Review by: Greg J. Schloesser
Designed by: Friedemann Friese
Players: 3 - 6
Time: 30 - 45 minutes
Friedemann Friese premiered two new games at the Essen 2002 show. One of these was the VERY limited edition card game known as Fundstucke. I was fortunate enough to have reserved a copy and had the opportunity to play it during the Essen show. It is primarily a set-collecting game with a simultaneous card play mechanism. In my first play, I found the game fairly random, but not completely without a modicum of control. Further plays confirmed most of my initial reactions, with the mechanism of attempting to 'out-guess' your opponents sometimes entertaining and sometimes frustrating.
The theme, as with most of Friedemann's games, is quite unusual. Players earn their living by collecting and selling junk. Each player must collect junk with their various vehicles, then exchange the junk for lucrative payoffs.
Each player is given a set of cards numbered 0 - 5. The 1 - 5 cards depict various vehicles, from the economical, yet capacity-challenged bicycle to the hefty truck. The "0" is a thief card, which allows the player to pilfer goods from his opponents. Each player also randomly receives a token numbered from 1 - 6, which is displayed face-up in front of them.
There is an abundance of square tokens depicting various articles of furniture, including couches, chairs, clocks, radios and cameras. These are thoroughly mixed and stacked face-down on the table. A cloth bag for mixing and selecting the goods should be utilized as it really improves the proceedings.
Finally, there is a stack of goods cards (known as "orders"), each depicting various combinations of furniture items. These cards are mixed and, one at a time, cards are revealed and a corresponding number of goods matching the number of goods depicted on the card are drawn from the bag and placed face-up on the table. This process is continued until there are at least two goods per player on the table.
At this point, each player selects one of his cards and plays it face-down to the table. This represents the type of vehicle the players are sending forth to collect the junk. The cards are revealed simultaneously and the order of selecting junk is rectified. The lower numbered vehciles will get to choose their junk first, but their capacity is limited. So, the player who plays his '1' bicycle card will go first (if he isn't cancelled by another player), but he can only fit one item onto the bicycle. The player who played the '5' truck will play last, but he can scoop five items of junk ... if they are still available!
As mentioned, the players will select goods in ascending order, with the player who revealed the "1" value card selecting first. However, often more than one player will have played an identical vehicle card, so these must first be resolved. If more than one player played an identical card, the player who possesses the lowest-valued number token gets to pilfer the goods, while the other matching players return their cards to their hand and go junk-less. However, the victorious player must exchange his number token with the matching player who possesses the highest-valued number token. This is a clever tie-breaking mechanism and it does work quite well.
After all ties have been rectified, the thief (the player who played the �0� card) strikes. He may steal a number of goods from his opponents equal to the number of vehicle cards still face-up on the table. This can be quite nasty.
After the thief as struck, all players who still have vehicle cards remaining face-up on the table get to grab junk. The idea here is to grab items that can be used to build the sets depicted on the order cards. Once the proper combination of goods has been acquired, they can be exchanged for the corresponding order card, which yields handsome victory points. Some combinations are more difficult to achieve, so those cards yield greater points. Several cards require 5 or 6 goods, so it will usually take more than one turn to acquire the required combination of goods. This puts that player at risk from the thief � and also the possibility that another player will scoop the goods card before you do! This aspect of the game has a strong feel of Sid Sackson's Bazaar.
Since players select goods in ascending order, it is quite possible that the players who played the higher valued vehicle cards will find the stockpile of goods severely depleted by the time it is their turn to select goods. That's a risk players must weigh when choosing which vehicle card to play. There is certainly a large degree of guess-work involved, but by analyzing the various number tokens and considering the number of good tokens available for selection each round, you often can play the odds and come out ahead. But, of course, not always!
If a player possesses the proper combination of goods, he can exchange those goods for the corresponding order card. The valuable cameras serve as "wild cards" and can be used as a substitute for any good. The order cards acquired are kept by the player and will earn victory points at the end of the game. The good tokens exchanged for the card are placed back into the bag.
Once all players have completed their goods selection, a new round begins. If there are less goods in the stockpile than required (2 per player), then order cards are revealed one at a time and goods removed from the bag until the required number is met. Another round is then completed in the manner described above. This entire process is repeated until there are no more order cards to be revealed. At this point, players tally the value of the order cards they collected, as well as any remaining goods they have in their possession. Remaining goods have the following values:
Couch - 1
Chair - 2
Clock - 3
Radio - 4
Camera - 5
The player with the highest total is "King of the Junk Pile"!
As mentioned, the game certainly has a large random element, with an abundance of guesswork required. I�m normally not too keen on this type of mechanism, but when used in a light, quick game, it can be acceptable. And, that's exactly what Fundstucke is -- a light, quick game, and it is clearly designed to be played in that manner. If you try to take the game seriously, then you will be sorely disappointed. However, it certainly finds its niche as a filler between games or a late-night closer.