Game Buzz: Friday

Yesterday was Thursday.  Tomorrow is Saturday.  And Sunday comes afterwards.  But today it is..

image by BGG user Henning

We we we so excited!  OK, I’ll stop that now.  Friday is a game designed by Friedemann Friese, published by his company, 2F-Spiele, and domestically by Rio Grande.  It takes about 25 minutes to play, and is for people aged 10 and up.  It’s unique in the history of this particular blog in that it’s a solitaire game.  Thematically, it’s based in the world of Robinson Crusoe.  You’re Friday, the native that Crusoe befriends.  Your objective is to help Crusoe get off the island by defeating two pirates.

A little bit about the history of this game.  Friedemann Friese is known for his obsession with the letter F, as well as the color green.  This is reflected in most of his games: Funkenschlag (called Power Grid in the US), Fearsome Floors, Funny Friends, Fast Flowing Forest Fellers, Fiji, and others.  Friday is the second game in what he’s calling his Friday project – games that he only works on on Fridays, and only for periods of time that begin with the letter F (5 minutes, 45 minutes, 4 hours, etc).  The original plan was that he’d work on the first game in the project, Black Friday, for five years.  However, it only took him two years, and it was released in 2010.

Friday is a kind of deck-building game, and comes with 72 cards.  Among these cards are 3 step cards, 59 fighting cards, and 10 pirate cards (two will be drawn as your final opponents).  There are also 22 life points and 3 storage boards.  There are four different levels of play.  At level one (the easiest), your deck will consist of 18 starting cards, with 11 aging cards and 30 hazard/knowledge cards separated out.  You’ll also begin with 20 life points, and 2 in reserve.  Level 2 is the same, with a random aging card shuffled into your starting deck.  Level 3 adds the possibility of getting the “Very Stupid” card.  Level 4 reduces your starting life tokens to 18.

In each turn, you’ll draw two hazard cards, choose one, and fight it.  The hazard card you choose will indicate a number of fighting cards you can draw for free.  It will also let you know how many fighting points you need, depending on which step you’re in (green, red or yellow – you begin on green).  The fighting cards will have a number of points that you can apply to beating this goal.  You can also use the special abilities of the cards as soon as you draw them.  You don’t have to draw all of your allotted cards.  However, if you do draw all of your free cards, you may draw additional cards, discarding one life point per card drawn.

If you win the fight (with a sum that is equal to or greater than the hazard total), the hazard card will go into your discard pile, where it will turn into a knowledge card.  If you lose, you discard life points equal to the difference between the hazard and your available fighting points.  For each life token you lose, however, you may trash one card.  Your starting deck has some bad cards in it, so you may want to lose deliberately so you can get rid of them.  The hazard is discarded to the hazard discard pile.

As long as there are at least 2 cards left in the hazard deck, you continue.  If not, you move on to the next step, which will have higher numbers you need to beat.  After the third step (red), it will be time to fight the pirates.  Take one pirate and fight it – you cannot choose to lose and pay with life points.  After you defeat the first, you must defeat the second.  If you do, you win.  If you ever run out of life tokens, you lose.

Friedemann Friese has always been a designer that kind of hovers on the fringe of traditional game design.  He comes up with some quirky ideas, and this game is no exception.  Along with the deck-building aspects, there’s a lot of push your luck here.  There does seem to be a fair amount of randomness, but deciding when to push and when to give in seems to be the big strategy here.  The rules seems very simple to follow, but the game probably needs to be played to really be appreciated.

The reason this game stands out to me is that it is a widely-distributed solitaire game from a fairly major publisher.  We don’t see a lot of those – a lot of solitaire board games are either variants of genres like co-ops, or print-and-play, or wargames.  I appreciate that Friedemann was willing to try his hand at the genre.  At the same time, $20 seems pretty steep for what you get.  I’m assuming that there’s a lot of replayability, but still, it lacks that social experience.  That, I’m sure, will turn a lot of people away.  I’m interested in giving it a shot, but I don’t know if I want to own it.  Maybe I can be convinced – I’ve always liked solo games.  Thanks for reading!

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4 comments

  1. I don’t know about the solo games idea. Board games are supposed to be a social experience. Interaction with other people is one of the main reasons for board game popularity.

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