#920 – Similo: Fables [Mini]

Base price: $10.
2 – 8 players.
Play time: 10 – 15 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 60, in various combinations with other sets.

Full disclosure: A review copy of Similo: Fables was provided by Flat River Group.

More Similo! I’m really enjoying going through these sets, even though they are roughly the same game. There’s not a ton of distinction between them, rules-wise; it’s more of a distinction of theme than anything else. And I think that’s fun! So I’m going through each of the sets and talking about why I think that they’re cool. Look forward to that. Let’s get into the next one with Similo: Fables!

Similo: Fables takes many classic childhood stories (your mileage may vary, depending on your cultural background) and packages them into a deduction game where the guesser tries to figure out which storied character is the clue-giver’s secret character. With Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, and The Three Little Pigs among the characters to choose from, what new stories will you be able to tell?

Contents

Strategy

  • This set deals a lot with “good” and “evil” characters, in a pretty cut-and-dry sense; you might be able to use that to your advantage? At the very least, you can lean towards or away from “sinister” to try and draw a line that eliminates a lot of characters that aren’t your secret character. I still don’t know enough about The Fox and the Cat from Pinocchio to actually know if they’re good or bad, though, so, you may not always be successful there.
  • There are also a lot of animals, good and bad. Another thing you might be able to make work for you. “People” versus “Animals” is a very useful distinction in this set. It’s less useful if you’re playing with the Animals / Wild Animals sets or the History set. Unclear how well it works for Spookies. But here, you may be able to eliminate a lot of characters if your secret character is nonhuman.
  • Royalty comes up a lot, here. Lots of evil queens, princes, and the occasional sea witch. That’s a lot of fables coming out of Europe, to be fair. Throw what you know, and all that. But between common folk and royals, there’s a pretty strong divide. You can usually get some cards to help you one way or the other.
  • Similarly, magical and non-magical may be a decent axis to split on. Try finding commonalities across multiple sets of characters and seeing how you can split them. These are all decent ways to split up characters into sets and subdivide them down to hopefully just your secret character, but it’s worth thinking about which axes actually help you when you’re playing.
  • Reading the cards won’t actually help you much, here! It just tells you what story the characters are from and when the story came out. Given how emphatic I’ve been about reading the cards for previous sets, I’m a bit embarrassed at how unhelpful the cards are this time around, unless you’re trying to split your secret character from the pack based on release year, which I think is likely phenomenally unwise. But yeah, no context on these, just a citation of which story the character originally hails from.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • This is another set that I’m surprised they only made one version of. There are so many fables! Even just looking at like, Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen, there are a ton of characters that didn’t make it into this one. I could see easily a few more sets just off of that! Where’s my Ugly Duckling? My Frog Prince? My Rumpelstiltskin? I didn’t spell that right on my first go, and I’m going to be honest about it.
  • The artist must have had a ton of fun with this set; there’s a lot of fun characters and designs. I particularly like The Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and the Queen of Hearts, though the interpretation of the Little Mermaid feels distinct and novel on its own. I’m a fan! I also really like the Three Little Pigs card.
  • I also like how many cards have a variety of characters on them. Having two or three characters on a card is fun! Gives you new ways to give clues, especially when you mix it with other sets.
  • I think this is probably the best set for mixing with other sets; there are so many animals and people and characters in here that it’s a lot of fun to see how it mixes with other things. This is typically the one I go to when I’m mixing with other sets. It’s just super fun? There’s a lot of different ways to give clues with this set of characters, and I love it, even when I hate it because I very specifically misunderstand Joe’s excellent clues and just tank the game. I think it nicely works with basically any set in a way that I don’t think any of the other sets quite reach.
  • There’s a pretty good variety of fables in this one! Feels like at least ten different ones or so. it’s a nice, distinct variety of stories. I liked them! I was particularly glad that Aladdin made it in there. But there’s a lot of good stories in here!
  • I was pleased that “The Big Bad Wolf” counts as both a Little Red Riding Hood character and a Three Little Pigs character. He’s doing double-time work! Better be getting paid overtime or something. It’s a delight.
  • I’m always delighted to see Puss in Boots in things. He’s just a fancy little cat swordsman and I love him. He’s a delightful little guy. I’m a fan, and I’m glad he’s in the game.

Mehs

  • This set went really hard on Pinocchio characters? I’m not bothered by it, but I wasn’t aware that was anyone’s favorite. I’m more amused than anything else. Just … so many Pinocchio characters. I guess there’s a bunch of Pinocchio movies coming out soon, too, so maybe it’s just that little puppet’s year?
  • It’s a fairly Eurocentric set? I’d have liked to see a few more fables from other locations (beyond just Aladdin and the Genie). I mean, contextually, not super surprised, but I would just like to learn about more fables than the ones I grew up with. I like Similo as an opportunity to learn some things and then relate them to things I’m already familiar with, so it would be cool to see a wider variety of fables in a second set!
  • Pedantically, does Wizard of Oz count as a fable? This is definitely motivated by a personal distaste for The Wizard of Oz (it was overused as a dorm theme when I was in college and I never recovered), but I still think it’s worth surfacing, here. Petty? Absolutely. Given that Peter Pan apparently came out after The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, I suppose it’s fine. Fun fact, I guess.

Cons

  • Having three young, blonde women in a Similo set can really throw some of your clues for a loop, if you get unlucky. It’s a bit funny, to be honest. That’s probably my biggest complaint about this set, and it’s not even that big of one. Just that Alice / Cinderella / Dorothy are pretty … similar, I suppose. I’d hate to be the person trying to clue them apart. It can work! There are a lot of fun supporting characters, but it’s definitely an interesting choice.

Overall: 7.5 / 10

Overall, Similo: Fables is one of my favorite sets! On its face, I like it a lot, just because it features a lot of characters that I’m familiar with (or, at least, familiar with adaptations of their stories), but I also quite like it because the Fables set is far and away one of the best sets to mix in with other sets for maximum chaos. It’s super fun trying to decide if Pan from Greek mythology is more like The Three Little Pigs or Aladdin (definitely the latter), and I just think that every set I’ve mixed Fables with has added new depth and enjoyment to it. The other sets are good, granted, and History might be my favorite standalone set, but I think the mixing factor makes Fables a lot of fun. Plus, Fables has a lot of great art and a wide variety of stories, even if I would have liked to see more stories from different parts of the world make their way into this set. That said, there’s clearly enough here for a Fables 2 / Fables 3 / probably even more than that, so if they keep making Similo sets, I’d love to see what would make it into a second volume. I’ve been pretty excited to play with this one more and more now that the full set of Similo games are on Board Game Arena, and it’s no surprise this is far and away my most-played set. On the more education-y side, I could also see this factoring in nicely with some introductory literature courses, just to get students thinking about how to relate and contrast different characters from a variety of stories to start detecting parallels and tropes within them. Could be a cool, fun way to build connection with the material. But the game is also fun on its own, so, a win either way. If you’re looking for a straightforward and simple deduction game, you enjoy fables, or you’re a Similo fan looking for the ultimate mixer, I’d definitely recommend checking out Fables! It’s one of my favorites.


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