Hollow Woods

Seemingly endless possibilities for future stories

Hollow Woods Story Telling Game Review

In this review I talk about the experiences of playing board games with my children for a different perspective on tabletop reviews. Our first review is of Hollow Woods which is an imaginative story telling card game I played with my daughter Phoebe, who is nine years old.

Hollow Woods comes in an attractive yet unassuming box that my daughter picked up after loving the idea of a more in-depth story telling game, a bit like our various sets of Story Cubes but with a bit more detail!

Inside the box is a set of 20 black and white picture cards, and two smalls sets of rules and explanations of some of the details in the pictures. Drawing from the Victorian craze of Myrioramas which were sets of illustrated cards that could be arranged and re-arranged to form different pictures; Hollow Woods offers a unique game for all ages.

These cards fit together seamlessly which is incredibly satisfying considering there are so many different combinations of cards. According to the creators of the game, there is 2.4 Quintillion different story telling possibilities!

Sinister Story Relay

There are a few ways to play the game as detailed in the instruction booklet. The first game we played was the ‘Sinister Story Relay’. In this version of the game you place all twenty cards face down across the table (or floor if you table is not big enough!). Players take it in turn to reveal each card and begin their story. The player with the last card will be responsible for trying to wrap up the story. We loved the story relay version of the game as it allowed for many different parts of the story to come alive, including a sad goblin looking for his long-lost love and an old lady called Myrtle who owned the local pub! My only criticism of this version of play is as most of the cards are very in-depth and detailed we struggled to carry the story on without creating more story arcs that we felt were challenging to conclude and bring to a satisfying resolution. An addition of some more basic landscape heavy cards would likely have solved this problem.

An interesting way my daughter likes to play this version is solo using the game to write down her stories in her notebooks. She’ll use the cards to get her creativity flowing and is not afraid to shift around and re-order cards to get the best story. I can see this would be a great learning resource in schools or clubs for kids wanting to write, tell stories or spark their imagination.

Myriad Mysteries

The next version of the game is called ‘Myriad Mysteries’ which is for 2-5 players. During these mysteries, each player gets a set of 3 or 4 cards and is tasked with making their own story using the cards and in larger games the players will vote on their favourite story. In our game with two players we could not use the voting element but enjoyed listening to each other’s stories as we read them aloud. One thing that came apparent to me when playing this version of the game is that Phoebe was using some characters she had previously created in other games, which I found very interesting as it acted as a way of developing characters and showcases how the game modes work together well.

First and Last

Next, we played the third suggested game which is called ‘First and Last’. Two cards are randomly dealt and placed at the start and the end of the story while the players each receive 3 cards and must attempt to fill the story in. What I enjoyed about this version of the game is it made it very clear that the story needed to have a solid finish which sometimes children and even adults can struggle with in these types of storytelling games. I can also see that this version of play might be good for those a bit shy or perhaps new to the concept to let their imagination run wild, by the having the same beginning and end of the story as everyone else who plays. Dire Consequences The final game suggestion is called ‘Dire Consequences’ and probably the most unusual of the games (I can see it being the one that works well with mixed age groups). In this 2-4 player version everyone is dealt an equal number of cards and takes it in turns to place it next to that of the previous player to build a story; however, some of the card have special consequences. I won’t go into all the special powers the cards have as to keep some of it a surprise but one of our favourites is the mischievous goblin card which can make the rest of the players do their bidding for the remainder of the game. The rules suggest perhaps making them take a lap round the living room, however in our game my daughter got creative, and I had to play the rest of the game with a colander on my head!

Final Thoughts

Overall, I was surprised just how much I loved this game. I thought it was going to be quite a simple story telling game that would be fun, but not for an extended period of time. What I got was well over an hour of entertaining creative fun! The cards are in particular are really striking, as they have so much detail - I found myself looking over again and finding additional concealed elements that I had missed before such as a hidden figure in the woods.

In our games we also added sound effects and various accents which helped make the stories immersive and entertaining. I am eager to play Hollow Woods again as it seems to have endless possibilities for future stories.