The Damsel’s Tale preview

It’s a simple task; go retrieve a crown. Unfortunately it is guarded by a dragon. Luckily it’s a particularly sleepy dragon! Unfortunately the dragon’s baby is all too awake, and ready to warn its mother. Luckily you are the sneakiest knight in all the land! Can you grab that crown, or will you be tonight’s dinner?

The Damsel’s Tale is a 2 player management game from Red Genie Games. It is part of The Vague World series, the same setting as their last offering The Brigade. Red Genie Games helpfully provided me with a preview copy of the game, so I could really come to grips with what the game will be like. It is designed by Josh Sommerfeld, Paul Nicholas and Alex Wynnter.

The Damsel’s Tale preview

One player takes the role of the Knight, while the other the Baby Dragon. The Knight player is attempting to move along a path, reaching the crown at the end. While the Baby Dragon player is desperately trying to rouse its mother enough for her to make it to the end of her track, spot the Knight, and deal with the interloper.

In order to do this both players have a hand of six cards. Each turn two cards are randomly discarded, with the remaining four used to manipulate the board. Most card abilities are concerned with movement, either of the Knight or the Mother Dragon. Though some effect Panic. Panic is a small track on the side of the board. The current indicated number is the amount of spaces the Knight advances with each move action.

As the Knight moves on the board they will encounter hidden and noisy spaces. Hidden spaces immediately end the Knights current move, and protect the warrior should the Mother Dragon reach the end of her track. Where as noisy spaces alert the Mother Dragon, immediately moving the drake the number of footstep indicated on the next drawn Mumma Dragon card.

The Damsel’s Tale preview

It’s a really simple idea, with a minimal amount of pieces and setup. And yet it appears to contain some quite deep decision making gameplay. At least for the size of the game. It forces players to not only interpret the board, but read their opponent. Each role, Knight or Baby Dragon, seem to have key similarities, so that learning to play with one makes swapping to the other role straight forward.  But there is substantial difference between what the decks do that the roles feel and play in unique ways.

The copy I had included some of the finished artwork, and it was great to see the character Red Genie Games intends to inject into the title. Both the card and board art has been illustrated by Senitra Thompson in a colourful and whimsical way. She has quite skilfully created each image so that they embody a fantasy and fairy tale feel, while not losing a sense of danger and immediacy.

There is a few little wonky parts, on the production side, in the preview copy. Such as some text or icons being hard to read on some cards, and the playing pieces provided were just cubes. But the rule book indicates some custom meeples, and tweaking graphic design is always ongoing right up until production, so I am confident most if not all of issues like these will be addressed.

I like that Red Genie Games are looking at what can be done with a solely 2 player game. While variable player count games are more common, how many times have you taken a 2+ players game to the table with the minimum player count? Probably more than you realise. So it is exciting to see someone exploring this space and building a game specifically tailored to this kind of experience.

Currently The Damsel’s Tale is planned to hit Kickstarter some time in February. You can follow Red Genie Games on their Facebook page to keep up to date with all the latest news on the game.

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