Fog of Love
Fog of Love is a 2 player card game where the players are using card play to tell the story of their love affair, from the first sparks of attraction to the hopefully happy ending. All the things that can happen in between may or may not happen, fights, reconciliation, meeting the in laws, children, you just never know.
First things first just to get this out of the way as I know this will be the first thought among some people. Fog of Love is much more than just a game that tells a story, there are choices to be made in this that ultimately lead to one of the three possible endings. Both players can win, one player can win, or neither can win, it just all depends on how they play their cards and where they take their relationship.
I’m not going to go to in depth with the setup here, I think I’ll add a video of that to show the setup, just know that the setup is ultimately where you start the game. You do have choices to make here that will ultimately help determine what direction you take the relationship. So in essence, the game starts as soon as you start setting up. The first choice you get to make is the scenario, now, we only had 2 scenarios in the preview copy but there will be more. The scenario sets the four chapters of the game, we’ll talk about that more in a minute.
After you decide on the scenario everyone goes ahead and chooses color and decides on the sex of their character they are playing. Based on that choice some story cards may or may not need to be removed from the game.
Then, we get down to the choices that need to be made, think of this as “rolling” your character if you were playing an RPG. You get to decide on some traits that may, or may not, carry with you for the rest of the game. Your traits are yours and yours alone, you do not share this information with your partner. The traits will give you some direction in where you want your choice points to go on the game board, which we’ll discuss later. Each player gets 5 random traits from the trait deck and gets to keep 3, the rest go in a face down pile on the board.
Next, your character has to have a job right? So you both get to choose an occupation. Deal out 3 of the occupation cards to each player and then each player selects one and places it face up on their player board, the rest are discarded and put away back in the box. After occupations, deal out each player 5 Feature cards. Each player will then take a turn choosing 1 of the 5 Features and assigning them to their partner until you have given your partner 3 Features, discard the rest and put them back in the box.
Now that you have your Occupations and your Features you’ll notice that there are symbols on the bottom of these cards, these symbols will tell you where to place your beginning choice points on the Personality Factors. There is a symbol to tell you which Personality Factor is affected, and an arrow to tell you which side of the track to place the token on. The Trait cards tell you where you want your choice points to be at the end, if at the end of the game you meet your Trait requirements, you will gain Heart, or Love points. The Occupation and Feature cards in theory should get you started on that road, but sometimes they can conflict and make things a bit difficult. Luckily, throughout Fog of Love, there are cards that do help invoke personal change, allowing you to change the way you are.
Now we deal out 5 of the Story Cards to each player. On the board there are three different sets of story cards, Sweet cards which are the more romantic experiences, they are the building blocks but they also do not have much larger consequences. There are Serious cards, these are the more important and serious things that happen during a relationship, these help evolve the relationship. Lastly are the Drama cards, these have bigger effects and lots of risk, these are the cards that evoke change in the relationships, secrets, conflicts, surprises. Each player starts the game with 3 Sweet Cards, 1 Serious Card and 1 Drama Card.
You are now set to begin your relationship.
Part of the attraction to Fog of Love for me was the ability to sort of “role play” if you want to. While this is not necessary for the game to be fun or to even be played, it can add a little bit of excitement and a bit of flavor to the game. We do the whole introduction of our characters to each other, we give them names and we try to tie in our features and occupations to that description as best we can. It always helps to know that Stasia is sitting across from you, as it may help distance yourself from personal feelings during the game. While I may not want to make a choice in real life, Rico may have no problem with it regardless of the effect of that decision.
While playing the game there are a few things to remember. Do not reveal your Story Cards on hand, do not reveal your Story Ending Cards(which we’ll discuss in a bit), Do not reveal your traits and your goals and do not openly discuss decisions to be made on individual and simultaneous choices. Follow those rules about open information unless directed differently by a story card.
The first played card of any chapter is the Chapter Card that starts the corresponding chapter. The chapter card is going to tell a bit of your story, the first chapter card will be how you met, what do you remember. There is a choice on the Chapter Cards and these will ultimately help you or harm your choices. The first Chapter Card in the scenario we’ve played awards Heart/Love points if you and your partner pick the correct corresponding answers. The Chapter Card also will list how many cards are going to be played during this chapter and will tell you what Story Card pile or piles you can draw from to replenish your hand to five after playing a card.
Let’s get into actual card and game play and how a chapter is played out, it’s really pretty simple, but don’t let the simple game play mechanics belie that there choices to be made here. A wrong play of a card and suddenly your choice points balance has fallen all out of favor and you have to struggle to make things work in your favor later. Anyway, what a player does on their turn is they play a Story Card and then you resolve the choice on the card. Most cards will have either a choice for the other player or a simultaneous choice for both. Based on these choices the players will get choice points on the Personality Factors and sometimes even Heart/Love points. The active player places their played card in the discard pile and refills their hand to 5 cards from the appropriate stack or stacks. There are other types of cards that can be played, Location cards impact the next card played, Reaction Cards can be played as a reaction to a response, sometimes a response of your partner’s or your own and then there are Secret Cards that are played and played face down and not flipped unless a story card instructs otherwise. If they are not flipped during the game they will be flipped at the end and will have choice points or Heart/Love points for you to score.
