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Popular Storytelling Board Games (Mechanic)

These are the board games with the Storytelling mechanic.
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Theme and Storytelling Like| 6 comments | [+]
The Wormworld Saga - Is Cinematic Art and Storytelling The Key to Viral Content and Board Game Adaptation? image
The Wormworld Saga - Is Cinematic Art and Storytelling The Key to Viral Content and Board Game Adaptation? [The Mysterious Forest]Like| 3 comments | [+]
ReviewBefore There Were Stars Storytelling Game Overview (http://www.sahmreviews.com/2019/01/smirk-and-laughter-before-there-were-stars.html) [Before There Were Stars...]Like| 0 comments | [+]
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I started bringing games to play with my 4th grade Sunday school class!  They always have a box of games provided but like many classroom boxes none of the games have the complete set of pieces.  So I decided to just bring my own every week.  Last week we played several games of #Tsuro which went over very well.  This week I brought #Animal Upon Animal and #Bites.  Bites we played our first game with no chocolate or wine pieces and then introduced those into our second game.  Both games seemed be well recieved. 

Any other recommendations?  They need to play relatively quickly, like 15 min or less becuase we're just playing during free time.  Next week I'm going to bring #Tak for one girl who beats everyone at #Connect 4, even the teachers.  I also was thinking about #Kingdomino or #Lanterns: The Harvest Festival?  Should I try out #Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game?  I think #Poetry For Neanderthals would also be good but I don't own that one. 

Out of your list, there is no question: #Now or Never is at the top! My memories of playing #Above and Below and the campaign for #Near and Far with my boys are great memories, lots of laughter and competitiveness and storytelling.  Can't wait to see what the next chapter brings.

On my personal list, I've got a bunch: https://boardgamegumbo.wordpress.com/2021/01/01/board-game-gumbo-most-anticipated-games-of-2021/

But the two that are on top of that list, if I had to rank them, would be #Legends of Sleepy Hollow and #Mandala Stones.  Sleepy Hollow has been so long in the making, and I adore the American look and story. Can't wait to play. As for Mandala Stones, it has been a while since #Azul and #Reef and #Sagrada got me as abstracts, and I haven't played one that really caught me since then (although #Shobu came close). Mandala Stones is the next great classic abstract, a game you will swear you've played before and forever. 

I will second #Codenames for sure. Also a big fan of #Pandemic and #King of Tokyo for this purpose. 

I didn't see these mentioned but for non-gamers we also like #Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game and #Dixit.  We describe Once Upon a Time as cooperative competitive story telling.  Basically everyone has a hand of cards with story elements on them (castle, princess, potion, etc.) and the group has to tell a story together and play the cards as part of their story.  There are "interrupt" cards where another player seizes control of the story line and then segues it to something where they can use their own cards.  It can get pretty hilarious. 

I know I have a bunch of others since I actually make a point of owning a bunch of games for this purpose but I guess I haven't played them in so long they are eluding me. 

Nice selections! I'm one of those people who jumped straight into Clank! Legacy without any Clank! experience. It shot right up into my top 5 games after game 1 :)

I like deck-building when the mechanic isn't the entire game (e.g. Dominion) so Clank! was a natural choice. The storytelling and the choices it presents to the players are very fun and I love the randomness involved (some people don't like that about Clank! though)

My #1 for this list would be #Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile

#Tapestry does this with the #Tapestry: Plans and Ploys expansion. At least, it uses the solo variant as a mini campaign. I've played the first one (been wanting to finish for a while) and read through the others, and while it's not super storytelling, it's certainly a narrative, and I can appreciate that. Plus, Tapestry plays really well solo so these additional scenarios work to increase that awesomeness but changing things up.

I agree with what people have said so far.  Social deduction, any game that is "mean" or has lots of "take that" to it, definitely.  Also humor can be a weird defining factor.  I have a few specific examples of this that stand out in my mind. 

  • Personally, I can't play #Cards Against Humanity.  I know taboo is supposed to make things edgy funny, but I feel like there are some things in that deck that just shouldn't be laughed at. 
  • I played the game of #Things... with one group several times and we all thought it was hilarious.  Then brought it to another group and it completely fell flat.  I tried making the same types of jokes as before and no one could see why it was funny.  
  • Oddly enough, #Apples to Apples was another one that had something like this happen.  My family tried to bring it to an extended family gathering because we thought it was a no-brainer.  Very simple premise, easy to understand, will be great with a bunch of non-gamers.  They played it straight literal the whole time.  It was terrible.  We'd try putting something weird in there or pandering to the judge and no one understood what we were trying to do. 

