- For ages 10 and up
- For 3 to 5 players
- Approximately 20 minutes to complete
- Active Listening & Communication
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Hand/Resource Management
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Capture (and save) the most fairies to become the magical victor
- Gamer Geek approved!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
Scottish novelist, playwright, and creator of Peter Pan, Sir. James Matthew Barrie wrote, “Every time a child says ‘I don’t believe in fairies’ there is a little fairy somewhere that falls dead.” Yikes. In this game, whether you believe in fairies or not is inconsequential. Your only goal is to protect and save. To do so, you must follow the rules of nature and outthink the goblins (and your opponents). Sound easy? It’s not. This game might not require you to believe in winged sprites, but it will need all your attention if the fairies are to survive.
Fairy Season, designed by Dan Fish, Gavin Jenkins, and published by Good Games Publishing, is comprised of 90 cards. The cards are as thick and as durable as your standard playing card. The illustrations by artist Sean Andrew “Muttonhead” Murray are bright, colorful, and whimsical. They do an excellent job of adding to the game’s thematic element, depicting each of the different fairies and goblins the players will be contending with.
Entering the Enchanted Forest
To set up the game, first take all the cards and shuffle them together.
Second, deal five cards to each player, face-down. This is the player’s starting hand. Each player should look at their cards but keep them hidden from their opponent’s until played.
Third, place the remaining deck of cards face-down in the middle of the playing area. This is the draw deck for the duration of the game. Leave room for a discard pile.
That’s it for the game set up. Determine who will go first and begin.
Fairy Identification Guide
There are several cards in the game. Each is summarized here.
The majority of the deck is comprised of Faries that are associated with one of the four seasons. They have a number value between one and eight. Each Fairy also has a special ability to either allow the player to draw a card from the draw deck or place a card from their hand to their Stash.
There are four Royal Fairies in the game. These are special cards that allow the player to negate a Trap card. While they do not have any special abilities, they are worth points at the end of the game.
Goblin cards allow the player to steal cards and change the game rules temporarily. They also allow the player to avoid “flunking” in a hand, regardless of the card’s ability is possible to resolve or not.
Trap cards force the possible end of a Swarm. Nasty, really.
Fairy Season is played in turns and hands with no set number of hands per game. A typical hand is summarized here.
Step One: Opening Card
The first player of the hand chooses a card and plays it face-up in a discard pile next to the draw deck. This discard pile is referred to as the “Swarm.” Any card can be played at this time, although it’s suggested for new players to consider using a “Spring” or “Summer” Fairy card to ensure some gameplay semblance during the hand. That is to say, not playing a Spring or Summer will reduce the time the hand is played out.
If the card played has an ability, it’s resolved as soon as it is placed in the Swarm. If the ability is not resolvable, ignore it.
Step Two: Begin the Hunt
The next player in turn order sequence now plays to the Swarm if possible. This starts the “Hunt” (which is a fun way of saying “hand,” I suppose, thematically speaking).
The Hunt has a few rules that need to be honored. They are as follows:
- A player is never forced to play any card from their hand if they don’t want to.
- Not playing to the Swarm means the players have “flunked” (which means they cannot – or choose not – to follow the last card played to the Swarm).
- Flunking does not mean you are out of the hand. Players can attempt to play a card again on their next turn.
- If a player doesn’t have any cards left in their hand during their turn, they automatically flunk.
- Any of the four card types can be played to the Hunt (Fairies, Royal Fairies, Goblins, and Traps)
- Normal play requires the card sequence to follow the seasons’ metrological sequence and an ascending number value. For example, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and then Winter for the seasons and numbers one through eight. In this way, Spring 7 comes before Summer 1. Get it? Easy stuff. Players MUST play first to the Season and then to the number value of equal or greater value if possible (meaning they have the cards in their hand). If the player cannot, they play a Fairy for the next available season.
- If a player can place a card on the Swarm that matches the season and number value, they resolve the card ability as noted and then get a bonus action of either drawing a card from the deck or placing any card in their hand into their Stash.
- Fairies can be played on top of any card in the Swarm except Traps.
Playing Royal Fairies:
- Royal Fairies are the only card that can be played out of turn to negate a Trap and save a Swarm.
- If a player is unable to play a card to the Swarm, they flunk. The next player in the turn order sequence can then play a Royal Fairy to save the Swarm and continue the Hand. The player who flunked can play a card again on their next turn.
- Royal Fairies can be played on top of any card in the Swarm.
