Stronghold Games 2F Spiele
This is another sublime example of author Friedemann Friese's brilliance when it comes to turning a simple game mechanic into a game that can be played at least 20 times without ever being the same. In its own way it is a fruity fluxx of the forest as each game uses the same basic rules and yet changes each time it is played. Unlike the game FLUXX where the cards are all put back into the box and only the start card is kept separate, in FABLED FRUITS when you end a game you have to pack the cards away carefully and with thought as they are required for the next time you play to be exactly as they were when you last played.
There are several small pieces, the five fruits as card counters, the three smoothies, the double-fruit cards and the little thieving monkey wooden animal that arrive into the game as and when the cards call for them but to start with these are pieces that are kept aside or in the box and all you need to begin with are the six sets of four location cards numbered 1 to 6 that are laid on the table in two rows of three and the deck of fruit cards of which there are five different types; Strawberry, Banana, Grapes, Pineapple and Hazlenuts.
Players begin with a hand of two cards dealt randomly and a small wooden animal in their chosen colour. There are also cut-out cards of the player pieces which are kept in front of the players so all can see which colour and animal they are.
The player going first places his wooden animal on any one of the six 4-card stacks and then takes the action written on the card or hands in the required number and type of Fruit cards, that match the necessary as depicted in the bottom half of the card; for example 3 Strawberries and a smoothie, the smoothie being any fruit, including another Strawberry if that's all that is available. Of course at the beginning of the game the players only have 2 Fruitcards and therefore need to collect more of these. They gain cards by using the actions on the card on which they have just moved on to. That last part is very important. "Just moved on to". Players must move their wooden piece to another stack at the very start of their turn, they may never remain on the same location they begin their turn on, even if they now, through other player's turns, have the requirement of Fruits to fulfil the card's order.
And there you have the basics of the mechanics; move your animal to another location and then either take the Action or "buy" the card.
When anyone buys a card from a stack a new card is taken from the huge deck of 240 location cards and placed onto the table. As there are 4 cards of each location type the next four cards removed from the deck will all have the same number and be placed on top of each other as a stack, one at a time of course. Thus as the game begins with stacks numbered 1 to 6 the next card from the deck will be the first of stack 7. This is placed to form a new stack and offers a new ability for the players to consider. The cards from the deck begin to form new stacks as each location card is bought, still keeping to the 4 cards of the same type and number per stack. As the game progresses with players buying cards the location stacks will eventually deplete and then exhaust; discarded cards are never brought back into play.
With three players the winner is the first player to collect four location cards and with four players only three locations are required. The game plays with 2-5 players. When bought, the location cards are known as Fabled Juices because the Fruit cards that you spend to purchase them with, according to the selection on the bottom of the location card, are blended to produce this smoothie. As the number of cards required to win is small, games only take 15-25 minutes, making it a good game to play regularly as a filler entertainment; just remember to pack the cards away as they ended on the table so that when you start the next game the set up will be as it was previously left.
Naturally there are times when the players wish or need to be on the same Location card as another player. When this happens there is a penalty to pay by the moving player, giving a Fruit from their hand to the player or players on the location being moved to. Other players pieces being on a location that you move to do not prevent you from carrying out the location's action or from buying the Fabled Juice. If you do not have the Fruit cards to pay any penalty you need not pay it, however you cannot move to a location where someone else's piece is carrying just the correct amount and type of Fruit required to collect the Fabled Juice because you have to pay the penalty first. There are many locations that allow you to collect cards from the deck or from other players, though generally when you steal a card from an opponent you also have to give them a card back, making you a sort of "gentleman thief" both taking and giving.
As each new location comes into play make sure you read the card carefully as it may require you to introduce a new element into the game play, such as card #8 which makes mention of the Market. The Market isn't explained on the card but it is in the Glossary booklet, in fact all the location cards are fully explained in the Glossary so do keep it to hand when you are playing.
FABLED FRUITS is a fast, fun, family style, social game that gamers will also thoroughly enjoy. It may seem a little slow and repetitive as you play the first couple of games but once you get into the swing of things it quickly becomes very addictive and thoughts of playing just one game go out the window. Playing two, three or even four games on the trot will still take only as much time as it takes to play a single regular boardgame and as FABLED FRUITS is such a good social activity time will pass happily and one game will just lead into the next.
Beautifully designed, superb illustrations, a Rules booklet and Glossary that explain the game simply so that it is easy to learn and to teach. This is one of those great games for all manner of players aged 8 and over whether they have played it before or are completely new to it. The rules are clear as you read through them but in cases where you are not quite sure how the card action works exactly there is the Glossary ready to explain it in full detail.
Everything about FABLED FRUITS is class. The complete production from box art, size and strength through to rules, the pieces, the illustrations, the mechanic and the gameplay. Even the price, around $30.00 (that's possibly around £30.00 UK) is good for the number of hours of game playing there is here. FABLED FRUIT should become a firm favourite with your gaming friends, family and group, plus it is an excellent 20 minute prelude to a longer game session when some of your players are with you early and you are waiting for others to arrive.