It’s our favorite day of the week, as well as a superb solo island adventure.
Your isle was so quiet until Robinson Crusoe showed up; rumbling and crashing about. You want him gone, but he’s coco-nuts!
You can’t blame the guy, he just suffered his ship crashing offshore. As time ticks by, you’ll be building up his stamina, intelligence, and island macho so he can navigate to new waters, and leave you in peace once more.
Brief Overview of Friday
Friday is a single-player-only board game with a castaway twist. As you’re busy relaxing on your island, free from humankind and taxes, suddenly your peace is disrupted. You run to the shores to find someone has run their ship aground, and it’s badly damaged.
Out of the sea emerges a soaking wet and sandy man, you come to know as Robinson. Unfortunately for you, if you want your tranquility back, you’ll need to help him escape the island.
An island dweller doesn’t pack heavy, so you can expect the hand-sized board game to include:
- 72 playing cards, consisting of:
- 3 Phase cards- green, yellow, and red
- 18 Robinson cards
- 11 Aging cards (8 normal, 3 difficult)
- 30 Hazard cards
- 10 Pirate cards
- 22 Life point tokens
- 3 Storage boards
- Instruction book / Quick guide
Once again, I’d like to mention the compact design of this game. It can fit in a carry-on easily and that’s a serious pro. Think of all the places you could play a solo board game to kill time while traveling.
The size is 8 x 8 x 2 inches, weighing 10 ounces. You can expect to play around 30 minutes, depending on your playing ability. This sounds like an excellent airport layover solution.
Friday impresses with component quality as well. The three storage boards are jungle-themed and cartoon-esque but fashioned from hard cardboard. The “22 life points” are small, green, pine tree-looking, wooden tokens with a gamer bag for organization. The rest of the cards come together in a sealed stack and seem durable enough. With only a few components, everything stays reasonably organized for pack-in and pack-out.
How to Play Friday
At first glance, Friday seemed like a Jumanji-themed appetizer. It has a similar wildness about it. Every card comes jam-packed with its fair share of impacts. Will Robinson be able to keep up?
For both your sake and mine, I think a list-form gaming setup made the most sense. There are not so many pieces, but the order of cards is vitally important to your survival on the island.
Step 1: Storage Boards
Start by placing the three storage boards on the table. The one with a stoplight-looking side will hold your encounter cards. The brown, tiki-hut-designed board will hold the fighting/start deck. The blue board will hold the aging cards.
Step 2: Phase Cards
Next, place your phase cards in order from green, yellow, and red, in a corner to keep you attentive to what phase you’re on. As the game plays out, your encounters will grow more difficult, causing you to move the phase card to the yellow territory. The same pattern follows with the red phase, and then, there be pirates!
Step 3: Sort Starting Deck
The encounter cards and your starting deck cards have identical card backs. Shuffle through the deck to find the cards where it is a plain fence on the front, no actions or encounters. This will compose your base deck. You can place these piles on their respective storage boards.
Step 4: Sort Aging Cards
In the aging card deck, there are 3 white aging cards and the rest are normal. You can spot this subtle difference in the fence paint on the front of the card, not to mention the harsh aging effects. Unless you want to lose in the first few actions, place the white cards on the bottom of the stack, shuffle the remaining age cards, and place them on the aging storage board.
For the first playthrough, I recommend removing the “very stupid -3” aging card. These are not my thoughts, it’s the actual card name. As you learn the ropes, you can include it later.
Step 5: Life Points
Robinson comes equipped with 20 life tokens, and 2 spent tokens. If you’re lucky, your cards might let you gain +1/+2 life points and snag these back.
Step 6: Arr Matey, it’s the Pirate Cards!
You didn’t think we forgot about the pirates, did you? Last, but not least, choose two random pirates from the pirate deck. You’ll be fighting these scurvy dogs later after the red phase; if you survive that long.
The game begins when you draw two encounter cards. You’ll see here that you have red, yellow, and green fighting costs to overpower these cards. You get to choose the one that works best for you. This is heavily dependent on the phase you’re in, and what level of fighting cards you have in your base deck.
Since Robinson washed up on your shores as a skill-less man, it takes a bit of time for him to build knowledge and level up his abilities. The white number dictates how many cards you’re able to draw from your fighting deck to rival the encounter.
GameCows Tip: There is only one 2, and two 1s in Robinson’s starting fight deck. Keep this in mind when you make your decisions on what encounter to fight against.
Challenging the Encounters
If you choose to rival an encounter card with a larger fight cost, and you fail to beat it, you can push Robinson to the challenge. For every extra fight card you draw, Robinson will lose one life point.
Losing the Encounter
You just lost the encounter. You played four cards. You went up against “wild animals,” needing 4 fight points to win. You fell short with only one fight point. Yet, it’s not the end of the world.
Four minus one equals three. You lose three life points.
Here’s the good part.
Since you lost three life points, you can choose to remove 3 out of the 4 cards you played on this encounter from the game. This is the perfect time to nix all the 0s, and -1s from your starting deck to build more consistent wins.
Winning the Encounter
You came, you fought, you conquered. Whatever you took on in this encounter, is transformed into its fighting points counterpart. You will add this card to your discard pile, and play it on the Robinson effect side when it reemerges.
You lose the game if you lose all your precious life points. You’ll have some chances sparingly throughout to gain them back, but an island is a wild place.
You win the game if you can get Robinson to sail away from the island, conquer pirates, and not die. It’s way easier said than done.
Pros & Cons
- Solo Gameplay
- Compact and Quick
Friday caught my attention instantly due to the solo aspect of the gameplay. It’s not every day that you come across your own Jumanji/Cast Away hybrid in a bite-sized box. It held my interest and made me determined to get Robinson off my island.
In my personal opinion, the biggest pro is the ability to travel with this game. It’s light enough to toss in a backpack and even fits in some purses/satchels. For those jet-setters amongst us, Friday is a mentally addictive time killer.
- Only a Solo Game
- “Survival Mode”
Friday takes the spotlight for its solo gaming power, and rightfully so. While some gamers complain that a 2-player variant would have made the cost-value ratio more on par, inventors wanted us to save Robinson alone.
A slight downfall to Friday is the repetitive nature it picks up after you’ve made the initial choices. You’re then just hammering out encounter after encounter to solidify your deck for the boss battles. I still find this phase interesting and enjoy the constant balance between the card bonuses and the numerically higher fight point cards.
Friday Review (TL;DR)
Use Friday as a fresh introduction to solo board gaming. It’s not as heavy as Mage Knight, and other solo ventures, but it stands strong nonetheless. You can expect many choices between power and logic, all mixed with a bit of a rush to get this sandy crusader off your shores.
I would highly recommend Friday for trying your luck at a solo gameplay adventure. If you’re used to playing cooperative board games, it’s a nice switch-up. If you lose, the blame is completely on you. If you conquer, the win feels even richer.
For fans of deck-building, like myself, I enjoyed all the opportunities to trash weak starting deck cards. It made the encounter losses less painful when I knew I could permanently discard the negative cards and the zeros from my hand to make room for better odds. The first encounter loss was a bit rough, but I was able to toss out the -1 fight point plaguing my hand, and it made the rest of the wins much cleaner.
If you were to ask me if I think Friday is a decent choice for your gaming shelf, the answer is a solid yes. The theme of leveling up Robinson mentally and physically, as you battle his stupidity, aging, and random events, was gratifying. Everyone should have a solo gaming experience in their arsenal, and since you can travel with Friday, you’ll be entertained everywhere!
We hope you enjoyed our Friday review! Have you tried this excellent solo board game? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.
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