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Subject: Playing with yourself on a desert island rss

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Bryan Carpenter
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Haverhill
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What’s It About?

Friday is a card game themed around the story of Robinson Crusoe. It’s a solo game only – the player takes on the role of Friday, Crusoe’s companion from the original book, to try and beat the game. The player must help Robinson to get better at surviving and finally defeat two pirates so that he can escape the island.

The Components: Cards and Wood

The game itself comes in a fairly small box so it’s quite easy to transport. The artwork is cartoony, and to be honest I passed this game by first time due to the artwork. Considering the brain-burning nature of the game I’m surprised it was produced with this kind of look. I guess it provides some light relief during the game.

The game comes with 72 cards made up of several types. The cards are not standard size; instead they are an elongated shape. This is probably due to the dual nature of the hazards in the game (more on that later).

The Fighting, Ageing and Hazard cards all look similar. Each of these cards features a picture of Robinson, possibly looking afraid or stupid and then more fierce as the cards get better. The lower half of the Fighting and Ageing cards shows a pallisade.

The majority of the cards in the game are the Hazard cards. They are designed to be played orientated one way as Hazards. If defeated they become Fighting cards and are then played rotated 180°. As Hazards, the right-way-up picture depicts the Hazard (animals, cannibals, jungle). As fighting cards, the picture is similar to the Fighting cards.

The Pirate’s cards have landscape artwork showing a scene with a pirate ship at sea. The bottom of the card has a section describing the special rules for that pirate (each pirate has their own special rules).

Finally there are three Phase cards. These are used to keep track of the phase of the game the player is in. Each is a different colour and shows some jungle leaves with eyes pearing out. As the Phases progress, the eyes look more dangerous.

The game also comes with 22 green, wooden ‘leaf’ tokens which are used to keep track of Robinson’s life. Plus there are three boards to keep decks on: one for the Hazards, one for the Aging cards and finally one for the Fighting cards.

How It Works
Fighting Hazards

Basically, each turn the player reveals the top two cards of the Hazard deck. He* then decides which one Robinson should fight and discards the other.
The chosen Hazard card has a target number. It also indicates a number of Fighting cards that can be revealed for free. The player reveals Fighting cards until either the total value of the Fighting cards equals or exceeds the Hazard’s target, or he runs out of free draws.
In the former case, the Hazard is defeated and it and the Fighting cards just used are discarded to the Fighting card discard pile (it will crop up again as a Fighting card later).
In the latter case, the player can decide that Robinson is defeated by the Hazard or he can draw extra cards, one at a time, paying 1 Life for each card drawn. Each time a card is drawn and the Fighting cards’ value doesn’t equal or exceed the Hazard target then the player makes the choice again. This continues until either the Hazard is defeated as mentioned before, or Robinson is defeated, or Robinson doesn’t have any more life left to pay – at which point he dies and the player loses.

Choose to Lose!

This is very important. If Robinson loses against a Hazard then the amount he lost by must be paid for in Life points (again, not enough and he dies). For each point spent this way, the player can destroy one of the Fighting cards used (Ageing cards require two Life points). This lets the player thin out the bad cards from the Fighting deck thus making the deck work better.

Getting Old

If the Fighting deck runs out then the player shuffles up the Fighting discard pile (hopefully now brimming with nice cards won from the Hazard deck) and carries on drawing from there. There is a problem, though. Each time the deck is renewed like this, an Ageing card must be added. Ageing cards are bad and are a real hindrance. A player doesn’t want to have to be shuffling these in too often!

Hazards and Pirates

When the Hazard deck runs out, then the player shuffles up the Hazard discards to make a new deck. However, the next Phase card is revealed which makes the target on each Hazard more difficult. Once the player has gone through the deck three times, then it is time to face the two Pirates!
The Pirates are basically super-tough cards. The player will need to have made his fighting deck lean and mean in order to deal with the two Pirates. Each Pirate has a different ability to make them more of a challenge. If the player defeats them, though, then he can claim victory!

Any Good?
Pros

There’s a lot going for this little game. It’s simple enough to get your head around the basic concept but at the same time you really find yourself poring over some of the decisions that come up in the game. Many of the cards have special abilities when used as fighting cards giving another layer to think about. Combine that with the number of cards in the deck and you have a game that has a good amount of replayability.

Repeated plays do feel different. In one game you might find yourself spending a lot of life rapidly to thin out your deck because the first Hazards are simply to difficult. The following game might feel easier because that hasn’t happened but then a tricky hazard crops up later and spoils your plans.

Play can be very tense. You start off feeling confident with lots of life but you soon find yourself with only a couple of Life tokens left begging that the top Fighting card will be enough to defeat the Hazard! This gives the feeling that the game is a real challenge. When you do win against the game then you truly feel like you achieved something!

The length of play is good, too. It takes about 20 minutes to play a game so fits nicely into a lunchbreak if you’ve found yourself on your tod (as I have a few times ). And if you think it’s all getting a bit too easy, there is a scoring mechanism of adding up good cards and taking off bad cards. This means a player can see if he is improving or not over time. If the game is still too easy then there are four levels to play at, making the game gradually more and more difficult.

Finally, the price is very reasonable. Amazon currently lists this at about £11, although I would strongly encourage visting your Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS) and buying from them. That’s a nice price for a little game to get out and play with yourself periodically. Sure, you can play Arkham Horror by yourself but that costs upwards of £50 and takes 3-4 hours to play!

Cons

There’s not many cons, to be honest. One might be the artwork; as I mentioned above I did walk past this game the first time I saw it. The art gave me no idea of how deep the game is. But once you’ve got playing the artwork is soon ok.

Secondly, there might be a slight issue with some translations. The rulebook is nicely laid out and gives plenty of examples but there were still a couple of rules that confused me the first time I played it. A couple of terms were used with slightly different meanings in the rules leading to some misunderstanding. I did have to check the rule about paying life when being defeated by a Hazard as I thought I still got to keep the Hazard afterwards! This is quite fundamental!

But those are small cons compared to the Pros. This game is very good and I have already clocked up many games of it since acquiring it this year. I suspect there are many more games of Friday to be had by me. The only thing is: can you bring yourself to game solo? This almost feels like crossing a certain line of geekiness. That said, there are times that you just want to game and there’s nobody around!

I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys board games in general, particular if they sometimes have problem getting enough people together to scratch that board game itch! Go on – give Crusoe a hand, you’ll feel a real sense of victory when he escapes from the island!

Bootnote

* I know, ‘he or she’ unfortunately that would make reading this review much more long-winded. With my verbosity it is already long-winded enough. If you’d prefer to read ‘she’ then please do so, I’m just trying to keep things simple.

This review was originally posted on www.therealjobby.co.uk
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Raymond Jones
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Although your title, "Playing with yourself," aroused (if I may use the term), expectations of a different sort, I appreciate your overview of this game.
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jobby wrote:

* I know, ‘he or she’ unfortunately that would make reading this review much more long-winded. With my verbosity it is already long-winded enough. If you’d prefer to read ‘she’ then please do so, I’m just trying to keep things simple.


Avoid this tiresome issue by saying "the player" and using "they" instead of he/she.

p.s. Nice review
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