Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game.
When a game debuts with a unique and fresh theme, it always catches my eye. We have countless zombie games, a billion trading games set in the Mediterranean Sea, and more fantasy games than one could play in a life time.
So when I was first asked to check out Fog of Love, my interest was immediately piqued. The theme is unusual for sure. In this 2 player only game, players take on the role of a couple and must make decisions over the course of their relationship. The game sprang from the mind of game designer Jacob Jaskov, who was trying to find a game to play with his wife, a romantic at heart. Decision making, role playing, and possibly some bluffing are what Fog of Love promises. Launching now on Kickstarter, we dive in to Fog of Love and see if it delivers on its promises.
In Fog of Love, each player creates a fictional person who will be one half of the dating relationship. Over the course of the game, players will be playing story cards from their hand that will affect both the course of the relationship and also your character’s traits. These come in the form of “choice points”, which will affect your overall satisfaction with yourself and the relationship.
Each game is played out based on a chosen scenario, and players will have both communal and hidden goals. At the end of the game, players must decide if they stay together or break up. Depending on choices made, the players may win as a team, only have one player win, or both lose the game.
How to Play:
The game begins by the creation of the two people to be played in the game. The game has a character creation process where players will be selection traits of their person, occupation, and also what features about their opponent’s person they like. After that, players are encouraged to give their person a name and perhaps some other background information to flesh out the character.
For the actual game player, the rules are very simple. Each game is broken down into a series of chapters. Our included scenarios had 4 chapters. Each chapter has a number of story cards that will be played. Once the chapter card is resolved, each player takes turns playing a story card until the limit for the chapter is reached.
Story cards make up the bulk of what you will be doing in the game. Many story cards invoice a scenario and a decision one or both players need to make. The decisions come in the form of a multiple choice answer, which will usually have an effect on the choice point trackers.
Speaking of choice points, there are 6 tracks in the game. They will swing in balance from one side to the other, based on decisions made in the game. For example: The gentleness tracker might swing to the right if you forgive your partner for a transgression, while it may gain tokens on the left if you refuse to be flexible in the relationship.
Players also have a satisfaction scale that will increase or decrease depending on the choices made in the game. The higher the satisfaction, the better the relationship is doing.
The story cards come in a few different flavors. The general ones will mostly add choice points to the tracks or adjust satisfaction levels. There are also location cards, reaction cards, and secret cards to help keep things interesting. Many cards also have extra effects base on the choices made.
Once players have progressed through the final chapter card, they move into the end game. From there, players must select from the remaining end game cards in their hand (they start with 8 and will discard some during the game) and choose the outcome of the relationship. These range from breaking up, to staying together, or to having one person being the dominant in the relationship. Players also will gain satisfaction if they accomplished the goals on their hidden trait cards.
Are you still with me? Good. If you made it this far than you are probably curious how the game plays. I say this because I can probably guess right off the bat that Fog of Love won’t be for everyone. The theme, while unique, just isn’t going to attract the masses. Will a couple of war game grognards put aside their chits and dice to get in a game of Fog of Love? Probably not.
So who is Fog of Love for? Well the obvious answer is that it’s a game for you to play with your spouse. Fog of Love seems to be tailor made for a couple to play together (and if you read the rulebook, that’s pretty much why it was invented).
But I’m going to go a step further. The people who will really enjoy Fog of Love are those who like to immerse themselves in the theme of a game and like to take on a role. If you are a deep strategy gamer, you probably aren’t going to have a ton of fun with this one. You really have to enjoy playing a character and I think that fans of RPGs can really have a lot of fun with this one. In fact, in testing this with my wife, she admitted after the game that sometimes she had trouble with the decisions that needed to be made. She has never been into RPGs and it wasn’t always easy separating the character she was playing with herself.
Now, for those of you that love a good RPG, who like taking on a new role, there is a lot of fun to be had in Fog of Love. Some of those story cards are incredibly creative and highly thematic. They range from the goofy (a friend says she saw a ghost, what do you say to her) to the common (do these jeans make my butt look big) to the relationship altering (change for me). There are actually three different decks of story cards to draw from, each of which is more likely to alter the relationship in different ways.
I actually liked answering the questions based on how I thought my character would react. I used my starting trait cards as a guide for his thought process. However, I think there ended up being a bit of a disconnect in the games goals versus how it was played.
When a story question is presented to a player, they are allowed to see all the choices and the effects it would have on the relationship. While this made decisions, and winning easier, I felt like it took a little away from the thematic nature of the game. Instead of answering truthfully, I usually just chose the answer that would have the desired effect on the choice point trackers.
I think I would have actually preferred if the game had gone the route of Above and Below, where one player reads the card and the choices out loud (without the results) and the other must answer without knowing the consequences. While this would have made winning a lot harder, I think it would have really increased the thematic element of the game, which is the big draw. Fortunately, this is an easy thing to house rule if you want to go this route.
Finally, I like the variety of cards in the game. While the bulk of the cards are the question/answer ones, there are a number of other cards that really help keep things fresh. The secret cards were my favorite. These are hidden cards the sit out next to the game board. If they get revealed during the course of the game, they can sometimes have big penalties. However, if they make it to the end of the game unrevealed, the can also greatly alter the relationship. I really enjoyed this hidden aspect of the game.
I’ll admit it; I never expected to be playing a game called Fog of Love. But I enjoyed it and found it to be a wholly unique gaming experience. The design of the board and artwork (at least in our prototype copy) was well done and seemed to fit the game well.
While Fog of Love is not going to be for everyone, players who love to immerse themselves in the theme of a game can really have a lot of fun with Fog of Love. Our preview copy only had a handful of scenarios in it, so I’m definitely curious as to what other scenarios are going to be in the final game and how they will affect the game play.
I think I had the most fun just answering the questions, and also seeing the reaction on my wife’s face due to some of my answers. More than once I had to remind her I was answering for my character, not myself. 🙂
If you’d like to become a backer, pledges start at $39 for the full game and stretch goals. Fog of Love is scheduled to be in backers hands in January of 2017 and you have until Sunday, April 3rd to become a backer. Head over today and check it out.
As always, we don’t post ratings for preview copies as the components and rules may change from the final game. Check back with us after the game is produced for a full review.