The castle and fields of Mice & Mystics replaced by a little girl's dreams, and the mice replaced by stuffed animals, there is a whole new world to explore, minions to defeat, and story to experience in Stuffed Fables. Board tiles also replaced, it is one of PlaidHat Games' adventure book games. Action and story occurring in a large book instead of on modular tiles, each page represents another chapter in Lumpy, Piggle, Theodora, Stitch, and Flops’ tale. An evil attacking the little girl as she sleeps, players cooperatively try to prevent the girl from waking up by sending her stuffy heroes out into the wilds of dreamland to find and defeat the source.
So what are the iterations between Mice & Mystics and Stuffed Fables? Beyond the aforementioned shift from modular tiles to adventure book, dice action has likewise become more variegated. Where M&M was driven by five dice, SF is driven by thirty dice: five each of six colors. Players drawing five from the bag at the beginning of their turn, they proceed depending which colors they drew. Some allow for movement or attack, one helps recover hit points, another winds the minion clock tighter, and another is a wild card. The player not required to use all the dice, they are able to give some to other players to help, as well as keep one at the end of their turn for defensive purposes or to use on the next turn. Beyond move, attack, etc., the game also introduces skill tests to proceed past certain points. All in all, Stuffed Fables moves beyond the move-attack, move-attack, move-attack routine of M&M and into territory more variable and enjoyable for it.
The replay value of Stuffed Fables is relatively good for a story-driven game. The adventure book featuring branching story lines, there are pages and chapters that players will skip as a result of their choices and encounters, meaning there is a portion of content waiting to be discovered on a second or third playthrough. The story not a pre-requisite, however, players can simply open the book to a random page or choose a page they want to replay, and go at it. Given most pages/scenarios have their own set of mini-rules (or rules modifications), gameplay is constantly fresh. And lastly, there are 30+ scenarios to play through. And so while playing a chapter a second time may not be as fresh and interesting, there remains a huge amount of content to go through on the first time. Compare to Pandemic: Legacy, for example, and there is roughly three times the “first time” content for about the same price, if not cheaper and with better components.
In the end, Stuffed Fables is wonderful cooperative game for families. Value through the roof, the adventure book format makes for unique adventure after unique adventure. The high quality components and supporting mechanisms ensure each player likewise has unique powers, and are contributing to the overarching, ever-evolving story in their own way, even if the story is not well-written. Cute and cuddly, players literally beat the stuffing out of baddies, all the while confronting the fears of nightmares and the night. I have also enjoyed every minute with my children painting the heroes. (Lumpy lives up to his name in our house.) Thus, if you and your family liked Mice & Mystics, Stuffed Fables improves upon the experience. I can only wish a sequel will be released which sees Hawthorne take the idea into its next iteration.