The Fool’s Journey: Guiding a Herald of Summer to Victory

Jul 4, 2024 | Sessions | 2 comments

Guide a character through a Tarot-based journey where unique artwork can be admired with The Fool’s Journey.

Although I could easily get into collecting Tarot decks, I’ve stuck with a handful of decks that I love so much! Yet there aren’t a lot of solo games that utilize these cards, so it was about time I returned to The Fool’s Journey. I’ve played it for years, moving it into the realm of a familiar friend. Plus, I finally could appreciate some summery Tarot artwork!

Game Overview

Game Name: The Fool’s Journey
Publication Year: 2016
Designer: Desmond Meraz
Artist: Gary A. Lippincott (Victorian Fairy Tarot Cards)
Publisher: Unpublished (Free Rules PDF)
Solo Mode: Designed for Solo (Included in the Base Game)

With 4 cards in the play area each round, the character must overcome challenges by using various suits. Wisdom might be saved up, while various ways to work through the major arcana challenges provide plenty of options. Yet vitality is always low, and winning can be very difficult!

The Delight of a Simple Play Area and Old Favorite with The Fool's Journey
R

First Play

August 4, 2017

Complexity

1

Latest Play

July 4, 2024

Expansions

0

Setup Time

Almost None

Lifetime Plays

66

Play Time

10 Minutes

:

High Score

20

1

Game Area

26" x 18"

;

Low Score

0

Victorian Fairy Tarot

I haven’t found a lot of opportunities to bring out my Victorian Fairy Tarot, yet I was so thrilled to see these beautiful illustrations! Absolutely gorgeous.

This deck has been unavailable for a long time, although it looks like an official reprint may be in the works.

Should I sleeve these to preserve them? Maybe, but I like the little signs of wear on the edges and card names.

I’m very careful with handling this deck, yet I can’t believe I haven’t used it in years. It’s too pretty and cheery not to want to play with every now and then… Or even more!

Appreciating the Little Details in the Victorian Fairy Tarot with The Fool's Journey

Managing the Play Area

Partway through play, lots of things might be going on. Items are equipped to help overcome challenges, wisdom is stored, and a satchel fills up for future assistance.

I’ve always played without any of the available variants, although I might try them out in the future! Just returning to the simple set of rules I memorized was enough.

My abacus proved to be quite useful, too, tracking vitality and not requiring much maintenance beyond maths.

Need I say again how much I love this artwork? It was so colorful and lovely to play with on a summer morning!

Looking at All of the Options Partway Through an Exciting Play of The Fool's Journey

Overcoming the Stars

Another reason why I love this Tarot deck for this solo game is the way the numbers and names stack neatly, as there are ways to pair up suits to overcome challenges.

Sometimes, it’s easy enough to directly face something and lose vitality. But I play with a fairly low maximum of just 15 vitality, so I need to get clever to survive!

It didn’t pan out all the time, although gameplay was so quick that I never felt upset over an early loss.

Another bonus? I got a little more practice with Roman numerals and small sums. Hurray for maths! Ha ha!

Pairing Different Suits to Overcome Difficult Challenges in The Fool's Journey

Just Shy of a Win

The main character is typically the Fool, although I swap out this card to make a thematic experience for myself. When the Fool comes out, I treat it like my chosen card.

There was a moment when I decided not to use any aces during an entire play to see if I could win. Aces allow for reshuffles, which are extremely powerful.

I actually almost pulled it off! Unfortunately, the last cards in the deck were a pair of challenges. Still, so close!

So many elements of the game can be customized, which allow for it to be as difficult or complex as desired. Nice!

Making It to the Final Pair of Challenges for the Herald of Summer in The Fool's Journey

The Benefits of a Game with Many Variants

When I first play a new game, I typically play it at the lowest difficulty level without any modules. Plain as plain can be! However, the reason is so that I can focus on learning the rules, rather than trying to master any strategies.

Over time, the solo games that offer ways to expand can be some of the best. And that doesn’t necessarily mean more components or new purchases… This is a perfect example! I’ve been able to adjust my starting vitality over time to make it more difficult, which has had a surprising effect on my strategies. Now, it looks like I’m ready for variants.

I’ll also note that starting out with the basic game provides a good foundation for what I get out of the game. If any additions or changes don’t work, I can simply revert back to the state that worked best for me in the first place. Always something new to discover when you dig into a game a little more… Particularly after playing for many years!

Session Overview

Play Number: 63-66
Solo Mode: Designed for Solo (Included in the Base Game)
Play Details: 15 Maximum Vitality
Outcome: 0, 0, 1, 0 (1 Win & 3 Losses)

A-ha! It wasn’t easy, but I still managed to complete a standard victory during this session. Those aces were needed! Despite my preference for the familiar, there is a lot more to explore with other variants. I’m hoping to try those out in the future to see if I might enjoy something a little more difficult. But if not, this is still my favorite solo game to play with a Tarot deck. Always lovely to play!

A Watchful Winter Eyes in a Lovely Summer Victory with The Fool's Journey

%

60 Plays

Affordability

Price & Value

8

Functionality

Challenges & Mechanics

7

Originality

Design & Theme

9

Quality

Components & Rules

6

Reusability

Achievement & Enjoyment

9

Variability

Distinctness & Randomness

6

+ Pros (Positives)

  • Gameplay is quick and moves along quite well with interesting decisions to make during each round.
  • Figuring out the puzzle of how to handle 3 of 4 cards each round is very fun and can be a clever challenge.
  • All of the cards in a Tarot deck are used in important ways, which makes this a great way to appreciate the art.
  • Many variants and other ways to play allow the game to be customized to provide the desired experience.
  • There is a great sense of accomplishment when overcoming some of the highest value challenges.
  • Once the rules are understood, they’re very intuitive and the focus shifts to simply finding ways to win.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • The rulebook leaves a lot to be desired when learning how to play, and outside sources are almost a requirement.
  • Bad luck can result in a very early loss, even during setup, although it’s very easy to simply start over again.
  • Swords and wands function very differently but are described in a way that can make understanding them difficult.
  • There are some clear strategies to follow that reduce the challenge without making custom adjustments.

More The Fool's Journey

Explore related posts about The Fool’s Journey!

Victory Conditions

Overcome All 20 Challenges

  • Overall Goal Progress 75% 75%

Goals and Milestones

R

Win at least 1 game with full vitality (15) at the end.

R

Win at least 1 game with full vitality (20) at the end.

R

Win at least 1 game with full vitality (25) at the end.

Q

Win at least 1 game without using any aces.

Continue the Conversation

Have you played The Fool’s Journey? Do you have a favorite Tarot deck or other solo games to play with a Tarot deck? This has been one of the constants in my collection over the years. It may not make it to my table all the time, yet I absolutely love how fun it is! Definitely makes for a great and unique way to admire the artwork in my Tarot decks.

2 Comments

  1. I love the way you’ve formatted this blog post – it’s so easy to read and the photos are wonderful! The Fool’s Journey was an inspiration for my own Tarot solitaire designs, as I imagined, “What if a different Major Arcana card was the main character of a game?” So far, I’ve come up with the Magician, the High Priestess, the Lovers, Justice, and the Devil. So if you’re looking for more solo games to play with your Tarot cards, have a look:

    https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/3237104/tarot-solitaire-series

    Reply
    • Thank you for the kind words, Dante! Coincidentally, the inspiration for playing this game was someone posting about your work-in-progress, The Devil! I had previously bookmarked your designer page on BoardGameGeek, but now have a much easier link of everything. I appreciate it!

      Seems like I have a lot more to explore with my Tarot decks. Very cool ideas behind the series, and I hope to have a chance to play soon… If so, you’ll hear about it over here and on numerous solo places on BoardGameGeek. Good luck as you continue working on the series!

      Reply

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