Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! is a card game that eschews the typical take on fantasy, gruesome orcs and grizzled knights, in favor of more lighthearted characters. Much in the way that Shrek gave families a fantasy movie with cross-generational appeal, Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! aims to be a satisfying gaming experience for players of all ages, not just the adults who consider gaming their hobby. With Father's Day coming up this weekend, it's time to spotlight a game that dads can play with their geeks-in-training.
As a crowdfunded game, Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! doesn't exist yet on store shelves, but that's just a matter of time. The project is already well past its Kickstarter funding goal, and is set to be published by Game Salute. The project is still running through the weekend though, so there is still time to hop on board if this preview gives you the urge.
Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! is a card game that walks a fine line between artistic and competitive design. That doesn't make it a bad game though, just one that is given a boost by its style. Just take a look at some of the card artwork:
There's an undeniable visual appeal to these cards, and higher level Kickstarter backers can get a hardcover book showing off these original designs.
The game comes with 20 double-sided cards, one showing a goblin, and the other a fairy. Flip the card over to see the artwork on the other side, and get used to it, because you'll be doing a lot of flipping. Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! can be won by either having no goblins or six fairies in your hand, but cards are constantly flipping back and forth between their goblin and fairy sides. What you wouldn't expect is that the trick to each card flip is a rhyme.
There are five different rhyming groups of names, such as "Rainbow Swoop" and "Gobble T. Goop," or "Nervous Nelly" and "Snowflake Shelly." Players start with a hand of four goblin cards, and from there will have to figure out how to turn that hand into one of the two victory conditions.
On each turn, players will add a card to a central "fairy ring" row of cards in the middle of the table. Afterwards, they'll add some cards back into their hand depending on the result of their play. Immediately after the player chooses a card to add to the ring, every card that rhymes with the new card will flip over, revealing not only its opposite goblin/fairy side artwork, but also a symbol (sun, moon, mushroom, or frog).
After the flip, any card with a symbol matching that of the new card will be added to the players hand. This sounds more complicated than it really is, and can be easily taught by example through demonstrating a turn or two. On average, games of Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! last 15 minutes, allowing it to pass the childhood attention span test.
The goblin cards are a bit nastier looking, true to their characters, but this is far from the stuff of nightmares.
Beyond the surface appeal, you'll find that kids enjoy Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! for the simple fact that it does not treat them like kids. Compare this game to childhood standards such as Candyland or Life, which barely engage the player at all, and the light-playing Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! starts to feel like a mental game. Here, players must actively pursue a victory condition by making intelligent decisions for themselves. A novel concept!
Sure, there is a growing market of kids games that are also enjoyable by adults, with many releases from publishers Gamewright, Haba, and Playroom Entertainment fitting the bill. But cross-generational hits are still few and far between. Until I see the shelves of Toys R Us lined with family games that actively engage their players, I can't disagree with adding another title being added to that mix. We need all the good family games we can get, and Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! is one worth welcoming.
Disclaimer: Game Salute provided a complimentary preview sample of this game