Ever since launching The Rat Hole we’ve brought you, our loyal reader, a monthly series of reviews focusing on Skybound Games. Originally this started as Superfight Saturday because there is just so much Superfight out there worth reviewing. Soon after that expanded out to include Red Flags, and the occasional step over to things like Blank Marry Kill, under the banner Skybound Saturday. This month’s Skybound Saturday is something special. This month we are bringing the first joint project between Skybound Games and Druid City Games, The Grimm Forest.
I can’t tell you how excited I’ve been, as I waited to crack into this, and I couldn’t ask for a better game to be the first official Skybound Saturday of 2019. I’ve drooled over this game since I first saw the prototypes on display at a Convention prior to the Kickstarter launching. When I finally got a copy I was ecstatic.
So I opened the box and my jaw just dropped. The Game Trayz insets can be described as nothing less than packaging porn. Everything fits just shy of perfection. I almost always transport my games on their side, and so far the worst I’ve had is a few cards slip out of place, and only just barely. If you are a regular reader, you probably already know how much I hate badly designed inserts, so this blew me away. (Randomly, I had just been discussing Game Trayz with a game designer earlier that day).
Moving on. Miniatures. Oh. My. God. So gorgeous. Because this game doesn’t really on the scale at all, the minis can be (and are) big enough to hold an appropriate amount of detail and are easy to notice from a distance. Every time I played this in public, people stopped to gawk. I do wish the Dragon had been sitting around an in-game house instead of a castle tower, the way the Giant is stepping on one, but if that’s the worst thing I can say I should just shut up about it.
The miniatures are what stand out from a distance, everything else is just as amazing. The four player boards are extra durable, with each one uniquely die cut and illustrated. The locations and resource tokens are the same extra thick cardboard, and should all stand up to a ton of playtime. The molded house components fit perfectly and look amazing and the card art is stunning throughout.
There are two types of cards in the game. Fables and Friends. Friends are drawn whenever you build a wall section of a house (and at a few other times) and the person drawing them has a choice to replace their own Friend (if they have one in play) or to force another player to take it and replace theirs. Every Friend has exceptionally powerful abilities, so it can be a legitimately hard decision to make. Fables are single-use cards that are played prior to knowing if they will work as hoped. Many of the Fable cards give a consolation prize, of sorts, if their main conditions aren’t met.
The actual gameplay is fairly basic. For the first phase, everyone chooses a location to collect resources from, by placing a card face down, if they want to play a Fable card, they do this at the same time. Fable cards are revealed first, followed by the locations cards (which may or may not have been affected by a Fable card). A player will get all the resources if they are alone, or split them (rounded down) if other players are there.
In the second phase, players can take two actions. The can include building a house segment, drawing a fable card, or using a Friend’s special ability.
You can’t start more than one of the same type of house until the previous one is built, but you can have a straw, wood, and brick, house all in construction at the same time. The first player to build three houses of any type, not specifically one of each, wins.
One of my games had a player with limited reading skills, they had some challenges with the cards but even they said the game was fun and otherwise easy to understand.
The Grimm Forest is nothing less than spectacular. When I put this game away, I probably won’t be putting it very far away.