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The finest filler

Years ago, when I accidentally discovered playing board games solitaire could be fun, I bought Friday. It was cheap, translated to Dutch and available everywhere. I did not really like it. I played some more. Then I hated it.

I had never played a deck building game before. I had no idea what to do. It had four difficulty levels and I kept losing on level 1. Of course those losses did not take very long, and I was determined to figure out how to play. So I fought on. Loss after loss after loss after loss. Over twenty times. I was like this:

And then I won. And something clicked. And not even ten sessions later, I was playing on difficulty level 3. And I was having fun. And I kept playing it until this day. My daughter documented the changes over the years:

I've looked for other "filler games" through the years. I must have bought over 30 of them. But I always come back to Friday. No other game comes close.

It is a fun theme. You are Friday. You try to get Robinson off your island. His starting deck has cards with values from -1 to 2. Every turn you draw two threat cards (with higher numbers, or special abilities) from the market and pick one to try to acquire. So he can get stronger. Then you start playing his cards. If the value is too low, you've got two options: let him lose a health token and draw another card from his deck and try again to acquire that new card. Or lose health tokens to get rid of the lousy card he just played and give up on that new card.

Every time you've run through his deck like this, and hopefully improved it, an "aging card" is shuffled in. Aging is not good for Robinson. The aging cards may cause him to lose a life, count as -2 or worse etc. So you'll want to get rid of them.

Every time you've run through the market, you'll run through that deck again. Except now all cards are more expensive. After three rounds through the market, if Robinson survived, two pirate ships will visit the island. They have a very high value to beat. You're going to need all the special cards you've bought. Then if he's strong enough to beat the pirates, you've finally won. Robinson leaves. You sit down and count your victory points.

Some people can consistently win the game on the highest level. I'm not there yet. I'm just one of those monkeys tapping away on a keyboard hoping the complete works of Shakespeare will appear one day. Well, I've figured out some strategies. Thankfully. As I'm close to 100 plays since the day I reached level 3. I've played on difficulty level 4 the last three years, "the real game" as it is called in the rule book. I manage to win nearly half of my sessions. Like today.

A very decent 104 points

Some cards you can acquire are very powerful. Draw two cards, destroy a card are obvious choices. But there are no bad cards. You just need to work towards a finely honed deck. And know your deck. And know when the cards you have left may be useful. You're making tactical choices all the time.

I am glad Friday has several difficulty levels. If it had just started with "the real game" of difficulty level 4, I would have given up. Now I could grow into it and start feeling smarter once it clicked. Playing this game made me better at other deck builders as well. The game looks horrible, but I've become so attached to it that I love the drawings now. And the overdose of green.

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