Review – Rory’s Story Cubes: Voyages from the Creativity Hub
Designer – Rory O’Connor
Art – Rory O’Connor
I do love theme and story in my games for the most part. Nothing like having an atmosphere to “experience” the game rather than just to play it as a mechanical exercise I say. Rory’s Story Cubes: Voyages is very much all about the story as it says in the name. There seems to be a bit of controversy in some circles as to whether it is a game or an “activity”. You see, the rules are such that it is not traditional in that the players are there to tell a story. And that’s it. Yes, you heard me. That’s it.
“Well that’s not a game!” I hear some of you shout. And I do mean shout as is the Trolling way on BoardGameGeek which is becoming more and more a den of Trolling varmints. I digress…
For me, telling a story is an activity and it can be a game. It can be cooperative, or it can be competitive. And it can be a game of no winners or losers, just fellow travelers having a great time together. And here is where the Story Cubes enter.
Now Rory’s Story Cubes: Voyages, for 1-12 players aged 6+, has been doing well since it first came on the scene in 2005 with the first expansion Actions published in 2007 Voyages is the 2nd expansion, and my first personal experience with it. The original set and expansions can be used together or alone. I’ve been very intrigued with it and thought that it was just for children and really a learning tool for schools but that just scratches the surface as adults and gamers will find them accessible as well.
Very simply, 9 cubes come in a small, attractive box. Very portable and described as “a pocket-sized set of 9 cubes depicting 54 icons to inspire epic adventure”. The icons are very simple and immediately recognizable. For instance, musical note, gears, a circus tent, a camera, a whip, etc…
It doesn’t get more simple than roll the 9 cubes, begin with “Once upon a time”, tell a story that links together all 9 face-up images. The goal is to stimulate your imagination. There is no wrong answer.
The real magic here is that this is really an open-ended system, as you can do all kinds of things. You can play solo or with a group. You can each take turns telling a complete story of all using the 9 images or contribute taking 1 image each and so on.
There are suggested methods to start you off. For instance -
The Trilogy – where each of 3 players uses a separate set of story cubes to tell 1 part of a connected story
Story within a story – Roll 9, 18 or 27 cubes, each player taking 3 cubes at a time
And so on…
I have an idea that I want to try out – The group decides beforehand what genre the story will be. Horror? a Western? I think it could be very fun. Zombies? Aliens? There are endless possibilities here and that really excites me.
You can have everyone assign points to players for creativity, drama, comedy, whatever. The limits are those you impose.
Did it work for me?
Rory’s Story Cubes: Voyages is one of those simple, yet genius ideas that you come across sometimes. Screamingly obvious idea, but Rory O’Connor picked it up and ran with it and all power to him for doing so. The simple presentation leaves the development of the experience down to the players. Hugely empowering, unlike so many other games which limits what you can do within the constraints of the rules. Here you have free flow and this makes the story cubes tremendous fun for young and old alike. You can create adventures in so many different areas and in in so many different way. It simply will never play the same way twice and so brings huge replayability. This is a great intro for non-gamers I’d say.
I had fun, laughed, felt stimulated and challenged. I can’t ask more than this from a game. Yes its a game, not just an activity. A different type of game that breaks traditional constraints and challenges your assumptions about what a game can be. And hence, I really admire it and look forward to getting the other 2 sets.
I highly recommend Rory’s Story Cubes: Voyages! Simply put, this is 9 cubes of AWESOME.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 10 out of 10
Absolutely, in fact, this is a brilliant game for families!
For information as to where to get your mitts on Rory’s Story Cubes
in the UK, go to – Coiled Spring Games