Pencil First Games
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In a world where a cinematic representation of Daredevil is actually cool, can a storytelling game with a dice rolling mechanic also work and actually be a fun game? The Siblings Trouble aims to answer this question with a very positive “Yes!” Eduardo Baraf, the creator of The Siblings Trouble, may not have the budget that Marvel did to turn Daredevil into a hit, but he did work for Disney so he knows a thing or two about manufacturing fun.
The Siblings Trouble is, at its core, a card-driven story telling game. The number of cards, the different types cards, and the artwork (and text) on the cards is very impressive and does lend to creating quite the story. Based on the criteria of being a tool used to tell a fantastical story, The Siblings Trouble earns top marks. In the base game there are three locations to choose from where your story will take place. There’s the Hillside Cave, Ancient Forest, and Mystic Waters. Each of these locations has their own set of baddies, scary creatures, hazards, perilous events, wondrous treasures, and even monster bosses to overcome. And, to ensure a decent degree of replayability, each location has two boss creatures, so you’ll at least want to play through every location at least twice. But, the replayability factor doesn’t stop there, oh no, the number of secrets to uncover, treasure to find, and creatures to best is far more than you’ll use in any single game. It might take you three or four plays of a location to actually see all of the cards for that particular set.
As mentioned above, there will be a pile of unused cards in each game. In the first part of setting up the game, you’ll choose one of four available characters to represent you in the game. The available choices are Adventure, Danger, Mischief, and Mayhem. Each has their own unique ability and reference card. After that, you’ll create an Adventure Deck that will be used as the draw pile for the game. Creating the Adventure Deck is a very specific process and helps to ensure a nice progression between locations and enemies. It also adds story hooks to tie everything (main baddie, the treasure, and how you discovered them) together. Players take turns drawing a card from the Adventure Deck and crafting a story based on the card that they drew. Depending on the card, there might be a dice roll that ultimately determines the outcome, which should be worked into the story.
During our first adventure, we journeyed through the Hillside Cave. How did we find the caves you ask? As Adventure and Mayhem, we were minding our own business in the woods behind our house when we came across a rabid beaver. Of course, the rabid beaver starting chasing us, as rabid beavers do, and we hightailed it away from the dreadful thing without question. Not really paying attention to where we were going, we just wanted to get away from the foul beast at our heals, we entered part of the wood we’d never bothered exploring before. As the rabid beaver began to gain on us, we decided to jump through a row of bushes that formed a kind of hedgerow. To our surprise, the hedgerow hid the entrance to the Cave. For some reason, the rabid beaver didn’t follow us inside. Perhaps it knew what lurked in the darkness further inside the cave.
And that is how our story began. The rabid beaver was my wife’s handy work and set the tone for the rest of the story. It was unexpected, humorous, and allowed us to have a lot of fun with the game. As we ventured farther into the cave battling bats, tiptoeing around trolls, and trying not to get cursed, the game really sucked us in. It was quite enjoyable drawing a card each turn and coming up with a fitting story. And actually, the real joy for me was listening to my wife come up with impressive ways of getting us out of trouble.
Some cards that you draw will have you roll a custom dice. The outcome of your roll should be incorporated into your story. While the dice look nice, my wife and I both found this process to often be contrary to the story we were developing. And you’ll also have to roll dice to defeat any creatures you might encounter. After you receive a few negative start tokens it becomes very difficult to defeat a creature on your own. Luckily, if the other players haven’t been sent home, they can lend a hand and help conquer whatever enemies lie in your path. Should you lose an encounter, you’ll be sent home. If all players are sent home at the same time, the game ends. Frequently enough, the dice seemed to want to tell an opposing story to the one the players wanted to tell. This problem is common enough in other similar games where an emphasis is placed on “roll playing” as opposed to “role playing”. While this minor issue knocked the wind out of our sails on occasion, it didn’t ever really take away from the fun of the game.
Since I received a print on demand copy of the game for review, I cannot comment on the quality of the components that will come with the final production. However, the rule book, cards, tokens, and dice that I did receive all look quite nice. The rulebook is easy to understand and even includes an example story and examples of game play. This makes a great primer for those new to storytelling games.
Overall, The Siblings Trouble is certainly worth checking out. Head over to the Kickstarter page now and let Eduardo know that Daredevil isn’t the only “Man (or Woman) Without Fear” by pledging today.