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Subject: Funny Friends Rio Grande Version review rss

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Andy Hunsucker
United States
Bloomington
Indiana
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My group played our first game of Funny Friends on Friday, and we enjoyed it quite a bit.

Overview

Funny Friends is a light card game with some auction and race elements. You begin at puberty, and by playing cards, have life experiences, and shape your personality in the game. You then fulfill life goals based on the personality you have created. The life goals range from the mildly humorous to the outright absurd, and the game hinges on the humor here. I imagine there's another theme that might fit this gameplay, but I doubt it would be anywhere near as fun.

There's a reasonable degree of player interaction, but most of it is not forced. The fun of puzzling out the different symbols as they relate to the cause and effect is a great way to have fun in the game. Those looking for a "take that" sort of game will likely be disappointed, there aren't many opportunities to slow down your opponents, except by perhaps taking the card they wanted. It is mostly a race against the other players to fulfill as many goals as possible before anyone else does.

Components

The game comes in a flat box the same size as Fearsome Floors with plenty of room for all of the components, however snug it might seem. There are 6 player boards in different colors, and a set of wooden discs and player markers and call markers in each color. Each of the cardboard player markers is doublesided, so each player can choose to play a male character, or a female character.

There are also time markers, sex/child markers, and neutral player markers (double -sided, one side female, one side male) to add more potential friends to the game. All of the cardboard markers come on a single counter-sheet, and were easy enough to punch out, but were so tightly packed that while trying to keep things separated, I managed to punch out some markers before I was ready.

A great number of cards come with the game as well. A deck of Puberty cards in red, two decks of Life Cards (denoted as A and B on their backs), and a set of life goal cards, and Mega Goal cards. Each of the life goals are separated into different categories, that represent different aspects of the player's life.

The cards are nicely printed and colorful, on a good thick card stock, but easy enough to shuffle. They are also white bordered, which makes it harder to see the inevitable wear around the edges.

The rulebook is in full color, and does a good job of explaining what all the different pieces are used for before explaining how to use them. This is especially important for the cards, as they are broken up into separate sections. On the left side of each card is the prerequisite you must have before taking the card, and along the bottom is what you must do when you receive the card.

There is also some information on the back cover of common problems in the game, and how to rule on them.

Overall, the components are a solid 'A-'. My one gripe, is that the A Life deck and the B Life deck must remain separate, but the only indication of difference is a small letter on the backs of the cards. It's not hard to see, but you really must look at the card to see it clearly. The only other potential problem is that the red and pink might be a little too close for some people. I could also see some problems for the color blind.

Gameplay

Setup


Setup can be a bit of a pain, as each player must have a marker and call token from one of the other players before beginning. I solved this by having each baggie with the colored wooden discs contain one of each of the player and call markers.

Neutral players are added to the game to ensure that the combination of live players and neutral players exactly equals 5 men and 5 women. This is important since many cards in the game require different sex or same sex partners.

Each player recieves a stack of life goal cards which contains one each of the different life aspects, and the first mega goal card is revealed. Each player recieves a number of time tokens (time is money, quite literally in this game), depending on how far away they are sitting from the first player. Furthest away gets the most tokens. 8 tokens are counted out for each player in the game, and placed in the middle to begin, so there is a finite amount of "time" in the game.

Puberty

The game is played in two phases, "Puberty" and "Life". During Puberty, 3 cards from the Puberty deck per player are placed out on the table, and each player may take one action per turn. These actions are:

1) Take and resolve a card - Simply choose any card you like, and resolve it's effects. Most cards in puberty have no prerequisites, so most are freely taken. Once taken, the cards effects are resolved by moving the wooden markers on the player board, and discarding the card. We discarded the card, but it might be fun to hang on to the cards you used during the game to look back at your "Life" at the end.

2) Resolve a goal card - Once you have reached the prereqs for a Life Goal card, you can then resolve it when it is your turn. This is important, because the game ends when one player has resolved 5 life goals. Mega goals may also be resolved in this phase, however, it would be much more difficult to attain one in puberty.

3) Pass - You may pass and take a number of time tokens depending on when you passed. More tokens for passing early. These tokens will be used in the next phase. The idea of course being, that since you have done less here, you will have more "time" to do other things during the rest of your life.

This part of the game moves quickly, since no new cards are added, it's easy enough to plan ahead. Each player in our game was able to resolve at least one goal during this section of the game.

