Designer: Friedemann Friese
Publisher: Rio Grande Games (2011)
The anticipation is killing you. Arriving to the venue early, you grab a $10 beer and snatch a prime position in the pit not far from the stage. The agony of having to endure the opening act performed by a band no one’s ever heard of leaves you groaning – and then magic fucking happens. The small unknown outfit of young shredders shoot fire from their dicks and lightning bolts from their eyes and by the time the main attraction comes out, the beloved band you paid to see, you’re already mentally exhausted and spent from the 45 minute aural jackhammer which took you by complete surprise. That band whose name you have tattooed across your upper ass cheek can’t possibly top what’s already happened.
Friday is that young group of musicians who come out of goddamn nowhere and kick you in the groin. This isn’t the type of game you build an online order around, rather, it’s a filler to throw in to meet the $100 free shipping threshold. Then when it arrives and you actually break the little bastard out, you are floored and quickly discard the other $85 of cardboard deadweight and find yourself absolutely enamored with this little beaut.
A small amount of components yet a large amount of game.
This is a solitaire deck-builder with somewhat bland cartoonish artwork and a mellow theme that someone who places Earth Reborn as their number 1 game would probably never enjoy. Yet, I’ve played this game dozens and dozens of times and don’t see that ending anytime soon. The basic structure of the game is that you start with a weak deck of Robinson cards that boast low strength values. You flip two Hazard cards and choose one to fight, which instructs you how many cards to flip over from your deck. You may then pay Life points to flip over additional cards as the goal is to have a total strength equal to or greater than the Hazard difficulty on the card. If you beat the Hazard you add it to your deck and may draw it later, in which case you use the bottom half of the card which possesses a Strength and Ability such as acquiring more Health tokens or drawing more cards.
A Hazard/Knowledge card with the Hazard on the bottom half and the gained Ability on the top.
The goal is to build a stellar deck with high strength cards and wicked abilities. After running through the Hazard deck three times, you face two Pirate cards which are very demanding and cause brow-furrowing tension. The ingenious of the design is a very welcoming simplicity with astounding depth. Key decision points include choosing which of the two Hazards you face (which can set the tempo of your deck), agonizing over decisions of when to spend Health tokens to draw, and deciding which cards to cull (“trash” for you Dominion fanatics). You have to pay Health in order to remove cards from your deck but there’s a delicate balancing act, as you cannot rely on the standard small fine-tuned deck strategy prominent in your Grandfather’s deckbuilders. See, every time you re-shuffle your deck you gain an Aging card, which is has a negative effect when revealed. Aging cards can be absolutely brutal and get more severe as the game progresses.
This is an absolutely fantastic game that offers a brutal challenge by kicking you in the teeth and then picking you back up. It’s a constant war of balance as you acquire cards, throw out cards, and try to set the tempo while the game keeps fucking with your engine. If you don’t achieve a delicate balance before the timer runs down, you will find yourself below deck on the Pirate’s ship employed as the new peg boy. This sense of brutality has me licking my lips and ready to return every single time.
The brutal Pirate cards.
Friday is a great solo game that performs at an exceptional level for being so ridiculously cheap. It is one of those games that pulls you back in and has you craving just one more game so that you can experiment with a new strategy and get ever closer to beating the bloody Pirates. With a scaling difficulty and wide myriad of card effects and encounters, this one will have you engaged for an exorbitant amount of plays. Still waiting for Z-Man’s paddle boat from China to get here with Robinson Crusoe so that you can fight over one of the 15 copies with a fellow gamer? Screw that, pick up Friday in the meantime for a little over a ten spot and fill that hole in your life that’s been missing since you were an adolescent.