Stats at a glance
Publisher: Plaid Hat Games
Imagine the most dastardly, horrifying, ghoulish place ever known to man.
Nope, I’m not talking about Pan’s Labyrinth. Or the Arkham Asylum. Or even the Dementor-ridden Azkaban. I’m talking about somewhere all these monstrous places come together and collide.
That’s right. We’re going under your childhood bed.
Check out the full Stuffed Fables Board Game Review below:
Brief Overview of Stuffed Fables
Stuffed Fables is a co-operative adventure game for two-to-four players, in which you take on the role of ‘stuffies’ – a group of toys that come to life when the lights go out.
Your job, as protectors of a little girl who has just graduated to her ‘big girl bed’, is to save her from the Nightmare King and his ghastly minions that live beneath it.
With seven stories to play, the game is very narrative-driven. However, there’s plenty of decisions to make as your characters explore the map, attack minions, and search for items using a simple dice-rolling mechanic.
Either you’ll save the little girl from her nightmares. Or you’ll end up like Flops and Lumpy, the toy rabbit and elephant… stuffed.
Unboxing Stuffed Fables
Stuffed Fables is full of odds and ends that might feel more at home in your kitchen’s ‘everything’ drawer. Luckily, this can make replacing lost pieces a bit easier. On opening the box, you’ll find:
- 1 Rulebook
- 1 Storybook
- 40 Discovery Deck Cards
- 1 Sideboard
- 6 Stuffy Miniatures
- 17 Minion Miniatures
- 35 Dice
- 1 Dice Bag
- 15 Buttons
- 149 other cards
- 57 tokens
One thing’s for sure, Stuffed Fables is a good-looking game. I loved the artwork on the box, cards, and storybook. The subtle, paintlike colors and graphics neatly evoke the sense of a child’s room at night. While the scenes throughout the storybook, and on the box, too, are simply beautiful.
The character designs, especially, are fantastic. Each individual stitch and stuffing bubble is carefully drawn, and their visible personalities wonderfully bring them to life.
It’s a fantastic mix of playful, childlike imagery, combined with an unnerving sense of doom. And it’s this element of seriousness that clinches it for me – after all, these are some serious monsters we’re talking about.
The beautiful artwork is supplemented by really high-quality components. The storybook is printed on strong, sturdy paper, and uses one of those metal, spiral binders to make it really easy to turn the pages without causing damage or creasing.
And, as miniatures go, the plastic characters included are of fantastic quality, too. Some of the minions were genuinely quite creepy. While, again, the personality that the characters show in how they’re depicted greatly contributes to the story.
Another nice touch is the buttons, which act as a currency in the game. Rather than simple cardboard tokens, you get actual multicolored buttons!
Regardless of how the game plays, this is one fantastically-produced game, which the developers have clearly taken great pride in.
How to Play Stuffed Fables
First off, everyone picks a stuffie character to play and takes their matching figure, along with five stuffing tokens, which represent your health. Each stuffie has a special ability they can use, with three others that they can unlock.
Then create the three-card sleep deck by shuffling the Waking card together with two random sleep cards, and placing it face down. You should also shuffle the item, minion, and lost decks.
The main play area is where you should place the storybook, with the sideboard placed – you guessed it – to the side.
Select a first player by giving them the bookmark token, and then pick the story you want to play. Each story has its own map, with a specific starting space and various other points of interest you should familiarize yourself with.
Now you’re ready to go!
There are six steps to your turn:
- Draw five dice at random from the bag.
- Find stuffing – roll any white die you drew. If the result is equal to or higher than your level of stuffing, gain one stuffing.
- Place threat – put any black die on the threat track.
- Perform actions – now you can use all the remaining dice to perform their actions, explained in detail below.
- Discard any remaining dice.
- Check threat – If the threat level is the same as or higher than the number of minions on the board, the minions take a turn.
Once you’ve finished, and, if called for, the minions have had a turn, play passes on to the next player.
The actions you can take on your turn depend on the dice you picked out the bag. Each time you attempt to take an action, you must roll and hope for success. Usually, you will have a target amount you must reach to be successful. You can choose to roll two dice of the same color together to try and get a higher result or roll as two separate actions. You could also draw purple dice from the bag, which are wild.
- Movement – move down a path that matches the color of the die.
- Reserve – hold on to a die for a future turn.
- Encourage –helping one of your fellow stuffies by giving them extra stuffing, or let them reserve the die.
- Skill test – attempt a skill test that matches your die’s color. Skill tests will crop up in all kinds of places in the storybook or on the cards.
- Group task – attempt a group task. These work like skill tests but can be contributed to by multiple stuffies on different turns.
- Attack – attack minions adjacent to you on the map, unless it’s a ranged attack.
- Search – search for items that will help you on your quest.
After some player turns, the minions may get a chance to strike back. In this instance, each minion is activated in turn by taking a die off of the threat track, rolling it, and performing the actions as described on the card.
