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Jeff Stephens
United States
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FrishFisch is a tile laying game by Friedemann Friese. Currently out of print and highly sought after, FrishFisch is certainly nothing impressive to look at. Comprised of a laminated map and tokens, the graphics resemble something off of a free clip art web server.

It is quite a solid game, however. Although the game has a small auction element, more important is the manner in which roads are generated from tile lays. Using a logic deduction system, road tiles are only placed when they must be based on the surround tiles.

The game starts with four buildings that must be initially placed on the board. These are the source squares. Each source has a corresponding destination or store. The goal of the game is to minimize the distance between the players' four stores and the respective sources. Thankfully, no one can be further than 14 squares away, while the minimum distance is one.

There are two types of tiles in the game: roads and buildings. Buildings are the only type of tile that is directly laid. When a player turns up a building, he must auction it off in a single closed bid if it is a store, or he must place it on a space he has already reserved with a marker.

After the building is placed, the game now gets complicated. Every building and empty plot must still have road access. If a space on the board cannot get road access, then it becomes a road by default.

Game play is pretty tricky. Players are probably going to have stores on the board before there are roads leading to it. Therefore, other players can try and block him or her out by placing buildings in such a way as to run the road away from his or her store. Likewise, it takes a little getting used to the fact that you are trying to minimize the road length, but you are not actually placing roads, but buildings. Therefore, there is muttering, sputtering, blank staring, and cursing as someone realizes that the plot he was building towards just become a road because of a play two turns earlier.

I rather liked it. It was the first time I saw a game where the object tiles could only be indirectly played. Downtime was a problem, but the game picked up at the end where the possibilities quickly became fewer and fewer. The only real problem with the game is that it has the reputation as a mentally intense game, like Die Macher, and so will only appeal to a limited number of gamers. Indeed, I completely agree with one person's opinion that this game is badly in need of a reprint. Both to bring down the outrageous prices on Ebay and to update the poor board and graphics. I give the game a B.
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