Once Upon a Time… The Storybook Battles of Paper Tales

Oct 2, 2023 | Sessions | 2 comments

Battle the Lich King with a series of characters who rise and fall throughout the storybook chapters of Paper Tales.

To this day, I haven’t found another solo game that captures the feel of a vintage storybook like the paper craft artwork found in Paper Tales. Its take on a solo draft works amazingly well, too, although the Lich King is no joke! I decided to take it for another spin as I tried to improve my strategies while appreciating all of the different units and buildings!

Game Overview

Game Name: Paper Tales
Publication Year:
 Masato Uesugi
 Christine Alcouffe
Publisher: Catch Up Games
Solo Mode: Included in Paper Tales: Beyond the Gates

Over the course of a handful of rounds, the Lich King grows in power. A lot of his victory points come from cards, which makes drafting a very engaging element. Units are hired to provide benefits and fight, yet the aging mechanic means that most won’t stick around forever!

Getting Ready to Face the Lich King in Paper Tales

First Play

December 23, 2019



Latest Play

September 29, 2023



Setup Time

Almost None

Lifetime Plays


Play Time

20 Minutes


High Score



Game Area

22" x 22"


Low Score


Don’t Forget to Build

Although most of gameplay is centered around drafting units and figuring out which ones to hire, there is a little area that takes shape from various buildings.

I use the random variant that includes a few unique buildings, which can drastically change the strategies.

Upgrading a building to its more powerful side provides added abilities, and one of the most important elements… The chance to place 3 units in the front row!

Normally, units are limited to 2 in the front and 2 in the back, so this can make a big difference when done early.

The Somewhat Secondary and Hidden Element of Buildings in Paper Tales

So Many Unit Types

Plenty of duplicates exist in the deck, yet there are so many characters to discover! Each does something a little different, sometimes focusing on battles or production.

Don’t expect to find the standard fairy tale characters, though. There are lots of interesting units to discover!

The front row offers up attack values to help with battles, yet winning those isn’t the only strategy to win. Coins and resources must be collected to become even stronger.

My lineup during this round was pretty great, especially when the golem upgraded 2 buildings for me at no cost! 

Having a Lot of Fun Choosing and Utilizing Units in Paper Tales

Panorama of Terror

The solo opponent, represented by the Lich King, uses a series of random cards to create a panorama with more bonuses. Spoiler: He’s a chucklehead and a nightmare.

I struggled to earn victory points during my multiple plays. Granted, I felt like the Lich King was a little too difficult with all of the special setup abilities.

No matter what I did, it seemed like there was a gap of around 10 victory points. Not so fun to muddle through…

Playing again, I realized that I like many parts of the game, but it might not be one of my favorites anymore.

A Neat Panorama to Track Rounds and a Pretty Terrible Ending in Paper Tales

Bad Luck at the End

Still, I persevered! There were a couple of cards that could have boosted my score, but they were so situational. The draft only brought out about half of the deck, anyway.

At the end of my final play, I had to laugh at the available draft. No joke: These were my best options, which were all about minor production I didn’t need to utilize.

So much for a great ending. I think the Lich King is better at lower difficulty levels. Still, randomness prevails.

I also don’t think these units are bad on their own, yet when expensive late-game units don’t show up… Hmm.

A Lot of Bad Luck with the Final Card Draft in Paper Tales

Peeling Back the Layers of My Favorite Games

Not that I scrutinize my favorites that much, but I will occasionally come across a solo game that might not resonate with me as much. With so many games entering my rotation, either older unplayed ones or brand new arrivals, I often swap around my preferences quite a lot! It’s more interesting to understand why than lament any such changes.

Here, it’s probably very simple to explain: I don’t feel a strong emotional connection to the game. I love the solo card drafting mechanics and artwork, but no play has ever stood out as being really awesome. The units all blend together in my mind. I still like a lot of elements of the game, and its rating is still deservedly high for all of its strong points.

But it feels a bit disingenuous to label this as one of my top games or favorites purely based on a few aspects. I have a lot of other games whose boxes or titles create some sort of reaction right away, and this one seems to have slid into the more mediocre category. It’s still sticking around, though! Just another interesting thing I learned about my tastes.

Session Overview

Play Number: 17-20
Expansion: Paper Tales: Beyond the Gates
Solo Mode: Included in Paper Tales: Beyond the Gates
Play Details: Level 3 Difficulty Level
Outcome: 37-49, 35-48, 37-48, 38-54 (4 Losses)

See? The Lich King was certainly laughing at me the entire time! I tried so many different strategies with the units, even giving up battles to focus more on buildings and coins. Nothing worked. I might need to drop down to a lower difficulty level, although I was excited to keep up my streak of improving. At least I had a chance to play again!

Wondering if the Difficulty Level Might be Too Much in Paper Tales


20 Plays


Price & Value



Challenges & Mechanics



Design & Theme



Components & Rules



Achievement & Enjoyment



Distinctness & Randomness


+ Pros (Positives)

  • All of the artwork is delightful with a paper craft and storybook sort of feel that carries throughout every detail.
  • The Lich King makes a challenging solo opponent with a pretty easy set of rules to learn and follow.
  • Gameplay only lasts a few rounds, so it moves very quickly with most of the time spent making drafting choices.
  • Managing units and buildings requires a nice balance to save up coins to pay for expensive units in the next round.
  • An aging mechanic means that most units don’t stay around for long, making cost decisions very meaningful.
  • A lot of units and buildings work together in sometimes surprising ways, paving the way for lots of combinations.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • The card draw is very random, and sometimes the drafting options are mediocre in the best case scenario.
  • Higher difficulty levels can feel extremely punishing without the right units being played at the perfect moments.
  • Some plays feel static with the same general progression and focus on constructing an upgraded building early.
  • Keeping track of all of the card effects can take a little effort when there are many elements that interact.

More Paper Tales

Explore related posts about Paper Tales!

Victory Conditions

Score the Most Points

  • Overall Goal Progress 75% 75%

Goals and Milestones


Win at least 1 game at the level 0 difficulty level.


Win at least 1 game at the level 1 difficulty level.


Win at least 1 game at the level 2 difficulty level.


Win at least 1 game at the level 3 difficulty level.

Continue the Conversation

What are your thoughts about Paper Tales? Have you played against the Lich King recently? Although this one may be falling out of my favorites, that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment! It’s hard to stay at the top of my list, and this one still offers an excellent solo experience. Maybe I’ll feel differently once I beat the Lich King again someday. Ha ha!


  1. I am inclined to think that this game connects with me because of the unique art, and will provide me rnjoyment of admiring the illustrations. Will it be enough to want to play it regularly though? Unfortunately I am not so sure.

    • The artwork is great! It does seem to be missing something to keep it around forever, though… Still fun to play, but I don’t see this as staying near the top of my list of favorites in the future.


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