Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule: Review Rewind

With a young daughter and son, a game about fairies and goblins is always welcome in the Fairway household. It should come as no surprise then that Game-O-Gami’s Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule is a huge hit.  This week, Fairway picks the game up again and writes the review that should have been written years ago. 

Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule, GDFR from now on, is a set-collection and hand management game by Game-o-Gami in which players try to rid their hand of goblins and collect as many fairies as they can. GDFR was one of the very first Kickstarters I backed.

Initial Impressions ^

  1. The art for the entire game is over-the-top cute.
  2. The use of a rhyming mechanic and double-sided cards is very clever, but easy enough to teach
  3. The Kickstarter version came in a very fancy metal tin, although reprints won’t
  4. Since the art matches the rhymes, even non-readers can play without assistance once they’ve got the name memorized.

Game Play ^

GDFR is a card game that uses double-sided cards. On the face of each card is a fairy and on the back is a goblin. The object of the game is to either rid your hand of all of the goblins or collect six fairies.

To play, each player is dealt four face-up goblin cards. In the center of the table, the dealer places  four face-up fairy cards.  On each side of the card there is the picture of either a fairy or goblin, a symbol, and a name.  Starting with a first player and proceeding clockwise, players play one of their face up cards to the middle of the table.

When played, can cause one of a two things to happen. First, if the name on the card rhymes with any of the cards in the middle, those cards in the middle flip over.  All of the names end in one of a set of sounds like “ock”, “oop”, and “elly.” So, if the goblin “Cobweb Shock” was played to the middle and the fairy “Candy Rock” was in play, Candy Rock would flip over from the fairy to the goblin side.

Second, once all of the rhyming cards have been flipped, the player collects any cards from the middle that match the played cards symbol.  There are four symbols in the game: sun and moon and frog and mushroom.  Importantly, the reverse side of the card has its opposite. So if you flip a “sun” card, the back will have the moon.

There are also a handful of “star” cards, and each player starts with one star-card goblin. The only difference here is that when played to the center of the table, all of the cards flip regardless of whether they rhyme.

The game ends when a player achieves either objective: no goblins in their hand or six fairies.

On the green ^

GDFR is one of my all time favorite Kickstarted games in part because of all the things the game does so well.

Art. The art of GDFR is just so perfect. It uses soft, bright colors for the fairies and dark and messy illustrations for the goblins. There is a lot of detail in each of the cards.

Large-sized cards.  That art is featured well on the tarot-sized cards. It would not be the same game if it were on regular poker-sized cards. And even though they’re big cards, it uses so few that it’s readily portable and playable almost anywhere like on planes, at restaurants, or on the sidelines of your sister’s soccer game.

Rhyming schemes. The rhyming mechanism in the game is great. The names had to the cute nature of the game and instantly appeal to kids. Using the rhymes as a core game play mechanism is seamlessly done.

Easy to setup and teach. GDFR doesn’t have any complicated rules: just two basic steps.

Play it in reverse. Are you a fan of goblins and not fairies? The other great idea is to play the game in reverse. Once you’ve played the right way, playing it backwards is a real brain burner.

Where it comes up short ^

There is really two issues with the game: the first player has a huge advantage and the game can result in “cycles.” Neither of these issue detract too much from how great the game is though.

First player advantage. Playing that first card is a significant advantage. Among other things, it’s possible to have a great deal where the fairies in the middle line up well with a goblin in your hand. More players take multiple fairies on the first turn than at any other point in the game.

In addition, since the game ends when there are no more goblins in your hand, the first player could win on just the fourth turn. Vigilant other players might be able to defeat that possibility, though.

Cycles.  From time to time, especially in two-player games, you can reach a point where the rhyming/flipping results in players that just go back and forth without advancing the game. It usually requires a player to sacrifice a fairy to continue playing.

In the hole ^

GDFR is just a terrific, elegantly simple game with cool art and interesting gameplay mechanisms. I like this game so much that I bought a bunch of copies to give as gifts for my kids’ friends’ birthdays. I’d say that Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule is a must have game for any family of gamers.

Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule is in the hole for a birdie! ^

Bonus pic: we’re playing an early version of the print and play:


Your turn. Share your thoughts: