A to Z Gaming: Friday the 13th

We faced off against black cats, broken mirrors, and ladders to see who could be the luckiest in Friday the 13th, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.

Basic Info: Friday the 13th
Players: 3-6
Time: 30 Minutes
Designer: Reiner Knizia
Artist: Jessica R. E. Bethke, Design Edge, Paul Herbert, Kugatsuhime, Jessica Lindsay, Elisa Teague, Markus Wagner
Publisher: IELLO

Friday the 13th is a quick card game where players face different unlucky events. The player with the lowest “unlucky” score wins.

The game is played in four rounds. Each round, the deck of cards is dealt out as evenly as possible to all players, with the starting players possibly having one more card than the others. In the three-player game, a fourth hand is dealt out and those cards are not used in the round.

Each turn, the player lays one of their cards on the table, forming three stacks – one for black cats, one for broken mirrors, and another for ladders. As they add a card, the player announces the new total of the numbers in the stack. If the number exceeds 13, they must take all of the other cards in the stack, leaving behind the card they just laid down.

The Friday the 13th cards are essentially wilds – they are placed on any stack, counting against the total.

At the end of the round, players count up how many of each type of card they have (the number on the card is irrelevant, just the number of cards). Whoever has the most of each type of unlucky event (except Friday the 13th) discards them. Any cards left in front of the player are worth one point; two points for the Friday the 13ths.

Then the cards are dealt again, and the next round begins. At the end of four rounds, the person with the lowest score wins.

I actually picked this game up by accident. I saw the word “Friday” on the side of a green, square box, and thought I was grabbing the game “Friday.” It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed I had gotten the wrong game. But I loved the look of the art, plus it had some good game design cred (Reiner Knizia), so decided to give it a try.

As filler games go, it’s okay. I find it to be largely based on luck, which, I suppose, is thematic, but not the kind of thing I find as being overly fun. There is some strategy about when you play your high cards or low ones, or which stack you take; however, if you find yourself in several rounds where you don’t have low numbers, there’s very little you can do to mitigate that. Overall I find it meh.

How is it as a 2-player 3 player game? I can’t ask my usual 2-player question because this game bottoms out at 3 players. It’s fine as a three player game – I’m not sure I’ve played it at higher player counts. There’s not much to it, but it’s a quick filler, and the extra hand that isn’t played in the 3-player version means you never quite know what’s in the game.

How about the art and component quality? I love, love, love the art – especially the black cats. However, as much as I love the art, I hate the square cards. The cards are awkward to hold, especially given the number of cards in your hand at the beginning of the round. They are high quality cards, but hard to hold and hard to shuffle.

Will this stay in my collection?  It doesn’t take up much space, so it might, but it’s not likely to come out very often.

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