So yeah, if it can happen with something as basic as Apples to Apples, apparently the right sense of humor is very important in gameplay haha. 

Another game that comes to mind is one I've mentioned a few times here before.  #Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game you have to have kind of a gentlemen's agreement with the other players about not spamming your cards trying super hard to "win" the game.  (The rules do specifically say not to do this, but its kind of up to the group to say what playing your cards too fast is.)  This is definitely a game that's more about the journey than the end result. 

What about #Exploding Kittens?  That one is always good for some quick fun.  I like #Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game as well, but I think that one is more dependent on your group.  Oooh and #Hanabi and #Jaipur

Saw some interesting feedback on Facebook:

"Out of those two. Unlock because they have more of a narrative even if only a weak one. Exit is purely just puzzles. However might I suggest an alternative? Consider the Escape Tales sets from Board & Dice - to date they have the best narratives for any escape room games." - Luke Hector

"Exit are better. The puzzles are better designed" - Nathan Woll

"We enjoy both just about equally. Exit for its use of physical objects, and Unlock for its ongoing evolution. We have done every single one of each (minus the two most recent exits which are on the shelf!) and honestly not too many are super memorable and some we played years ago. Two that stand out were both Unlock: Insert Coin (Heroic Adventures), and Lost in the ChronoWarp (Timeless Adventures). Both of these boxes had other good ones too (Sherlock in Heroic was great, and both the others in timeless were good as well). The exit games all feel fairly equal in my mind-- though some of the newer ones have puzzles where I think they were going for innovative and different, but end up just feeling kinda obtuse and unsatisfying. I'd say though, overall you can't go wrong with either. For unlock I'd say avoid the train robbery one and the arabian nights one, those were both pretty bad." - Tamara Dorn

"I slightly prefer Unlock. My group does fewer facepalms in their games, and if it matters, Unlock is usually reusable and Exit usually isn't." - Tammy McLeod

"Unlock is my favorite. The puzzles make more sense for me. That being said, the games are hit and miss. I enjoyed Squeek and Sausage, The Lab and the pack pictured in your post." - Michelle Rundbaken

"I prefer the EXIT series over Unlock - Unlock is more about the story and combining object-cards to advance, Exit has more focus on puzzles and the possibility to "destroy" elements (draw, cut, fold) makes the game much more varied" - Anna Vargane Kis

"I prefer exit way over unlock. I really like the way they use all the elements in the box" - Joeri Jacobs

"We still play all the new EXITs, but the novelty of using components the way they do ran out many boxes ago. Unlock! has been using some very fun AR lately, so I’m more interested in them, but will continue buying both." - Jessy Catterwaul

"Prefer exit over unlock however I’ve done many exits (and have enjoyed them all) and only did 1 unlock and thought it was one of the worst play at home games I’ve ever played" - Eric Ackley

"I prefer exit but I've found frustration with both to varying degrees just due to the limitations they make. The puzzles are better in Exit." - Steven Webb

"Exit games are basically a series of 3 digit codes concealed in a myriad of ways ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Fun to a point." - Trev Heath

"Both have pros and cons. As time has passed, Unlock has evolved into a superior series with much greater theme, storytelling, and variety. Exit has conversely become redundant. Your first few plays will be good though, if you get a good one. Check Board Game Geek for ratings. They are pretty reliable." - Ben Matlock

"We also play both as a family but Unlock is our favourite. It really has improved with each release in terms of puzzles and how the app is used. Exit is great but having done a few now (first 2 series) we are noticing the same kind of tricks getting used over again. I am interested to see how some of the newer Exit games have changed it up though." - Marc Alderman

"I like Unlock more because the Exit puzzles require ridiculous leaps of logic." - Mikey Golczynski

"Unlock are more coherent in there stories. I don’t like Exit as they tend to not go together. Bonus Unlocked can be shared with friends when done." - Kristina Platypus Schaeffer

"We prefer Exit. We found unlock to have seemingly random leaps of logic that even after getting the solution to the puzzle we find ourselves irritated because there was no way we could have figured it out on our own from the clues we were given. Even if I can’t solve the puzzle without hints, I want to know that I *could* have if I were just a little smarter 😝 and we never got that feeling from Unlock. With Exit you get that lightbulb moment when getting a hint (or on the expert levels sometimes even the solution) where you go 'oooh!! So *that’s* how you get the answer!'" - Rochelle Muller Wilson

