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Subject: Be afraid... - Pevans reviews Fear rss

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Paul Evans
United Kingdom
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I always look forward to seeing what new game Friedemann Friese has for us at Spiel. This year was a surprise: he had three new games from his imprint, 2F-Spiele, grouped under the banner of "Fast Forward" (and published in English by Stronghold Games). What they have in common is that you learn each game by playing it. Inside the small, square box is a pack of large format cards with an important message on the first card: "do not shuffle". Drawing the first card reveals the first rule and the game gets under way.

The games have a 'Legacy' element, too. As you play, the rules develop and change. Playing one game doesn't take long - I generally play several games in one session. At the end, the cards can be put away so that, the next time it's played, you start from the state the game was left in. (Alternatively, the pack can be restored to its initial state.) Of course this gives me a bit of a problem as reviewer: I can't review the complete game without spoiling the fun of discovering how it develops. Hence, this review will describe how the game starts and then give some idea (but not too much detail, I hope) of how it develops.

Number one of the series is Fear, which is a deceptively simple card game. The first rule is that players can either draw a card or play a card. Hence, players' first action will be to draw a card. This, they will find, has a number on it. Then they discover that the hand limit is three, forcing players to play a card when they have three in hand. The third rule is that if you cannot play a card without taking the total shown on the played cards above 15, you lose the game. (There has been some discussion of this rule, as the wording is not crystal clear, but I have checked that this is what was intended.) The winner is the player whose remaining cards add up to the most.

This is when you begin to see the game's subtlety: you need high cards to win, but having high cards in hand may mean you lose. As you play further, you start to see different cards: negative numbers can be very useful. And some cards have actions that take effect when they're played: reversing direction of play, for example. Thus the game gets more subtle as players try to manipulate play - as well as their hand of cards - in their favour. The final piece is that some cards go back in the box at the end of the game, while the others (not the rules cards) are shuffled and go on top of the deck for the next game. The crucial point is that this means you get further through the deck each time you play, discovering new rules and different cards.

A single game can be over in 10 minutes, which is why my group tends to play several games in a row. This also lets players start to psych each other out... I think Fear is a terrific game and another clever design from Friedemann. It makes an excellent filler, in part because you can play it for 10 minutes, half an hour or carry on until dinner time. However, it's also a subtle game that rewards continued play.

Fear is an entertaining card game (#1 in the "Fast Forward" series) designed by Friedemann Friese and published by 2F-Spiele (in German) and Stronghold Games (in English). It is for 2-5 players, aged, 8+, and a single game takes about 15 minutes to play. I give it 8/10 on my highly subjective scale and thank Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games for providing a review copy. (This review will form part of a longer piece in the January 2018 issue of "To Win Just Once".)
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