Now may be a good time to tell you a bit about those Story Ending Cards that are in front of you, because as you progress through the game, some of the Story Cards or the Chapter Cards are going to tell you to discard Story Ending Cards or retrieve them from your discard pile. The story ending cards are basically your end conditions that you need to have met in order to win the game and as you discard and retrieve, you have to pay close attention to what you are discarding and how you are doing on the choice points during the game as ultimately if you chose the wrong ending to shoot for, you lose. Some will simply require you to have choice points in a certain row, along with Heart/Love points and your partner to not break up. Others will require more of a concentrated team effort of choice points and Heart/Love points.
After the final Chapter Card is revealed, the players will begin scoring and seeing ultimately where their relationship will end. First reveal your Story Ending Cards, as I said, these ultimately give win conditions for the players. Secondly, resolve any Secret Cards that may have not been revealed. Thirdly, we are going to score trait goals. each trait goal achieved is worth 5 Heart/Love points, each trait goal not achieved costs the player 3 Heart/Love points. If for some reason you have 2 Trait Goals that are similar, same personality factor in the same direction, the balance requirements for the second trait goal are doubled and tripled if there is a third. Now, consult those Story Ending Cards and find out how the relationship ultimately moves on to Happily ever after or if things are so irrevocably broken that it falls apart and the partners go their separate ways.
Whew, that was actually more than I thought I was going to talk about with Fog of Love, I hadn’t intended on actually giving the rules that thoroughly, they just kind of came spilling out as I was writing this out.
From the beginning, Jacob had set out to create a game that isn’t like other games, that doesn’t necessarily play like other games. What started out as a game that Jacob and his wife could play, turned into something different, it struck a chord with people who played it so he continued to share the game with others and more and more folks started taking notice of how games could be designed a bit differently from the conflict heavy games that dominate our landscape now. The game is personal, it can evoke emotions and in tabletop this is a rare thing unless you are playing an RPG, at least it seems that way to me.
Design wise, Jacob and his wife Lotte have nailed it on this one, it looks the part of a modern designed board game that isn’t like anything else even in its preview form. The card design is well laid out, easy to read and the art on the cards really makes it really stand out. I really can’t wait to see this in final form with the actual board and wooden choice point markers, I really do wonder what they have in store or if they are going to go with the simple Blue and Pink wooden circles, they work perfectly fine if a bit fumbly for my non-dexterous fingers, and that is a small an issue with a game that tracks points on different sides of the board. But once again, I’ve not seen the final plans yet, only preview copy.
We’ve played the game both procedural and with trying to act out the parts as much as we felt comfortable with, my wife and I are not well versed role players, so this is kind of a newer experience for us, and almost an exercise and I’m sure she will mention that in our audio review where we talk about playing. But what I want to reiterate though is that we enjoyed our plays either way, because at it’s core, this is a card game, it’s just that the cards aren’t providing the main answers, we are. The cards are the nail and we are the hammers so to speak, sure the cards will hold the game together and make it what it is, but without the outside influence and personal choices made by the players it doesn’t work. What I mean is that you don’t play a card to answer a card like we do in so many card games. You have to come up with the answer on your own.
The first few turns of Fog of Love really do feel like that “getting to know you” phase of a relationship, the cards are generally lighter in meaning and meant to be a way to find out who your partner really is. As Fog of Love progresses, the questions get heavier and the decisions have a more lasting effect and can be more difficult to answer in a way that truly helps you in the game, but may help your partner. The possibilities of an unplanned pregnancy, or a sex tape being discovered or even infidelity by one of the players could come into play and completely change how the game progresses. Which Story Ending Cards you choose to discard becomes increasingly difficult as you move deeper into the relationship, are you staying together or is it going to end in a break up, it’s hard to tell sometimes.
I am curious how non-couples will adapt to this and play the game, I did not get to play with anyone other than Kerensa even though I really wanted to give it a try and I still may and if I do I will amend here and let you know how that goes. The only reason I wonder is because, well people may still have hangups about how to act or play a game with sexual implications with people that they don’t know that well or even someone of the same sex, I don’t really think it should be a problem but I do imagine that may mean that it isn’t a game for everyone, which is kind of sad.
Fog of Love will launch with 3 different scenarios and I imagine that more are in the works via stretch goals, but I have no verification of that. We’ve only played the one scenario and each time it has played a bit differently, but having more scenarios is always welcomed, along with more of those fantastic story cards that drive the game. We do have one other scenario in our possession and it’s a more traditional cooperative scenario and I’m hoping we get to that one soon and it’ll be part of the audio preview.
Launching on February 14, 2016 on Kickstarter for $39 including shipping here in the US and France, Fog of Love is really a no brainer for people who want a two player game that they can play with their significant other that has fun role playing and story telling elements, but most of all Fog of Love should appeal to people who want a truly unique and fun gaming experience unlike anything they have played before.
Kickstarter should be live at 2PM Danish Time which I believe is 7 am in the Central Time Zone in the US.