Classic story-driven board game Tales of the Arabian Nights will see its last third-edition print run later this month, current publisher Z-Man Games has announced.
In a lengthy farewell post on the publisher’s blog, studio head Steve Kimball and Arabian Nights designer Eric Goldberg reflected on the game’s journey from its creation in the 1980s through to the release of its expanded and revised third edition under Z-Man in 2009. The last English-language printing of the third edition was in 2015.
Tales of the Arabian Nights is notable for its open-ended storytelling, which allows players to interact with places, inhabitants and events in the world by using a series of table-like matrices. By cross-referencing their chosen action and the initial prompt, a number of different outcomes are possible - some of which lead to the characters’ unfortunate demise, or potential wealth and happiness.
The game has garnered widespread acclaim for its innovative player-driven narrative gameplay, influenced by Choose Your Own Adventure and Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, although it has also received criticism in more recent years for its inclusion of more problematic elements, such as its handling of gender - notably in a Sex-Changed status card that prevents the player from winning.
Goldberg recalled that a fantasy setting inspired by the legends of King Arthur was originally considered for the game, before settling on its backdrop of 1001 Nights as the result of its potential for telling a huge variety of stories.
Kimball revealed that Goldberg sought to “reboot” Arabian Nights with another publisher last year, only for the project to “[fall] through due to creative differences late in the development process”.
Kimball said that Z-Man’s focus on other projects had led to the publisher having to move on from Arabian Nights, adding that the studio’s work on “existing commitments to new and established product lines [meant] we both realized that our collaboration was nearing its end”.
Earlier this year, Z-Man brought its series of Euro Classics board games to an end, including the cancellation of a planned Princes of Florence remake. Kimball indicated at the time that the move was to allow the studio to focus on its "many existing obligations, like supporting our four major game brands of Pandemic, Carcassonne, Love Letter, and Citadels”.
The upcoming print run of Tales of the Arabian Nights 3E - said to be the last opportunity to pick up Z-Man’s release - will be a “limited quantity”, and only available in English. The reprint will be exclusive to Z-Man’s own online store in the US, with a small number of copies making their way to other English-speaking countries. The final printing will be released on June 11th.
Kimball described the third-edition run as “a sendoff for this edition of the game and a launchpad for the next”, hinting at the potential for a future return for the series under a new label. No details of a future edition or new publisher have been confirmed.