or just as poor as a beggar and with the look and shape of a beast.

The game is really easy to pick up and play with anyone, no matter what their relationship to board gaming is and what previous experience they have. In fact, TofAN isn’t so much of a board game as it is an adventurous interactive story – both told and played by everyone participating, which helps endure things when the pace feels slow due to having so many participators and that’s the only real flaw about this game: that it’s pretty time consuming and one turn could take anything from a few seconds to a few minutes depending on whether you’ve been stranded somewhere with no real options to choose from or is having the adventure of your life.

But while luck plays a strong part in this game, the whole “going on a big adventure”-thing with all these encounters that are awaiting is what makes TofAN not only such a joyful and varying experience, but also accessible to anyone and a truly interesting way of playing a board game.

 
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3
Rated 25 Games
7
44 of 52 gamers found this helpful
“1001 nights or how to become a sex changed monkey”

I got this game because my wife isn’t a gamer and she likes the story and theme of games. Abstract games and the mechanics just don’t do it for her. Z-man produced this game which previously was a West End Games title dated 1985. There was also a 1985 Star Trek game that West End Games did with a similar mechanic.
You choose a character right out of the famous book 1001 Tales of Arabian Nights (other titles exist depending on translation and editions)and everyone starts in Baghdad. You basically move around the map and depending on where you end your movement a die is rolled and the storyteller (who changes for each player) reads a paragraph from the book of tales. There is then a choice that needs to be made by the active player which might be modified by whatever skills that player’s character has. The outcome of each encounter is pretty random and a character might be ***-changed or imprisoned or even changed into an animal or married. The adventures of the characters are usually rewarded with story and/or destiny markers. The first player to collect a pre-decided combination of 20 of these points and make it back to Baghdad intact wins. This is a fun storytelling game which isn’t super competitive. The whole fun of the game comes from the adventures that the characters experience, it is totally in the spirit of the book and power gamers and players who don’t like luck will probably not let themselves have fun with this, but the experience is worth a few laughs and we usually joke about it the next day and hey, how many games are you still talking about a day after you played it? It’s even fun if you don’t win, you will have a fun story to tell.
Thank you for reading my opinion.

 
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45 of 54 gamers found this helpful
“Great production values, beautiful art, but for what?”

AN was a title that I was eager to see reprinted on the strength of the word of mouth it got as a great old game, and the fact that the very talented Headless Hollow guy was involved in their art side was very encouraging. And I’m a sucker for thematic games that use game mechanics as a storytelling device, so we powered through the needlessly complex rules (seriously, just a little more distinction in the layers of tables and this game would take 2 minutes to explain instead of half an hour) and started playing.
But, frankly, I can’t say there’s much of a game there. You do things that are game-like, such as make decisions and receive results according to a combination of chance and your stats, but it’s a thin veil disguising utter randomness. You can choose a stat to use that’s wholly inappropriate for the situation from its initial appearance, and the outcome is just as likely to be harmful or beneficial as if you’d chosen what seemed to be the best fit.
I just can’t imagine this sharing a space with games that genuinely use a strong theme to create a narrative as you play, which are surprisingly common and operating at an altogether different level, and perhaps it’s my fault for walking in with the expectation that it would be at the level of your Battlestars or Arkhams or Chaos in the Old Worldseseseses.

The caveat I’ll add is that I can see this being fun for an adult playing with young children, assuming s/he pulls a Princess Bride and edits the storytelling as needed rather than randomly murdering little Tommy for failing to roll dice more successfully. Personally, I’d rather just read one of the many variations on the actual stories with a child, depending on their age, and not risk ruining what is a beautiful conceit for storytelling with a game that belongs in the history books alongside King’s Quest games and other dated experiences.

 
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6
I play red
10
69 of 90 gamers found this helpful
“10/10 Would Play Again”

I had been waiting to get my hands on this game ever since I saw the review of it over at Shut Up and Sit Down.
(hope that link works…)

I convinced my friend to buy it since I was low on funds; Tales retails at around $60, not the most expensive game out there but also not cheap for a college student.

It was the best gaming decision any of us had made in a long time.

Tales of Arabian nights is magical. After poking around in the rulebook for a bit we were on our way exploring the lands of Arabia and Europa and Asia and beyond.

Each turn in Tales you move your person (as far as your wealth will allow) and then you draw an encounter card. You might encounter anything from magical rain to a mad wizard to a foolish hag.

