FRIEDEMANN FRIESE - COPYCAT
Published by 2F Spiele with the English version by Rio Grande Games.
COPYCAT the board game sports the picture of its designer, Friedemann Friese on its cover. You may think this is a bit smug, but in fact there isn't much else Friedemann could have put on
the cover because this is a superb amalgamataion of the best mechanics from several games, openly admitted throughout the rules book.
Friedemann has such a solid reputation in the boardgaming world that, in my opinion, any designer whose game mechanic has been borrowed here will be delighted to have it included in this game,
at least I should say that if Friedemann had used a mechanic from one of my games I would have been more than happy.
First read through of the English rules was a little confusing, leaving us to wonder if there have been some translation discrepancies, but playing with regular games players it wasn't too hard to figure it
out and once we had the game flowed excellently.
On the board there are several Office Spaces shown where cards are placed, some at the beginning and then one a Turn until the 11 Turns have been played. There are also some "grill" spaces (6 in total)
on which the 4 (depending on player numbers) Doctorate cards with this symbol on their backs are placed. This is one of the discrepancies we cannot understand within the rules - why are there 6 spaces
and only 4 cards ?
When you first hear that this is a game about Office Politics it is a turn off. It was to us and therefore the game sat on the shelf waiting to be played for a fair while. In the end it had to be played because it was
in need of a Games Gazette review and so reluctantly (for the first time of playing) it was brought from the shelf to the table. As I have said, the reading of the rules also brought confusion to the table, thus making
our thoughts on having to play even more biased against it. Having played several 2F Games products I knew that this wouldn't have been published had it not been thoroughly tested first by games players of the
highest quality and therefore digging beyond the confusion was a necessity. Are we glad we opened our minds and proceeded ? You bet we are! This is a brilliant and enjoyable co-habiting of at least 3 excellent
game mechanics, the main one being the building of personal card decks by the players (as per Dominion). You need to build up a good hand of cards but not get carried away with continually adding to your deck,
otherwise you will discover (as I have done and always seem to manage to do) that there comes a time when although you have some of the best cards available in your deck they become a burden.
In turn order, and one at a time, players place their meeples into different Offices (only one worker per Office) - each of which has an advantage of some kind - plus they (the players) can play cards from their hand.
The cards are (somewhat) colour coded to easily determine which phase of play they can be played in. These cards have a picture and a title, neither of which has any bearing on the effect, plus a cost (to buy from the
conveyor belt of cards that roll along the bottom of the board) paid in virtual coinage.
Essentially this is a card game and basically this is a game about balance - you need cards in your deck that will give you virtual cash and Victory Points, along with other effects. Some of these cards can be played
immediately, others come into effect at the end of the Turn. At the end of the day though this is about getting the most VPs and there are several ways to gain VPs during play, mainly from Offices and cards. Amongst the
cards available there are someRed cards - these have virtually no use except to bulk out your hand, causing you to possibly have less options when they appear in your hand. You collect RED cards when you purchase
cards from the conveyor. If there are any RED cards to the left of the card you are buying you must also pick up these cards.
When you buy cards or use cards they are either placed first into a "clipboard" pile and then moved to the discard pile or straight to the discard pile. When you are required to draw new cards and there are not enough
in your personal draw pile you shuffle the discard pile and start a new draw pile. This way you are constantly (at your discretion) adding cards to your deck that will appear randomly into your hand - 5 cards drawn per
Turn. The player's pieces are the famed meeples for their Office Workers plus two "fingers up" pawns which are used for scoring and for showing Turn Order.
The moral of this review is, don't be put off by the cover art or the first impression made by the supposed game theme. This is less about Office Politics than it is about clever and skilful deck building. In all, a great game.