110 – Tell Me a Story: Storytelling in Games – The Family Gamers Podcast

Tell Me a Story: Storytelling in Games

We love games that tell a story. Whether the stories are driving the game, or encourage players to get into character and make their own story, these games are fun. Enhance your game-playing experience with some of these.

What We’ve Been Playing:

Scarabya (coming in October from Blue Orange). A multi-player-solitaire polyomino game. Fun, even though we can’t figure out how to say the name.

We are playing a lot of Century: Golem Edition. The kids even pulled it out before school one morning – they were so motivated to play that they were dressed and (mostly) prepared an hour before we need to leave for school! Also, the golems are so wonderfully illustrated.

We’ve started playing The Mansky Caper! Hear our interview with Ken Franklin & Chris Leder and check out our unboxing video.

Ad Astra – a space-themed game that feels like Catan with deck-programming and exploration.

Kids were playing Dragonwood, more Century: Golem, Sushi Go Party, Mall Madness… everyone had fun!

We’ve gotten our first look at Spy Club – very Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew/Boxcar Children/Encyclopedia Brown. You are kids working together to try solve a crime. Mechanics are easy enough for a 7-year-old to understand, but this is a hard game. It seems to be designed to make you play cleverly. The mosaic aspect of it makes for interesting stories (we almost solved one where the crime was bullying, location was museum, object was a hat, and motivation was fame. Someone making Youtube videos making fun of other people’s hats, maybe?)

We also finally pulled out Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. We wanted to wait until we were a few books into the series, but we’re there now. The first deck was fine. We’re looking forward to later decks to see the game get more interesting. This is a deck-builder with classic deck-building rules. It was frustrating that there was no way to cull cards, at least in the first game. We’ll see what happens later!

Solo gaming: Anitra is still enjoying Tempus Imperium (rules and print-and-play at BlueCubeBoardGames.com), but recently started playing Twin Stars from Button Shy. With six scenarios and twelve characters, there is a lot of replayability value. She’s rigged it to play in the car when waiting for school pickup, so expect to hear more.

Even more games!

Dice Forge
Simon’s Cat card game
Bob Ross: Happy Little Accidents party game

Shelf of Shame: What Should We Play Next?

Which one should we play this week? Ethnos (by CMON), Adventure Land (by HABA), or Above and Below (by Red Raven Games)? Let us know in the show notes or on social media.

SNAP Review

Shaky Manor: The Tilted Treasure Hunt

This week’s SNAP is Shaky Manor.

Storytelling Games

Games that tell the story for you:

Robit Riddle (our review)

Choose your Own Adventure game

T.I.M.E. Stories

Cardventures (a set of solo games we reviewed)

Above & Below

Many tabletop RPGs: Mice & Mystics, Tail Feathers, Stuffed Fables, Sentinels of the Multiverse RPG; pre-built campaigns for systems like Hero Kids, D&D, Pathfinder and others (for busy parents, we highly recommend the campaigns for Hero Kids)

Escape Room Boxes

Games that force you to tell a story:

Classic RPG’s (RPG systems like Pathfinder, D&D, GURPS, or yes, Hero Kids) the benefit here is flexibility – if your kids want to talk to the monster instead of fighting it, they can!

Story Cubes – use these to ask questions and build creativity!

Untold – putting a framework around story cubes. “I think it makes you work harder, but you come up with a better story because of it.” We discussed this in our interview with Rory O’Connor.

Games that encourage storytelling due to theme/structure:

Spy Club – the framing of the elements (object, crime, motive, suspect, location) invite storytelling. It’s hard NOT to make at least a little bit of a story around them!

The Mansky Caper – you could play this with no extra flavor, but the game is most fun when you get into character, hold grudges, and call in your favors creatively.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – or any other game with a movie tie-in or a heavy theme. If you love that intellectual property, you will naturally start telling a story as you go along.


Playing games with your kids is not just to pass the time! It’s to build memories. Tell stories! Ham it up!

What do you do to enhance the game playing experience with your kids?

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The Family Gamers Podcast is sponsored by Wild East Games. Find Wild East Games online at WildEastGames.com, or @WildEastGames on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


  • Storytelling in games isn’t as good as it used to be, and the new games aren’t giving me any hope, either. I am just sad that games aren’t as exciting as they used to be, so I am preparing for some escape room games now.

  • I think there are plenty of games out there with great storytelling possibilities. Some escape room games do a good job with story (in fact, we’ll be reviewing one very soon), and some fall flat, just like any other genre of game.

  • Totally agree with you! You can’t say better)