A Paper Tales Solo Session Against the Lich King
Take a look at the solo mode of Paper Tales with the expansion, Paper Tales: Beyond the Gates, in a detailed session report.
I wanted to start sifting through the rest of my unplayed games the other day, but it was Paper Tales that cried out to be played! My initial plays in December 2019 were surprisingly enjoyable, especially since this is a bit of a hidden gem. With the expansion properly mixed in and the solo mode ready to go, I was prepared to make my own little tale!
The multiplayer version features a drafting mechanic, which can be difficult to replicate in a solo mode. Fortunately, it works very well in this case.
The game is played over a series of 4 rounds. Drafted units provide benefits for wars and production, but also age.
A Unique Art Style
Artwork is a very subjective quality about board games. I try to hesitate to label anything, although my preferences are usually pretty clear! Spoiler: I love this style.
It’s not just about the color palette and overall design, though. The elements seem to be crafted from paper to match the theme. Almost every illustration is different.
The game box itself is also quite unique. From afar, it looks like the outline of a king standing against a white background. The expansion follows suit with a large key.
Up close, these images are collages of many elements!
The Lich King
The solo opponent is a skeletal sort of nemesis known as the Lich King. His depiction is far from jovial, though he isn’t particularly terrifying… Except for those eyes!
He earns bonuses from the units that are not drafted. In effect, there is a combined strategy of choosing beneficial units and denying the Lich King extra legend points.
Various difficulty levels can be used by giving him special bonuses during setup. Up to 4 may be used… Yikes!
Random cards ensure that each play features a slightly different Lich King. And that makes for a challenge!
Setting Up the Game
Paper Tales features a variety of components that don’t take up an enormous amount of table space. The visual styles also contrast… Can you spot the Lich King cards?
Setup is a pretty quick process. I had to reference the rules to double-check a few elements, though I remembered nearly everything. Not too bad!
The expansion also introduces a randomized method to have several unique buildings available during each play.
I was ready to go shortly after laying the components out. The Lich King would be tricky, but I had a plan. Possibly.
A Short Set of Chapters in a Paper Tale
My previous plays saw me start to go up against the Lich King with 3 starting bonus cards. That was when I was on a fairly good winning streak, though, so I bumped him back down to a pair of bonuses. It still looked rather daunting!
Figuring out how to manage each draft phase is very challenging. It progresses through a series of steps with fewer and fewer options. Claiming the most useful units is important, but the Lich King is always lurking in the background. He drafts anyone else to his side, which usually gives him immediate bonuses. And his luck is always so good. How rude!
I started off well enough. Food production became the spotlight of my little town. Units helped a lot, yet buildings also sprang up to provide extra bonuses. Offensive units, like knights and archers, took to the front lines to help fight off the Lich King during the pivotal wars. It all looked positive, and I was confident that I was about to win.
The Final Chapter
The final chapter looked like it would be a lucrative one. I saved up plenty of gold to pay for fresh units, owing to the fact that everyone else had aged to die or retire.
But it was not meant to be. My best options were a pair of imps and a demon… Was I turning into the Lich King?! Ha!
I still had a good strategy in mind. A mysterious palm reader granted points for every aging token on removed units. That was worth a wonderful 10 points. Thank you!
Still, the lack of offensive strength meant that the wars were impossible to win. Time and time again, I fell behind.
Play Number: 9
Expansion: Paper Tales: Beyond the Gates
Solo Mode: Included with the Expansion
Play Details: Level 2 Difficulty Level
Required Play Space: 22″ x 22″
Setup Time: 5 Minutes
Play Time: 25 Minutes
Outcome: 42-43 (Loss)
I enjoyed working through the challenge of every round. The draft was tricky at times with few options, yet I still made the most of the units that I chose. Well, mostly!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
The Ending to a Tale
Have you ever felt so confident in your ability to pull off a victory, only to have it stolen? The Lich King beat me by a single point. Oh, the agony! I had to laugh, though, because I thought I won before I gave him his final 9 points.
I managed the draft well enough, but it got increasingly harder and harder. New ways for the Lich King to earn legend points appeared every round. Perhaps it boiled down to my focus on production over war. Still, I bought a lot of point-generating buildings. I earned legend points during each round, which were helpful when I lost some of the wars.
So close! Although this was a loss, I still felt happy with the outcome. No runaway win for the Lich King this time!
Continue the Conversation
Have you played Paper Tales recently? Perhaps you had a great outing against the Lich King or suffered from his foul sense of unhumanly good luck. Leave a comment, possibly even with recommendations for other solo players. I have at least one other post coming up related to the game. If you’re a fan, be ready to see more of the game soon!