Perhaps they mean Vision? He could presumably make short work of the pirates.
This is supposed to be decision between two benefits, but seeing a "vision" sounds more like food poisoning.

Review: Friday – by Friedemann Friese

iOS, Android •

I’ve heard people mention three web-based boardgaming sites often: Brettspielwelt, Yucata, and, um, Bootyjew (that’s what I’ve always heard it called, and I am proud of myself for finding a link despite that). BSW has always sounded the strongest, but it wasn’t enough for them–now they’re coming for our mobile devices, as well. Their first foray: Friedemann Friese’s Friday, a sterling choice. It’s a well-regarded solo game with complexity just a bit above Onirim‘s, so they avoided the twin bottomless pits of development effort: AI and multiplayer, like Pitfall Harry. I looked it up–that’s actually the name of the character from Pitfall! I’m not excited about it, it just seemed like a waste of punctuation to end a sentence with “Pitfall!.”

Friday is a solo deck-builder in which you, as Friday, try to help Robinson Crusoe survive. He’s quite the liability on his own, and, each time you run through your deck, he gets a new card which handicaps him, a reflection of the depredations of age. I honestly don’t know why Friday bothers–maybe Robinson introduced him to pizza? I’ve always thought it cruel of Gene Roddenberry to have the Prime Directive forbid the broadest possible sharing of pizza [and yet the Klingons were free to spread gagh around the alpha quadrant -ed.]. Anyway, the cards in your deck provide you with points to meet various challenges, as well as simple special abilities like “double another card’s value”, “remove a card from your deck”, or “+2 life”.

There are two sort of unintuitive elements to the game: the first is that the cards which represent the challenges Robinson faces also represent the benefits gained from defeating those challenges. So, each turn, you choose one of two cards to face. Each of them defines a number of cards you can draw from your deck for free, as well as a target difficulty which escalates each time you run through the challenge deck and reshuffle the discards and failed challenges. You can spend a life point to draw an extra card, but the faster you run through your deck, the quicker you age (sort of the reverse of relativity). Sometimes it’s better to fail a challenge than keep drawing cards until you succeed.

That’s especially true because of the second unintuitive element of the game. Each time you fail a challenge, you lose life points equal to the difference between the total of your cards and the target. But this also gives you your main method of thinning the deck–as those life points depart, they effectively become a resource you can spend to remove your dross. While it can be thematically weird to see cannibals as an opportunity to become more competent at island life, or failing to overcome them as a good way to avoid being distracted or weak in the future, this structure leaves you with some marvelous decisions to make. You might, for example, choose a difficult challenge in the hopes that you’ll be able to draw lots of terrible cards, fail badly, and eliminate those cards from your deck. Certainly other deck-builders have trained us that a svelte deck is ideal for maximizing your quality cards, so that seems like a solid strategy. However, it also means you’ll be running through your deck faster, which means you’ll get more terrible aging cards. You might want to slow down, instead, because once you get through the challenge deck three times (if you live so long), you’ll face two pirate ships before you can win by escaping the island.

The hurricane season to this tropical paradise of a game is that the app feels very much like a first release, even coming from a company with an impressive history in another medium. The tutorial information is fractured and incomplete, the interface frequently laggy and inconsistent, and even the treatment of the game’s rules is unreliable. Sometimes, you can’t do stuff you aren’t allowed to do. Other times, you get a warning, and yet other times you’re free to cheat and might not even realize you’re cheating. We can hope Brettspielwelt are on the case for an update to address these issues, but they’re serious.

At this point, I wouldn’t recommend the app to anyone. Friday has the misfortune to launch during a period in which we’ve seen a raft [how’s that for thematically appropriate? -ed.] of excellent mobile card games which fill a niche similar to Friday’s, so there’s just no need to deal with its problems. I quite like the game as a solo tabletop experience, and it’s satisfyingly difficult, but the app needs more time in the fire pit. Should it patch these away, it’s a great fit for mobile and will please many a Stately Play reader.

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Notable Replies

  1. Yes, I regret buying this one for full price so far, it has all the ingredients I wanted but the dough is not fully cooked yet. Let it bake in the oven a little more and/or go on sale. I’m clearly craving pizza instead after reading this review…

  2. But I like the game. So despite some of the UI issues, I like it and am glad I bought it. I can play Friday on my iPad or iPhone. (and they are synced).

    What are some of the things you cannot do that you are allowed to? What are some of the cheats that you should be able to do?

  3. Sorry–I used a double negative there (for parallelism reasons with later sentences, but still). I was saying there was stuff the game correctly enforces your inability to do. The problem is that it creates the expectation that it’ll do that consistently, so it’s easy to assume that anything you can do is a legal move. If the game simply acted like a few virtual decks of cards, and let you enforce the rules, that would suck but be consistent. Instead, most of the rules are enforced, though in inconsistent ways, while others aren’t enforced at all.

    IIRC, you can exchange cards you’ve drawn with abilities, and you’re allowed to skip activated effects of aging cards. My understanding of the rules is that both of these shouldn’t be allowed (though I think the game does cue the exchange issue by placing some cards to the right and others to the left of the challenge, as it should).

    All of which said, I’m delighted you’re enjoying the game! I had a great time with the cardboard version, and it’s my expectations that an app will enforce rules which left me so disappointed.

  4. I don’t think there is a rule against exchanging cards that were drawn with abilities. Or I’ve been playing this wrong. Do you know where that is in the rule book? I know you can exchange cards that you have already used for their abilities. And when you exchange them, you lose their fighting points (if they had any).

    If you remove or destroy an aging card, you skip its effect (it takes effect at the end of the turn). So that is at least consisted with the rules. The game does not do a good job of animating losing health so I don’t notice if an aging card has or hasn’t affected my health at the end of the turn. I’ve not tried to use the ability of an aging card. The aging cards do work correctly for stopping and making the highest card 0.

    I don’t like the error message you get when trying to double a card you have already doubled. It says something like, illegal action… I should remember that rule; I’ve tried it several times now.

    I am impressed the way the implemented the sort 3 cards rule. You are able to choose how many cards to sort so you don’t automatically draw the last card in your Robinson stack. This would trigger a shuffling and adding an aging card, and also change the benefit of using a 1x below the stack action.

    It really need an animation to indicate that an aging card has been added to the Robinson deck. I’m not always so good at catching that.

  5. No–you’re right. It’s the “below the stack” ability which cares about being on the left.

    The loss of life aging cards don’t change color at the end, which is how the game shows a card’s ability has been used.

  6. I like the Sort 3 Cards implementation too, but am I misremembering the rulebook?

    I thought it said that you could discard one of them. Unless I’m missing it, the app doesn’t let you do that.

    I’m with you in that I’m greatly enjoying the app despite it’s UI issues (most of which I’ve figured out now)

  7. I think it works correctly if you put a left card below the stack. I don’t remember about a right card.

    It took a little figuring out, but below or above the cards there is an button/icon you can press that will cause that card to be discarded. It looks like a card coming off the top of the deck.

    It is amazing that now that I have an app that enforces (most or all) the rules, I know them better than when I had to enforce them myself. Probably because I’ve re-read the rules several times. It makes me wish I could check the rules in the middle of a game. Has anyone tried resuming a game. I thought I heard that it didn’t work.

  8. Good lord, that’s hard to see!

    Thanks for pointing it out. I never noticed it

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