Fog of Love: a surprisingly poignant board game
There’s something fascinating about watching a romantic comedy and seeing love between two imperfect characters blossom amongst the on-screen chaos. The desire to be in a whacky story with larger-than-life characters, the pull of seeing a wild story come to an end (happy or otherwise) – it’s all oddly attractive.
In Fog of Love by Jacob Jaskov, players can create scenarios and a fictional life of whacky romance with friends, family, and lovers alike. Described as a romantic comedy turned board game, two players create their own unique characters. Then, they live out one of three fully realized scenarios chosen from the base game.
Setting up the game and learning the basic rules is incredibly simple. An instruction booklet complete with visual guides, simple language, and annotations help players with everything they need to get started on their first romantic outing. A handy guided tutorial scenario is also available upon first set-up which allows players to learn as they play.
A Story of Exploration
The ultimate goal for Fog of Love is to see a scenario end. There’s no winning or losing involved, simply a means to experience a story in its entirety. After choosing a scenario, players will have a chance to create their own characters from a number of different cards. Personality traits, careers, and physical traits are all done through a simple card drawing system. Hilarity ensues when players get to give their partners physical features for them as it’s the first thing their characters notice about each other. Players could have a shy police officer, who has a seducing scent and hairy armpits, date a perfectionist TV star with a squeaky voice and broad shoulders. Players also get the chance to role play and act as their created characters.
Different Goals for Different Folks
Once players create characters, the most important aspect of the game comes into play. Characters will have distinct personalities which provide trait goals they wish to fulfill. This is emulative of real life, in which couples often have to put aside their own goals in order to satisfy their relationship. These trait goals form the overall experience of Fog of Love, in which players will have to make choices that affect their goals.
Like all relationships, Fog of Love provides a delicate balance between two people who may or may not end up in a happy ending, and that’s entirely okay.
In order to fulfill trait goals, players can play scene cards. Scene cards cover a variety of situations and are categorized as sweet, dramatic, and serious. For example, players may find themselves at Ikea for the first time and attempting to buy furniture. The scenarios players find themselves in can be awkward, romantic, and often hilarious, especially when players act as their characters. Ultimately, it is up to the players to see these scenes played out to find out if their characters stay together at the end.
Is Love Your Destiny?
Possibly the best and most interesting mechanic Fog of Love provides are the Destiny cards. Destinies are played in the middle of the scenario as two characters can start to see a future with each other. Depending on the trait goals each character has and whether or not they’re feeling fulfilled (visualized by little hearts), individual destinies may differ from each other. Keep in mind that players keep Destiny cards secret from each other. The shy police officer may see a future and hope to see an “Equal Partners” destiny, whereas the perfectionist TV star may want to break up in an “Honorable Exit.”
The secret Destiny cards create a sense of tension and drama. They will keep players constantly guessing at what their partner’s next move may be. This ultimately allows Fog of Love to be competitive and co-operative at the same time.
Fog of Love does something many board games have difficulty achieving. It creates a sense of immersion and attachment. As each game ends, a sense of attachment to characters is often present and retrospection starts to kick in. Like with many relationships, the end will always leave a series of “maybe…?” questions which could never be answered. After playing Fog of Love, players may come to realize sometimes it’s okay if things don’t work out; all that really matters is the experience. Even cleaning up after a session is strangely poetic. Looking back at the mess of cards and tokens will bring questions of “How could I start again?” or “I wonder how this could have ended differently?”
The answer is to simply clean up and start again.