Bethany: My family loves games and so does Kevin's, so it's not surprising that we give and receive them on every occasion and get together to play them every week. With Christmas coming up (or so the stores all tell me), I thought now might be a good time to start a series of reviews of the games we own and love. Just a glance at the one I most recently received will show you why I thought it a fitting introduction here.
Once Upon a Time is not a strategy game, and in my opinion it is not for the super competitive who rely strongly on enforceable rules. Each player receives an assortment of cards representing various stereotypical fairytale story elements and one card providing an ending. The goal is to use up all your element cards (by playing them as you mention what is on them) in a group-told fairytale and achieve your provided ending in a way that is entertaining and makes sense. Since everyone else is also trying to use up their cards and reach their endings as well, you have to be quick on your toes and ready to dive into the story at first opportunity and ramble on as quickly as possible. If you are not the current storyteller, you must wait until one of the elements on your cards is mentioned, at which point you can play it and take over until you mention something on a card somebody else can play.
Of course, whether or not anyone's interruptions and interpretations actually fit and make sense is a matter of interpretation. It is embarrassingly easy to fall into cliches, so the first few rounds can be painful, but it is a lot of fun once everyone gets into the storytelling aspect and starts making up hilarious alternatives to the easy route. And if you like to plot stories, it's rather inspiring (can't you imagine a children's book about a heroic squirrel on a quest?). On the other hand, if you have a bunch of shy, slow playing people who don't like to interrupt each other, one person could easily win this in about two minutes, which would be quite boring. I'd recommend this for people who enjoy games like Cranium and love traditional children's stories.