So, what’s the deal with Friday?
Inspired by Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, you are Friday, living on a deserted island. One day, Robinson is shipwrecked and arrives on your shore, disrupting your peaceful life. Robinson is also a bit of a fool when it comes to survival – it’s your job to teach Robinson the skills he needs to survive the island and get away, letting you return to your peaceful life!
What makes Friday special?
What makes Friday stand out from many other games is that it is specifically designed for one player. Many games, especially cooperative games, have single player variations, but there are few other games that are only for one player. I wanted to highlight Friday in the cafe’s blog because it is a fun challenge for anyone to play while waiting for other players to arrive or as something to enjoy over some coffee on a quiet afternoon.
Alright, so what’s the gameplay like?
At the beginning of the game, cards are separated into three piles – the starting deck, the aging deck, and the hazard deck. Take 20 health tokens, and choose two random pirates from the pirate deck (the rest of which are returned to the box). Finally, stack the three colored phase cards with green on top, then yellow, then red. You’re now ready to go.
Your goal is to help Robinson survive the hazards of the island and grow strong and clever enough to defeat the pirates and leave the island.
Friday uses a deck building mechanism similar to Dominion or Mage Knight the Board Game in which you start with a deck of cards and throughout the game add and remove cards to make your deck better and better. Indeed, the starting deck is particularly bleak – Robinson arrives on the island a bumbling fool and the cards reflect this. Of the 18 cards in the starting deck, only 5 are actually helpful in some way – the rest simply do nothing at all for you or even actively hurt you.
Fortunately, while Robinson doesn’t have much in terms of skills, he is healthy, and learns from his failures. Each turn, draw the top two cards of the hazard deck and choose one for Robinson to face. The challenge of the hazard is determined by the phase – you start the game in the green phase and use the green numbers on the right side of the card to determine the challenge level. This is the value you need to meet or beat to defeat the challenge.
The left side of the card shows how many cards you may play for free. Play cards, one at a time, from the deck. You do not have to use all of your free cards. Once you’ve played your free cards, you may play additional cards at the cost of one life each. Some cards have special abilities on them, which may also be used now. When you decide to stop playing cards, count up the value of all the cards you played. If this is greater than or equal to the challenge level of the hazard, you flip the hazard card over and add it to your deck – Robinson has learned a new trick!
If you fail to defeat the hazard, you must pay life points equal to the difference between your total and the challenge value of the hazard. Fortunately, Robinson can also learn from his mistakes – when you fail a hazard, you may remove cards played this turn from the game. Often, especially early in the game, it is beneficial to intentionally fail hazards in order to get worthless and harmful cards out of the deck.
Whenever your Robinson deck is out of cards, add one card from the aging deck to your discarded cards and shuffle up. Aging cards are particularly harmful!
Whenever the hazard deck is out of cards, reshuffle the discarded hazard cards and increase the phase by one (green to yellow or yellow to red). If you complete the red phase, it’s time to fight the pirates! Fight the pirates just as you would any other hazard – but beware, they are not easy! If you can defeat the pirates, you win the game!
I think I get it. Who do you recommend this game to?
Anyone who enjoys the deckbuilding mechanism in other games will likely enjoy the way it is used in Friday. I’ve played a few rounds so far and I am enjoying trying to challenge myself (there are four levels of difficulty) and beat my previous high scores. If you’re interested in solo games, Friday is definitely a good one, though occasionally I felt like I didn’t have much room for interesting decisions. The rule book does a nice job of explaining how the different abilities can interact to provide many chances for clever play, but practically these opportunities didn’t present themselves as often as I had liked. That said, I’m getting ready for another go right after I post this. So the next time you come by Knight Moves ahead of your friends, grab Friday if you’ve enjoyed other solitaire or deckbuilding games in the past – it is a fun puzzle to engage with despite its inconsistencies.
Time: 15 minutes
Game Elements: deck building, risk/reward analysis, problem solving, resource management