Note: Solo reviews like this will likely be moved into the Solo Musings Sunday series going forward, but we couldn’t resist putting a review of Friday on a Friday!
Publisher: Rio Grande Games
Main Game Mechanisms: Deck building/Hand management
Number of Players: 1
Game Time: 25 minutes
Game Description: Inspired by Robinson Crusoe, Friday is a solitaire game where you are trying to help Robinson after he crashes on your island. You don’t want him there, so you decide to help him survive and learn until he is able to defeat the pirates and leave the island.
Friday is played over 3 rounds (each made up of repeating turns) followed by a confrontation with the pirates. Each turn you draw 2 cards from the hazard deck, choose 1 to fight and discard the other, then play cards from your deck to try and defeat the hazard. Once the hazard deck runs out, the phase is over: the hazard discards are shuffled to form a new deck and the next round begins. Be warned, the hazards become tougher with each successive round and each time your deck runs out you shuffle an aging card into it (and all the aging cards are bad).
If you manage to survive through all 3 rounds (i.e.: don’t run out of life points) you get to fight the pirates one at a time. Defeat both and you win! There are also 4 different difficulty levels to help you ramp up if you find the introductory difficulty too easy (the game considers difficulty level 4, the highest, to be the “true” game).
Review: I’ve only played the game as the introductory difficulty (level 1) and I’ve had very different results and outcomes, so it’s interesting to think that there are 3 more difficulty levels I haven’t even broached yet. Overall, though, I like the game.
Like any other deck-builder, you have to try to get the most out of your cards. A lot of the cards that start in your deck are moderately useful at best or downright harmful at worst, and some of the cards you can acquire from the hazard deck (when you beat a hazard you add it to your discard pile to be shuffled into your deck the next time it runs out) are okay at the beginning but start being inadequate when you get to rounds 2 and 3 (let alone against the pirates). As such, you’ll be trying to cycle those out while also trying to defeat and add more powerful cards to your deck.
What interests me the most about Friday is that your life total is not just the measure of when you lose but is also a resource. Each hazard card specifies a number of cards you can play from your deck for free and then to beat most hazards you’ll have to sacrifice additional life points (1 per card) to play additional cards. In addition, if you lose to a hazard, you must pay life points equal to the difference between its strength and yours, but there’s an upside to that: you can use those paid life points to remove cards from your deck. Aside from the occasional special ability, this is the main way to get rid of unwanted cards.
Adding all these things together, the game becomes a delicate balance or dance by trying to get better cards while managing your life and deck while thinking about purposefully losing against some hazards to allow you to remove bad cards. This makes the game a lot deeper than it might otherwise seem and makes it a great thinky/puzzle game.
Try, Buy, Deny: The game is pretty inexpensive ($20 or less easily) so if you are a solo gamer or just want something to play when your group isn’t available, and if you like puzzles or games that require planning and thinking, I would recommend getting Friday. It’s a neat little game.
Scott – The Solitary Meeple