There are (roughly) a bazillion different things you might encounter. It’s awesome.

Then you simply choose how to respond to whatever it is you’ve encountered.

(I don’t recommend trying to drink the magic rain.)

The player to your right figures out what paragraph is associated with your particular response to whatever you’ve encountered using an easy to understand response matrix reference sheet, and the player to your left finds that paragraph in a massive Book of Tales and reads to you what happened.

Simple as that.

And it’s amazing.

So many funny and awesome things can happen. There are other elements to the game like statuses that affect what you can do or how people might perceive you.

You also gain story points and destiny points throughout the game, working up to a goal you set for yourself at the beginning of the game.

First to reach that goal wins.

But as we played we didn’t even want to win! We were having so much fun reading from the book and laughing at each other’s misfortunes we wanted the game to keep going!

I gave this game a replay value of 5 stars but it should really be 50 stars.

The components are fine. The map is pretty and neat. The only problem we had was wedging our cardboard figures into their stands. That was way harder than it should have been.

BUY THIS GAME IF: You love laughing, having adventures, coping with the unexpected, telling tales, having a unique experience unlike any other.

AVOID THIS GAME IF: You need strategy in your game. Tales doesn’t have a lot of strategy. You just sort of go with the flow and see what happens (more or less. You’re not completely helpless.)

If you’re afraid of reading out loud in front of people or reading dramatically.

If you don’t like fun.

 
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2
I play blue
7
64 of 84 gamers found this helpful
“A fun experience but strategists should steer clear”

Before you read any further you should be aware that if you’re looking for a game with even the slightest hint of strategy, do not look here.

That being said, TotAN is a lot of fun. The Book of Tales is exquisitely written and clearly a lot of time went into it’s design. The sheer volume of possible outcomes to your decisions means you’re certain to have a different experience each time you play.

It’s a very accessible game, though for non-gamers it can seem daunting at first, with no real clue as to how to achieve the game-winning objective. A sequence of bad outcomes can easily cause a swift loss of interest for a new player believing they are losing through their own means, so it’s very important to stress that this game revolves around the developing stories of the characters you play. Once everyone is on board with this, the game is much more enjoyable.

Overall it’s a nice change to the norm, with TotAN unlikely to be similar to anything else you already own. The steep asking price if easily off-putting though, so before you commit make absolutely sure this one will be a hit with your gaming group!

 
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2
Supporter
10
47 of 62 gamers found this helpful
“One of the most fun games around”

Be sure to check out the storytelling variant over at Zman Games’ website. This game is just incredibly fun and entertaining. One of the few out there that leave everyone talking about it for hours, days, or weeks afterwards. Also check out the Shut Up and Sit Down video review because they do a great job of walking you through how great it is.

The rules are simple, and although things “happen at you” all of choices and consequences are fully yours. The Book of Tales is absolutely enormous and leads to some great and funny moments. Playtime is upwards of two hours, but you’ll never experience the same game twice. Do yourself a favor and go buy this game now.

 
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1
I'm a Real Person
 
43 of 63 gamers found this helpful
“Choose your own adventure - Not a strategy game!”

Less a game and more of a storytelling experience on a board, in this game you will experience a large array of fantastic adventures set in Arabia. Strategic decisions are few and far between — most decisions are simply two different actions in the story, with a seemingly random result. However, if you just want to immerse yourself in theme and experience a great story you can help drive, this is an amazing game. On the other hand, if you are looking for more, skip this game. I hesitate to call this a game; think of it more as a storytelling experience.

 
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4
Rated 25 Games
7
43 of 73 gamers found this helpful
“With the right group, this is fun.”

I would like to see more games like this with a different setting. Incorporate this in a war game and wow, you would have me there.

 
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2
Critic - Level 2
7
43 of 73 gamers found this helpful
“An experience fit for a sultan!”

The greatest caveat with this game is that you cannot think that you have any control over winning. The game is fraught with randomness, seemingly arbitrary changes in your character’s status, wealth, and prospects for the future. Having said all that, the stories that you will tell in the course of an evening will not soon be forgotten. A worthy, unique addition to any collection.

 
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3
Gamer - Level 3
9
43 of 75 gamers found this helpful
“So it ain't chess. So what?”

Every time we play this game there is laughter and fun. A completely unique (sadly) game similar to choose your own adventure stories. If you’re too serious for this, I feel sorry for you.

 

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