Solo play: Friday

Friday is third up in my list of top solo games, and routinely comes up whenever solo board/card games are being discussed. Designed by Friedemann Friese and released by Rio Grande, Friday is a card game in which the player takes on the role of the titular character, helping Robinson Crusoe survive his time on the island. The theme is not one that has been beaten to the ground, and while the game by no means drips with theme, it makes sense and the art supporting it is goofy fun. Even if the theme does nothing for you, the gameplay shines so much that it’s easy to get lost in it.

For as small as the game is, as few card as there are, Friday is just loaded with decisions. Essentially, every turn involves pulling a hazard from the hazard deck (actually, decision number one: you pull two and choose one to take on), then pulling a series of counterattacks from your fighting deck. You get so many fighting cards for free, and then pay life points to keep drawing. Additionally, if you opt to simply lose the fight instead, you will lose life points. While the primary goal here is to obviously not run out of life, you’re also essentially building your deck for the future – defeated hazards become fighting cards, and a lost fight gives you the opportunity to get rid of poor fighting cards that you may have drawn that round. When your fighting deck runs out, you get to shuffle it anew, including the new cards you’ve gotten from defeating hazards, but you also end up throwing one aging card in with negative effects every time this happens.

The hazard deck gets cycled through three times, each time the hazards become more difficult. Assuming you’re defeating things, the deck will shrink each time. So every turn you choose between two things to fight (knowing the one you ignore will be in the hazard deck next round). Every turn you choose whether to pay life to get rid of bad cards, or grow closer to aging and potentially lose life to reduce the next round’s hazards and buff up Crusoe. After you’ve finished the third run of hazards, you have two final bosses to defeat, so you do can’t go burning through all your life points early on (though some cards will heal you). All of these decisions interact with each other to make for an incredibly rich game. It takes a bit longer, and requires a bit more space than Onirim, so I don’t necessarily get it out quite as often, but it is arguably a much deeper game. Numbers one and two on my list here are both recent releases, so it’s hard to guarantee their staying power over Friday, but even if they remain above Friday as far as my plays are concerned, it’s a tight competition. I would buy an expansion for Friday in a heartbeat.