Playing the Game
The aim of the game is to complete the objective of each story. These vary from retrieving the child’s blanket from the realm under the bed to finding a Stuffy’s lost arm. You do this by defeating minions, gather information in various areas, and by encountering the denizens of The Fall. You lose if all of your Stuffy’s are defeated. Each game takes around 60-90 minutes give or take.
Upon starting a story, the current Bookkeeper reads the charming and fun introduction. You then turn the page and the storybook becomes the game board, which is very clever. To the right of the game board, the game sets the rules for the encounter and guides you through as your progress. Interestingly, there are QR codes at various points explaining mechanics and functions. This is a cool feature.
Each story has several chapters to progress through. There are also additional routes depending on what the party does. For instance, if the Stuffy’s miss the train they have to catch, they will then have to try and catch up on with a hectic and bumpy cart ride. This then asks the players to perform skill tests to spot hazards, steering the cart, and making sure you don’t go too fast.
At the beginning of the turn, the player with the bookmark draws 5 dice from the dice bag. These dice come in 7 colours. Red is used for melee attacks, green for ranged attacks, yellow for searching for items, purple to be used as any colour, and blue with no unique properties about it. There are also white, which can be used to gain more Stuffing, and black, that adds to the Threat Track. More on that later.
The actions you take on your turn depend on the dice you draw. The actions that can be taken are Move, Reserve a dice for later, Encourage which gives a dice to another Stuffy, attempting a Skill Test or Group Task on the board, Attack, and Search. All these actions require dice rolls, and certain ones require specific dice. You can make any amount of actions so long as you have to dice to roll.
To Move, roll any dice and move up to the number you rolled. Certain areas require a specific dice by coloured lines. Green lines require green dice for instance. Reserve and Encourage allow you to save a dice for later use for either yourself or another Stuffy respectively. For Skill Test, roll the dice detailed on the game board. This might be to open a door, sneak past an enemy, or jump across a gap. Group Task require multiple Stuffy’s to participate. You can contribute 1 die per turn to attempt to complete a task such as unplugging the bath. The Attack action requires a weapon equipped and a roll of the associated die. Lastly, the player can roll a yellow die to Search the area for any loot. The number to meet is detailed in the top right of the board. Any dice used a place in a discard pile.
If the Threat Track has black die equal to or greater than the number of minions in play, it then becomes the minions’ turn. Each minion as a card with behaviour instructions when they act. This is kinda like an artificial intelligence for the evil monsters. Depending on the result of the dice roll, the monsters can act with a limited set of behaviours. Most of them are attack actions. But, they all detail the preferences on each action as well as the effects. It is fairly simple to follow and allows for accurate and nail-biting gameplay with the younger and older audience alike.
All in all, the gameplay as a whole can seem a little daunting as is not recommended for the younger audience straight away. However, it doesn’t take long to get into the swing of things. It takes little time for you to enjoy the game and really get into the storytelling and crossing fingers for good dice rolls. This is a bit like a teddy bear version of Dungeons and Dragons.