The minions will hunt down and attack your stuffies. If a stuffie loses all of its stuffing, it becomes ‘collapsed’ and cannot take any actions until it gains stuffing in the draw dice stage of its turn.
Winning the game
Players advance through the story as instructed and try to complete the quest as directed by the storybook. On the way, they will battle minions and complete skills tests, along with finding lost toys you can help and other points of interest (explained further below).
Should all stuffies be collapsed at the same time, your merry band of cuddly toys is defeated. However, if you reach the end of your quest, then you will be victorious and live to fight another day!
Your First Game of Stuffed Fables
It’s worth noting a few of the extra icons you’ll find when moving around the map.
Along your journey through the dark house, you’ll encounter ‘The Lost’ – an unfortunate toy that has somehow found itself split from the herd and has been stranded ever since. This is your chance to save it!
These are represented by a speech mark token on the board. When your player moves through one of these, stop your movement and read a Lost card aloud. Your group will have some kind of decision to make and, often, receive a reward if you save the lost toy. Although, as the rulebook rightly notes, “sometimes a simple thanks is all you will get. Such is the nature of giving.”
You may also pass a ‘Point of Interest’ icon on the board. In this instance, there will be a description of what to do in your storybook should you want to explore it.
Pros & Cons
- Amazing storyline and theme
- Perfect entry-level co-operative for kids
- Great level of interaction
- Ideally would be more stories to play
- Simplicity means it will be easy for all-adult groups
Stuffed Fables is a fantastic introduction to the world of cooperative games for kids. The focus on sharing, especially, compels players to think differently about how to approach a game, alongside teaching some valuable life lessons. Whether it’s sharing your die with another player or using it to give them extra stuffing, tackling a group task together, leveraging each other’s special abilities, or finding a party item that everyone can use, Stuffed Fables is a real group effort, and I felt all the more warm and cuddly inside afterward for it.
The dice test system that forms the base of the mechanics is very basic and would feel repetitive in a game targeted at adults. However, it’s simplicity works to its benefit, in this case, allowing younger players to easily learn the rules. This helps reduce distractions from the story itself, letting younger players really engage with as it develops.
And this is important, because it’s the story that I think makes Stuffed Fables stand out. It’s written like a true children’s classic, with stunning imagery, smart metaphors, compelling characters, and wholesome lessons for life.
An Adventure for All-Ages
But it’s not just the kids that will enjoy it. The story-telling – and game as a whole – will be a big hit among adults, too. It’s superbly written, with a gripping narrative and witty charm that would make Pixar – the kings of ‘fun for all the family’ – proud. Certainly, considering the central toy and dream/nightmare themes, strong parallels can be drawn between Pixar’s Toy Story, Monsters Inc, and Inside Out.
I liked how deep the theme runs, too. From the button currency to stuffing tokens, everything’s hilariously cute.
Where it could perhaps improve is replayability. You are only given seven stories, which don’t quite have the flexibility to feel like a different game were you to replay them.
This probably isn’t a big deal for the kids. As someone that rewatched 1996’s cult family film Dunston Checks In at least 70 times as a child, I can confirm new content wasn’t much of a priority for me back then if I liked something. For adults, though, its lifetime is limited. The focus is very much on quality, rather than quantity. But hey, if it keeps the kids entertained for an hour…
Stuffed Fables is a co-operative, story-based adventure game in which players must complete quests and defeat evil minions hiding under a little girl’s bed.
With most of the gameplay based around a simple dice-rolling mechanic, it’s a great entry-level game for families to enjoy. Also, with a big focus on sharing and helping each other out, it’s very interactive.
The real treat, though, is the enchanting stories themselves, which will have you captivated from page one.
I’ve blabbed on endlessly about how engaging and rich Stuffed Fables’ story is (and it really is). But, even with that aside, it still stands up as a superb family game.
The mechanics may be simple, but there are enough actions and decisions involved to keep it interesting. Similarly, there’s a lot of interaction that takes place, which is impressive for a game so straightforward. All in all, this makes it a top-level co-operative experience for younger gamers, tied together with beautiful storytelling, artwork, and components.
That said, it probably won’t be enough to make it suitable for a group of only adults. Not because of the theme – I may be a 29-year-old, childless, single man, but even I can enjoy a good bedtime story about some toys that come to life – but because it is very easy.
If you have kids, then I can’t recommend Stuffed Fables enough as a source of some interactive and engaging family fun. If you don’t have any kids, then Stuffed Fables is definitely a good incentive to get some.
Have you tried Stuffed Fables? We’d love to hear what you think. Drop a comment below!
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A passionate traveller as well as a gamer, Joe is trying to play board games in as many countries as possible. No surprise, two of his favourite games are travel-friendly Tiny Epic Galaxies and Coup. But when in his home town of London, Libertalia and Secret Hitler are currently top billing.