Published by Schaff Studio, Fable's End is an expandable combat card game where players are attacking each other's cards and consigning them to a losses pile. Each card has a 'skull' value and the winner is the player with the lowest total of skulls in their loss pile at the end of the game: triggered when a player's loss pile has a skull total of 20 or more, or if a player has seven shields in their tableau. The game is played with pre-constructed decks and the preview copy of the core set we've been playing and which is shown here on Board's Eye View had four different themed pre-constructed decks (Arabian Nights, Vampires, Nautical and Fantasy). We've so far only played Fable's End in its head-to-head duel mode but Schaff Studio plan to add a multiplayer option.
You'll be playing cards to your individual tableau which is made up of three ranks: a frontline, a 'phalanx' of shields and a rearguard. Shields are needed to post units to your rearguard, and if you don't have shield cards you can substitute a face-down card as a proxy. At the start of each turn, you discard your frontline cards to your discard pile. Unit cards have a set points value but when you compare attacking and defending units, you also compare the symbols on the cards. These use a rock/paper/scissors mechanic, with the winning card adding 1000 to their printed value. The winner of the contest returns to your frontline or hand, depending on the type of attack, and the losing card goes to the loser's loss pile. In the event of a tie, both cards are lost. Depending on how you play the cards in your hand, you may be able to make use of the text on the card, which typically give a bonus to the attack value or an extra card draw provided the conditions in the text are met.
You're not just attacking each other's unit cards, you can also attack each other's story cards. When these are flipped they introduce a modification for the round. Attacks on the story cards are cumulative and, as with unit and shield cards, defeated cards get consigned to their owner's loss pile where their skull values will add to the totals.
We've enjoyed the healthy mix of strategy and luck in Fable's End. You have choices over whether or not to place out shields: if you have fewer shields than an opponent then you get the benefit of an added card draw but lack of shields limits the cards you can play... There are strategic choices too over how you put your units into play and how you use them in attack. With a Challenge attack from your frontline, you can confidently predict the outcome but if you make a 'Breakthrough' attack it's against a card drawn at random from your opponent's hand, so that may prove to be a push-your-luck contest. The game incorporates mechanics at the end of each turn for 'burying' a unit in your loss pile. That's a way of mitigating losses by flipping over a card with a high skull value so that its skull value is reduced to 1.
Fable's End is coming shortly to Kickstarter. That's great news for those in the USA but the sad news for others is that Schaff Studio are only going to be offering US fulfilment. Fable's End is a good combat card game so let's hope they find a distributor or retail partner to help them bringing the game to an international audience. In any event, we'll add a link to the KS campaign when it goes live.