Chris Hansen, the designer of Franky's 1st Christmas, is also the man behind the must-follow blog Print and Play Games News. In my quest for festive solo PnPs, Franky was a no-brainer and I was delighted to give it a try.
The 17 page-long rulebook scared me initially, but I persisted. Thankfully the rules are easy to understand and feature many illustrations. The game consists of just 9 double-sided cards, so no complaints there. Franky is of course the monstrous creation of Dr Frankenstein: as this is his first Christmas, his monster buddies want to teach him some seasonal customs (like buying presents and singing Christmas carols). Van Helsing is on the prowl, however, so these lessons have to be given with caution.
Each monster has to be persuaded by the other monsters to teach a lesson to Franky. In gameplay terms, persuasion is effected via dice rolls. If you choose the Mummy to teach a lesson this turn, you may use the special abilities of the Banshee, the Zombie, the Witch, the Ghost, the Vampyre and Dr. Jekyll to persuade the Mummy, and some monsters are a bit more difficult to convince than others. Each success you roll on the dice moves the cube one space towards the Christmas lesson.
Dr. Jekyll may turn into Mr. Hyde if you use his abilities too often, but monsters can roll dice to turn him back to his evil self. As the game goes by, van Helsing will be moving closer and closer to Franky. Monsters may use their special attack powers to delay him but if he catches Franky, it's game over, and his first Christmas also becomes his last.
The game has a bit too much dice rolling for my liking but if monsters' abilities are put to good use, you get re-rolls and a bit of mitigation. I generally rolled high, and managed to teach Franky all about Christmas but van Helsing was a constant nuisance, breathing down Franky's neck. All in all, this is a pleasant, light-hearted game if you feel like playing something thematic this time of the year, and reminding yourself some of those Christmas lessons.