(2016 - Stronghold Games)
Designer Friedemann Friese (Power Grid, Fearsome Floors, Fauna, Friday, 504) is well known for both his fondness of green, as well as his fiddling with formulaic forms of game design, finding fresh and fascinating ways to feature them in his games. Wow, that's a lot of "F's"! Both of his 2016 releases, Fabled Fruit (which I'll be taking a look at later this month) and Fuji Flush are games with familiar mechanics, but how these gameplay elements are incorporated in the design is what makes Friese unique.
Fuji Flush is a small card games that many would consider a "filler" on game night. With an average play time of about 15 minutes, Fuji Flush is a game in which players will attempt to rid their hand of cards before any other player. Each player begins the game with 6 cards, numbered anywhere between 2-20 (though not all values in between these values are included). On his turn, a player will play a card from his hand onto the table in front of him. If that card remains there by the start of his next turn, he can get rid of it. However, if an opposing player plays a card higher than his card's value before his next turn, the card is discarded (or "flushed"), and he'll have to draw a new card. Thus ending up with the same number of cards he had in his hand to begin with. What makes Fuji Flush unique is a teamwork element in which players can work together to force another player to flush a card that they normally wouldn't have to. The first player to rid his hand of all cards, including the card placed in front of him, is the winner.
- Deck of Fuji Flush cards (consisting values of 2-20)
At the beginning of the game, the deck of Fuji Flush cards are shuffled together and placed face-down near the center of the board to create a draw deck. Each player will then draw 6 cards to create their starting hand. Throughout the game, players will attempt to rid their hands of these cards, with the first person to rid all cards from his hand being the winner.
During the game, players will attempt to play a card out in front of them in hopes that it will survive there until his next turn. If so, that card is considered "pushed through", and is discarded. If the player is able to push all his cards through before his opponents, he wins. On a player's turn, he can play any card from his hand, placing it face-up in front of him. For instance, as seen above, Player A has decided to play a #8 to start the game.
Play then moves clockwise to the next player, and that player can choose to play any card from their hand. Once played, if that card's value is higher than any other card on the table, those cards are considered "flushed", and players that own them will need to discard them and draw a new card from the draw deck as a replacement. For instance, it is Player B's turn to play a card. He plays a #4 from his hand.
This card does not beat Player A's #8, therefore Player A does not need to flush it from play. Player C then plays a #7. Because Player C's card is higher than the #4, that card is flushed from play and Player B will need to draw a replacement. Player A's #8 remains unaffected. Even if Player C had played an #8 as well, Player A's card would still remain, as it is not lower in value than Player C's card (although playing the same card as another player has its own advantages; see below).
Because there are a handful of high-end valued cards in the game, it's possible for players to work together and team up against an opponent to make sure his card is flushed before turn order returns to him. If a player plays a card, and that card's value matches another card (or cards) in play, those values are totaled together. For instance, Player D plays a #7 on his turn. Normally this card would not flush Player A's #8, however Player C also has a #7 on the table. Therefore, the values of both #7 cards are now considered #14's.
Because the combined value is higher than the #8, Player A's card is flushed and he'll need to draw a new card. It's important to note that if a #14 is played while these two #7's are on the table, these values are not combined to reach #28. However, if a third #7 was played, all #7's would total together for a value of #21.
If it is the player's turn to play a card, and he still has a card face-up in front of him, that card is pushed through. The card is discarded, though he won't have to draw a new card as a replacement. The player now has one fewer cards in his hand to manage, and it one step closer to winning. If a player pushes through a card, and other players have the same value face-up in front of them, these players get to go ahead and push their cards through at this point, even though its not their turn. So using the previous example, if it is Player C's turn again, and he's able to push his #7 card through, Player D would push his #7 through at this time. Working together can help you push cards through without having to wait a full round, however you're also helping other players push cards through as well. So it's important to decide when this is the best move, and when to attempt to flush cards on your own.
The game ends when a player has pushed all of his cards through. This means he no longer has any cards in his hand and no card face-up in front of him on the table. This player is then the winner, although it is possible to for players to share a victory, if the last player pushes a card through that matches another player's last card on the table.
Fuji Flush is a terrific little filler to pull out during game night, but take note; the box lists the player count from 3-8, though the game really only shines with 5 or more. The more players, the better the teamwork aspect of the game comes through, as well as a minimized amount of luck. Not that the higher player-count is void of luck. But with a 3-4 player game, many of the cards can get pushed through simply as a result of bad draws. And the more players involved, the more interesting the teamwork aspect becomes. It may take longer for turn order to get back to you, but you can use the teamwork element to your advantage. Being able to combo with another player early in a round can be to your advantage. And even if another player does play a high card to flush your combination, you've forced a high card out.
While the game is pretty light, and there's not a ton of deep strategy, keeping as many high cards towards the end of the game as you can seems to be a priority. If players are working as teams early in the game to flush out cards, it becomes more likely towards the end of the game that your high-value cards will get through. Also, if its a tight game that comes down to a few players have a single card, your in a much better position with that higher value.
Friedemann Friese is well-known for his interesting and unique experimenting with gameplay mechanics. While Fuji Flush doesn't attempt to be more than an entertaining filler, the use of working together with other players to force an opponent to keep cards in their hand is a refreshing aspect in card games. The balancing of when to make the decision to work with another player and when to attempt to force a card through on your own is also an interesting one. Fuji Flush is a simple cards game that's easy enough to teach to the casual, non-hobby gamers in your circle, but works well as a game night filler, as long as you have 5 players or more.
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