"I’ve played all of both. I used to say Exit was better in terms of puzzles and cleverness but Unlock has been getting more inventive I think and I’ve enjoyed the two most box sets more. Love both of them as a series, highly recommend if you’re looking for an escape room in a box idea. In both, some games are better than others and you won’t get any agreement on here about which ones are better that’s for sure! 🤣 in exit, if you’re playing for the first time, get one of the 2 star difficulty ones. They tend to be linear (1 puzzle at a time) and then you’ll learn how they work. With unlock, the first one in each box set is easier, so do them first." - Leah Breeds

"I've played several from both. In general, I have found Unlock smoother in implementation than many of the puzzles in Exit. Feels like more thought was put into user experience." - Josh Derksen

"I have strong opinions about Unlock. I LOVE playing them and I will only play them by myself because I'm THAT type A. I do own them all and I have played all but 3, (saving them, I guess?) My favorite was the Heroic adventures because of the side-scroller video game version. It was the most creative, IMO. I also love the werewolf one in the "7" series, and Nautilus. The only one I didn't care for is Scheherezade, but it's possible I just didn't have the right attitude that day." - Emily Labéjof


love storytelling in games! My favorite games are those with a strong theme, which certainly helps. I agree that flavor text helps a lot. And I think #Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 was one of the best storytelling games I've ever played! The narrative that drove the gameplay was a lot of fun, and it felt more than just a game. 

I love games like #Above and Below and #Near and Far because they give you options within the realm of the ongoing story. And games like #Western Legends puts you in charge of your character to create your own story. I'd say theme plays a large role in all games with good storytelling, but it's the thematic games that have mechanics that relate to the theme that are the real winners. 

I actually just started a new website/channel for storytelling within board games. It's called Board Game Immersion, and I just started it at the beginning of August. I like to write short stories inspired by board games, and storytelling will be a big part of this site and channel. That's how much I love storytelling in games haha

Storytelling through gameplay. #Xia: Legends of a Drift System has been super fun for that.

Space. I like space. 

Critters.  I don't really have any games with critters, but I'm always interested in them.  Watership Down always holds a good place in my imagination, so I still have hopes of some day playing Aftermath.

Dinosaurs. I used to have pencil bags full of little dino mini toys when I was a kid, which naturally fed into my draw to #Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles... I did try it on tabletopia just to address my fears that I only wanted to back it because of dinos, and I really enjoy Anachrony, but I'd be lying to myself if I didn't admit that the dinos won't make me feel like a kid again.

Anything uncommon.  Themes that are different than a lot of games will usually draw me in even if I'm not that interested in the theme initially.

I pretty always impulse buy if I find a game in a charity shop, if I don't know the game I will usually google it and if it has an average rating above a 6.5/10 and the theme/mechanics appeal I will usually take it, I always figure that if I get one game out of it, even if it is laughably bad then it is worth the £2-£5 I pay for it.

Winners from Charity shops have been: #King of Tokyo (great gateway game), #Gloom, #War on Terror (hilariously satirical, a better version of risk), #Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game (just a wonderful group activity)

Games that I have only played once or twice and then passed on: #Smash Up (liked it but realised it just wouldn't get played much), #Game of Thrones: The Card Game (again, it wasn't bad, but wasn't looking to get into a CCG) #Munchkin (similar story, not good enough to see regular play, knew a friend of mine would enjoy it a lot more)

I have occaisionally been suckered in on a great deal on Ebay, I am now much more discerning but when I first had disposable income, I was picking up any interesting looking games if I felt I was getting a good deal. I buy most of my games second hand, but the following are games I didin't search for and just came across.

Winners: #The Grizzled (so good and bought for like £2, a small co-op which I haven't found many of), #Choson (set collection with a bunch of take that, quick but wonderfully tactical, aslo bought it for £1.20 so can't complain), #Supervillain: This Galaxy Is Mine! (stayed on my shelf of shame for a long time, one I will write about this week)

Losers: #The Staufer Dynasty (I really need to give this another chance, but it was just a little dry first time around)

I think I go through phases of a particular theme/mechanic really appealing. However, Asymmetry is a massive pull for me, and any kind of deck/engine building being incorporated, or just generally upgrading your faciont/character, this doesn't have to be the core mechanic, but I like to growth in a game.