- Goblin card abilities do not determine if the Goblin card can be played or not, making them a “Wild” card. This allows the player to continue to be in the hand.
- Goblin cards are always played sideways across the Swarm, allowing all players to see the last played Fairy card season and number value.
- Goblins can be played on top of any card in the Swarm except Traps and Royal Fairies.
- Traps force the possible end of the Swarm.
- Trap cards are always played sideways across the Swarm, allowing all players to see the last played Fairy card season and number value.
- The next player in turn order sequence must play a Royal Fairy or flunks. The next player in turn order sequence must also do so. This continues until either an opponent plays a Royal Fairy to the Swarm or none of the player’s opponent’s can. If this occurs, the Swarm is won by the player. Otherwise, the game continues with the next player taking their turn as normal.
- Traps can be played on top of any card in the Swarm except Royal Fairies.
Step Three: End the Hunt
The Swarm is won when only one player can place a card to the Swarm. This player has won the Swarm and the hand. All the cards currently in the Swarm are collected and placed next to the winning player in a single face-up pile referred to as the “Stash.” The cards in the player’s Stash will be counted for points at the end of the game.
This ends the hand. A new hand now begins with the first player of the hand being the last player to flunk. Each player is dealt with several cards to bring their hand to a total of five cards.
A Fairy Reunion
The endgame is triggered when the last card from the draw deck is collected. The gameplay continues as normal. All players then count their points in their Stash.
- Each Fairy is worth one point.
- Each Royal Fairy is worth two points.
- Goblins and Traps are worth zero points.
In the rare event that a player collects all four of the Royal Fairies in their Stash, the game comes to an immediate end, and the player wins regardless of how many points any other player has in their Stash.
To learn more about Fairy Season, visit the game’s webpage.
The Child Geeks had a wonderful time with the game, finding it fun, fast, and, most importantly, engaging. According to one Child Geek, “I like the game a lot. I didn’t know what to think about it at first because of all the fairies – I like dragons better – but the game was a lot of fun.” Another Child Geek said, “I liked it much better than the other games that my parents make me play with cards. This game has pretty fairies and funny goblins. I love it when I make my mom go grrrr!” The game was a real delight with our youngest and most inexperienced geeks, resulting in a vote of full approval.
The Parent Geeks also found the game to be fun. They didn’t much care for the game’s thematic elements – finding it to be largely unimportant – but the game itself was a big hit. According to one Parent Geek, “The game is unassuming. Easy to approach and cute. When you read the rules, you say to yourself – jeepers, this is easy – but it isn’t. The game kept me leaning in at the table and thinking about every card. Excellent stuff.” Another Parent Geek said, “As trick-taking card games go, I really enjoyed this one. Fun with fairies for the kids and an exciting card game for us adults who take our card games super serious.” When all the fairies had returned home, the Parent Geeks gave Fairy Season their full approval.
The Gamer Geeks didn’t care for the game’s theme. It turns out fairies are not “cool” among the dude Gamer Geeks, but our lady Gamer Geeks found it very approachable. Regardless of gender, our Gamer Geeks all came to the same conclusion. According to one Gamer Geek, “An easy card game to learn but not to master. I was eager to play each hand and enjoyed myself a good deal. A fun game as a teaser for more games to come.” Another Gamer Geek said, “A delightful little card game that has enough depth to it to make me feel my time was well spent playing it.” When all the goblins were chased away, the Gamer Geeks were happy to give Fairy Season their full approval.
I rather enjoyed Fairy Season, finding it to be a fast-paced and interesting trick-taking card game with a fun twist on hand-management. And here is where I need to stop gushing and make sure you – the reader – really understand what this game is. It’s a card game. Plain and simple. Yes, it has fairies and goblins, but this is just the thematic fun of the game. What you really have here – removing all that fairy nonsense – is a card game that truly makes you think. I liked that and found myself often forgetting that I was playing a game about saving fairies. This is good, as I’m not a member of the fairy fan club.
Card games can feel like a dime a dozen. That is to say – for those of you not familiar with the phrase – cheap and abundant. This is true. Heck, go to one of my favorite websites, Pagat.com, and you’ll see that a simple deck of 52 standard playing cards is anything but. Fairy Season, however, did a great job of taking what I would consider the mundane and making it a lot of fun with interesting twists and turns—a real delight.
Do try Fairy Season when time allows. Even if you aren’t a fan of card games in general, I think you’ll enjoy the casual play, in-depth choices you have to make, and the speed at which the game hurdles you along from start to finish. Do give this magical little game a try.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.