Life

Once everyone has passed, the second phase of the game begins: "Life". This phase is very similar to the earlier phase, but adds a few elements.

First of all, each Life deck is shuffled separately (into A and B piles), and 5 of each are drawn. Then each player may take an action as described below, with the first person to pass from the previous phase getting to go first.

1) Choose and Auction a card - Instead of just selecting a card, a player chooses a card and opens the bidding, which he is allowed to place at zero. Then the bid goes around the table, and each player may bid. When all but one has passed, the player with the highest bid takes and resolves the card as in the previous phase. Anyone who doesn't have the prereqs to use the card may not bid. Bidding is done in time markers.

2) Pass - a player may pass and take time markers as in the previous phase. If there are not enough markers, a player can take what they are owed from any of the other players in the game, splitting it up however they like.

3) Fulfill a goal - As before, once a player has the prereqs they can resolve a goal on their turn.

4) Trade life goals - A player may pay 4 time markers in order to trade out as many life goals as they wish, the only caveat being that they must have one of each of the 5 goal categories in their at the end of the trading.

Once all of the players have passed, any leftover cards are removed, and a new round begins with 5 new cards from each deck.

The game ends immediately when one player achieves 5 Life Goals.

Review of Gameplay

This game is fairly light, once you get the hang of it. The hardest part is accounting for all of your new friends and who has had sex with who. Most of the game is focused on different symbols, and once you understand what they all mean, then the game falls into place pretty quickly.

Another part of the game that is confusing at first is adding new friends. Many cards allow you to add friends and bring them along, and the game is pretty free about you either adding new friends, or using a friend that you already have. The symbols are also fairly clear about when you can choose a new friend, and when you must use a friend that you already have.

An interesting mechanic in the game is the offer/call markers. If another player gets a card that you wanted that involves a friend, you may play an offer marker in their color to force them to take you along for the ride, and recieve the benefits as well. This is also the only way to make friends with the other real players at the table. Another player can also play one of these markers to force another player to come with them potentially ruining their plans. This was the most difficult part of the rules to understand, but I believe we played it correctly.

The auction mechanic works well enough, but the money was never really tight enough to make it worthwhile. This made the auction a bit of a chore. More money was spent trading out life goals than auctioning cards, and most cards went for their original bid of 0. Most players had their own specfic plans that didn't overlap with the others, and several times only one player had the prereqs to bid on a particular card. I think the amount of "time" markers available could be reduced to help this aspect.

The passing mechanics could be the most strategic part of the game. If you stay in the game, you must continue to perform actions, which might force you to resolve a card you don't want, but if you pass, you are giving the other players free reign to do as they wish. By passing too soon, a player recieves lots of money tokens, but they lose the opportunity to participate in the rest of the round. This could be dangerous, as there are many routes to fulfilling life goals, and keeping up is the most important part of the game.

Interestingly, our game ended with 3 people out of 4 with 4 life goals, and when the final player played their 5th, one other player was prepared to also play their 5th, so it was a very close game.

The game plays quickly, and we got through rules explanation and the entire game in about 90 minutes, which is about the perfect time for a light game with a high degree of humor such as this.

Overall

I really loved this game. The minor flaws didn't detract from the overall fun I had at all. My only gripes are that the game ended quite suddenly, with one player player his last goal card, and there are surprisingly few Life Goal and Mega Goal cards. There were only 7 or so of each category for the Life Goal cards, and only 4 Mega Goal cards. This game is perfectly set up for expansions however, and a new deck of life goal/mega goal or Puberty/Life cards along a theme would be welcome. With so few goal cards, it seems that it would only be 2 or 3 plays before all the cards get seen by everyone, and once that happens, the game has the potential to get stale. There are however a bounty of Life cards, which are the real meat of the game.

Censorship?

As to the censorship issues that have been discussed, nothing really seemed pulled back. I never played or saw the German version, so I don't know what would have been removed. This game is by far the raunchiest game in my collection. Anytime you can fulfill a life goal called "Coming out", by having sex with 3 same sex partners, and play a card called "It was only one time" that makes you an unwed parent in puberty, I think any talk of heavy censorship is probably unwarranted.

Scores

Components: 9.0/10
Gameplay: 7.5/10
Fun: 9.0/10

Overall: 8.5/10
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