Whether practicing storytelling on my own or encouraging my kids to learn and practice this art, it’s always nice to find a ‘tool’ to help the process along. Thus the card game, Once Upon a Time, published by Atlas.
Originally Published: 1993
# of Players: 2-6
Suggested ages: 8+
Avg. Play Time: 30 minutes
Basically you as a player has an ‘ending card’, which is your game goal…to wrap up the story in a way that matches your story ending card.
You also have other cards in your hand that you want to discard throughout the game, such as places, things, etc. You can use these cards to tell your story or to interrupt and take control of the story away from another player who used a keyword in their story that matches one of the cards in your hand.
You could play to win, by discarding your cards quickly through some creative storytelling. It’s an option but not the best way to play, in my opinion.
What makes the game fun are the stories players come up with. Sometimes the stories are completely crazy and absurd, that the other players cannot help but laugh out loud. Other times, the stories are incredibly engaging that all other players forget they are playing a game to win, because they want to keep listening to that person’s story.
You can get a good feel for players that play to win and players that get wrapped up in their own storytelling, as demonstrated through this Tabel Top episode S02E03 from Wil Wheaton (NOTE: I haven’t watched this particular episode in its entirety, in about a year. But the show has been known to have some adult themes and/or language):
There is also a writer’s handbook that walks a writer through how to use this game to write stories, here.
Overall my kids love this game and dig the fairytale artwork. We have yet to try any of the expansions, as the base game already provides plenty of storytelling opportunities.
Get your storytelling on and keep on writing!