A to Z Gaming: Friday

I tried to help Robinson Crusoe survive the hazards of an isolated island and battle pirates to escape back to civilization in Friday, the next game in my A-Z game shelf play-through.

Basic Info: Friday
Players: 1
Time: 25 Minutes
Designer: Friedemann Friese
Artist: Harald Lieske, Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Friday is a solo deck-building/deck-destroying game where you take on the role of Robinson Crusoe’s companion, Friday, who is attempting to teach a clueless Crusoe to survive the hazards of the island and ultimately to attack pirates in order to return to civilization.

The game is set up with Crusoe’s deck of starting cards (many of which will not help you…Crusoe is fairly clueless at the beginning of the game), a deck of hazards, aging cards, level tracker cards set to green, two randomly chosen pirates, and 20 life point tokens (with two in reserve).

On each turn, you will pull two cards from the hazard deck and choose one to attempt. To do this, you look at the “hazard” side of the card (the other side will become part of your Crusoe deck if you overcome the hazard). It tells how many cards you get to pull from the deck for free in the lower left corner and the number of fighting points you need to overcome the challenge on the right side of the card (there are three values, corresponding to the phase of the game – they get harder as the phases advance).

If you aren’t able to get enough fighting points with the allotted cards, you have the option of spending life points to pull additional cards – one life point per card. If you are successful at overcoming the obstacle, the card is added to to your deck. However, if you are not able to overcome it, you will lose life points equal to the difference between the strength of the hazard and the fighting points you were able to accumulate.

As a consolation for losing the fight, though, you can permanently ditch cards that you used in the fight by using those life points you lost. The base cards are ditched one-for-one for those life points; however, aging cards (which I’ll mention in a moment) require two life points.

Each time you get through your Crusoe deck, you have to add an aging card before shuffling the deck. These cards add bad things to your deck – negative fighting points and worse!

Each time you get the bottom of the hazard deck, the phase increases – from green to yellow to red. At the end of the third time through the hazard deck, you must now face off with the pirates. These work pretty much the same as the main hazards with a set number of cards you can pull and a fight score you need to beat. There might be other stipulations on the card – for example, one of the pirates I defeated required me to pay two life points instead of one for each additional card I needed to draw.

If you don’t have any life points when you need to spend some, you lose the game. Otherwise, if you beat both pirates, you win!

I picked this game up a few years ago when one of the sales people at our friendly local game store recommended it as a fun solo game. He was actually recommending it to my aunt at the time, and I ended up picking it up a few weeks later.

I think this may have been the first deck building game I owned, and I’ve since really gotten into deck builders (Dominion, Clank, and others), so this game really speaks to me.

I like planning out which hazards I’m going to purposely fail in order to thin out some of the worst cards in my deck, while keeping a close eye on my life points. There is also a strong incentive to do some of the harder hazards early, since they’ll get even harder in the final (red) phase.

I also like (and hate!) the aging cards – you never know which one is being added to your deck as you shuffle it in, and it’s always a terrible surprise when it comes up in a fight. Then you have to decide if you’re going to purposefully lose that fight just to get it out of your deck. But maybe that hazard has an awesome ability you want…or maybe you’re already very low on life points. In any case, it’s never fun for those to come up.

How is it as a 2-player solo game?  Clearly I can’t answer my usual 2-player question – this is a solo game! It plays great as a solo game, though. In this one, though, you are playing against the game itself – somewhat like a good co-op games, but solo.

How about the art and component quality? I really like the art in this one – the various hazards have different illustrations (though they are repeated) and the different illustrations of Crusoe usually give me a laugh (especially the “Stupid” one).

I especially like all of the icons and reminders printed on each of the game boards included in the box. The board for the Crusoe deck shows that you need to add an aging card each time you get to the bottom of it; the board for the hazard deck shows that you need to advance the phase when you reach the end of that deck. There is even a quick reference sheet for the various cards, setup and game play.

Will this stay in my collection?  Absolutely – this is a fun game to pull out when I want a solo game or when no one else is around and I need to get something to the table. I’ve also been known to bring it with me traveling – it’s small enough to fit in my travel bag without displacing anything else. This one is a keeper.

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