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‘Friends and Foes’ - the Lord of the Rings expansion kit.
Games-night …… Freya’s Folly by Don Bone
Dicken is surprised to see Kendall accompanied by Derek only. Jamie and Roz have some extravagant excuses. Kendall suggests Carol might make a fourth player, but Dicken prefers to see her complete the cleaning of their car – after all his mother-in-law is buying it.
After some Ragnar Brothers house-keeping, tonight’s game hits the table. Kendall has read the rules in advance and so promptly asks Derek and Dicken to sort the multi-coloured components. This proves un-necessary as the set-up requires a good deal of random placing of ‘jewels’ onto spaces in the mines, which will then be grabbed by players’ dwarves. Jewels are returned to the surface and used in various combinations to create jewellery depicted on ‘Settings’ cards. A special piece of jewellery uses amber only; this is the Brisingamen of Freya.
The World Cup is mentioned by Derek and Dicken commiserates that like England, New Zealand have only managed to draw their first game. Derek doesn’t see it that way. He’s still euphoric at equalising in the third minute of extra time.
Kendall starts and sends a dwarf into the mine. One action takes it to the first lantern; a second action takes it to a small cavern where a couple of jewels are housed. These are snaffled up. Kendall looks smug.
Derek starts his two actions by taking an Ability card – the bat. His second action is used to send a dwarf into the mine.
Dicken also takes an Ability card – stamina. His dwarf also heads into the mine, but is able to jump Derek’s, taking it to a second lantern. This jumping of dwarfs is the core movement mechanic and works nicely. Only two dwarves can be jumped (unless the Ability card – stealth, is used), which means small teams have to work their way down the mine together before working their way back up again. Of course other dwarves may be going up and down at the same time, so there’s quite a lot of bumping and barging.
There is a pleasant selection of nibbles and a pot of humus is soon being dipped into periodically.
Meanwhile, Dicken is becoming irritated by Kendall’s inability to flip his dwarf counter at the appropriate time. One side (only) shows jewels and is used once a dwarf has collected from a cavern; important as a dwarf may only make one such collection (unless the Ability card – stamina, is used). The jewels themselves are too numerous to place on the dwarf counter, so these are placed in the dwarf’s barrow (on an array). Besides which an Ability marker may be already on the counter.
Fiddly? Not really. Also, the rules are brief and pleasingly specific. They even have a ‘Frequently asked questions’ section and this is immediately useful when the assembled players ask one of the Frequently asked questions. Perhaps not surprisingly some of these Frequently asked questions are asked frequently.
The Settings cards are becoming tempting. Getting the right combination of jewels can be helped by using an action to visit the Black Market for swaps. Dicken sifts through the available jewels (there aren’t that many) like a man panning for diamonds. Derek remembers that he had intended washing his hair; time can be so precious.
Bats have been loosed, strength used and the threat of a thief averted. Abilities ain’t what they used to be. No card of the Brisingamen has been assembled, yet Dicken is well on his way to completing all six pieces of jewellery he needs to end the game. Kendall and Derek urgently rush their jewel-laden dwarfs from the depths of the mine. Suddenly everything starts to happen…..
Kendall has finished his third can of John Smiths and requests more beer. Dicken obliges with a birthday bottle of Speckled Hen. Delicious, but twice the alcohol level of his previous beers!.
Kendall completes a Brisingamen card (Hurrah!). He is rewarded with five Free Action tokens. Up to three of these may be used to extend a player’s turn. If unused they will be worth points at game end. Kendall goes on a spending spree and polishes off another Brisingamen card. Derek and Dicken respond with more Setting card completions and then Dicken knocks out the third Brisingamen (such a long word to keep typing!) card.
It’s evident that Dicken can end the game next turn, but Derek’s emerging dwarfs get the job done by completing the fourth and final Brisi… (bugger it) card.
A quick points calculation reveal a tie between Derek and Kendall. The rules don’t suggest a tie-breaker, so there’s a hand-shake and forced smile. Ironically Dicken was trying to persuade Derek to NOT complete the BC, but had that happened Kendall would have won. Why Kendall sided with Derek remains a mystery.
A few jewels find their way under the table and Derek is after them like a shot. Sometimes you can take role-play a little too far.
A good game, but a little more speed in taking a Settings card (one action) and Completing a setting card (one action) would help. It might also make the 50 minute game a more realistic possibility.
It will get played again but not too often methinks, but maybe with a Ragnar tweak?
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