James Nathan: Finished!


Designer: Friedemann Friese
Artist: Harald Lieske
Publisher: 2F-Spiele, Stronghold Games
Players: 1
Ages: 10+
Times played: 5, purchased at Spiel 2017

My grandfather had large feet.  I have large feet.  Here are some adidas bowling shoes that I saw at a vintage store recently.  No, they didn’t fit.


I bring this up because at one point he would send me to summer camps at a relatively nearby college for computer programming classes.  Wait?  Did that follow?  Right, it was World War II, and by virtue of having too large of feet, he got out of basic training.  Hold on, that’s not the whole picture.

 Also, he could type.  It was about his mother.  His mother had made sure he knew how to type.  Alright, I think we’re in the right order now:  he couldn’t finish induction because his feet were too large for any available shoes they had on hand and while he waited for an answer to being a soldier without shoes somebody happened into the office where he was waiting in a rush to find anyone who could type and he was the only one but that position required being such and such a sergeant and he had not been through basic training but oh well here is a promotion and you can spend the war in the relative calm of Alaska playing piano and occasionally typing something.

He liked not really going to war.  That’s the story of how I became obsessed with bubble sorting.

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 10.20.15 PM

No it wasn’t. I told it in the wrong order again.

My grandfather did more than teach me how to type. He had me teach him computer things that I did not know how to do and I am fairly certain the whole thing was a ruse. I would visit each Sunday and he would have run across an article about the power of mail merging in Word Perfect 5.1 and he would want me to show him how to do it.  I was a kid and certainly did not know how to do it.  So I would skim the article and show him how to do it.  He took notes.  Then he did it.  The next week when I returned he would have typed up his notes.  On a typewriter.

Regardless and despite his obvious and gratuitous studying for an elderly man who was never going to mail merge anything, it was surely all a charade to teach me those skills so that one day I could skip basic training.

Fast forward to the waning days of me being an undergraduate student and in my last semester I sign up for an intro to computer science class.  That does not sound like a sensible thing to start at the end, but it was not my major and my interests are a mile wide.  I took it more out of curiosity and a zest for life.  

What sorting algorithms did not know is that I’m predisposed to like sorting things. My father used to buy me a lot of baseball cards because there was a time I was a kid.  I sorted them a lot.  By team.  By alphabet.  By certain stats.  By color.  It was a way I passed time when we went on a family trip.  It was a way I passed time at home.  I would tell my parents.  I wanted to share the joy and excitement of some new way it occured to me to order them.

So I was sitting in CS 125 drinking my lemonade one day when we got to an overview of sorting algorithms.  It was enrapture at first sight.  I did not know that there were systems for sorting things.  With this framework we can discuss their features and benefits and drawbacks and efficiency.

I have the most experience in bucket sorting as I used it extensively in bookstore operations over the years.  You make certain buckets: A-C, D-F, G-L, etc. Take an item from your unsorted pile and put it in the right bucket.  Repeat.  Once you are all sorted, sort each individual bucket the same way.  It’s like a fractal.

But we are here to talk about bubble sorting.  Roughly you compare adjacent unsorted items and either leave them in their order or reverse them.  Then move to the next item.  The items are unlikely to be sorted the first time through so you may need to make multiple passes.

So Friedmann made a game that is bubble sorting.


As is his wont these days you should not shuffle the cards when you open the box.  They are set up for your first game. The deck is 48 cards, 1 through 48, with the bottom card as 48, the final card.  In subsequent games, you will shuffle 1 through 47 and place 48 on the bottom to begin.

Your goal is to sort the cards.  

To accomplish this, each turn you will draw three cards into your present.  You can sort things as you would like in the present.


When you are finished with the present, those cards become your past.  You may not sort things in the past for obvious temporal reasons. You cannot remember everything in your past naturally, so when there are more than three cards in your past, move them in order one at a time to the bottom of the deck until three remain in the past.  Draw three cards into your present and repeat. Once you reach the 48 card, you drink a coffee.  If you have no coffee you have lost.


When you have the lowest card available in the present, you can move it to a score pile and draw a replacement.  This starts with the 1 card naturally and then moves to the 2 card integerally.  If you make it to 48 you win.


You will need more tools than that and so Friedemann has given you some candy.  46 of the cards have either a special ability which you can activate or provide you with additional candy. Some cards will pull things out of the past.  Some will add cards to the present. Some will move things into the future which you can also not sort for temporal reasons.  If you are able to move 3 or more consecutively numbered cards into the past you unlock bonus candy.


I did not like my first game.

I did like my second game.

I loved my third and fourth and future games.

The candy economy is tight and in your first game it is the day after halloween and everyone in the office brought in half their children’s candy and you cannot help but overindulge. Now you have spoiled your appetite for dinner and have no room for your broccoli.  Do not overextend your candy budget.

It is hard to wrap your head around how the card actions can help you in a first play.  This becomes clearer in a second play and more intuitive after that.

Solo games are a tough niche for me and not something I am drawn to.  I like the low downtime that they feature but it is simply too far down the list of things of things to do and games are more social than that for me.  I do however like to eat lunch.  I eat it at my desk and can squeeze in about two games of Finished! during lunch.

Choosing how to spend your candy is easy when your flush but the awesome kind of game stress when it is low.  There is more of a memory element here than I am good at utilizing yet as the decision to draw the next card could be easier if I knew what it was.

Things feel just within your grasp.  Two coffees to go and this stretch of cards is quite consecutive so when I find the X and the X+1 I will be ready to move up a sizeable chunk of cards. But then one of your coffees goes. You find X+1 and move it into the future to save it. But then the X does not come up. Now cards are out of order. Now you are out of candy. Next you are out of coffee. Then the X+1 ended up after that consecutive patch. Then you lost. There is a delightful sense of urgency and momentum as you feel almost sorted before you run out of coffee.

Plus you get to sort things. Eat candy. Drink coffee.  

Just writing this up makes me want to stop this and go play again.  I think I wi

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers

Joe Huber (4 plays, all of the pre-production game): While I don’t have anywhere near as good a story to associate with Finished! as James does, I certainly share his appreciation of the game.  I’m not generally a fan of solitaire games, but for a few years now a few games have been pushing to be the exception that sticks in my collection.  Friday was the first – but the rules were enough to make it not ideal, and it soon moved on.  Shephy was the next to come close to cracking through – and, in fact, it did stick in my collection for a while.  But after the app became available, I found I didn’t have the same interest in the physical game, and happily passed it along.  There’s the chance that Finished! will fade for me as well, I suppose, but I already enjoy it more – what you’re doing is simple and logical, and the actions aren’t so complex as to be difficult to spin back up to speed on – I first got to try the game in early 2016, and had no great difficulty in playing it again a year later with minimal explanation in spite of changes to the game and the graphics in-between.  I haven’t yet played the published version because I’m focusing on trying the games I haven’t tried before, but that will change soon.

Dale Y: I like the idea of solitaire games, but I tend to play the solitaire versions of multiplayer games – partly because I like to use the solo game as a way to learn or explore the decision space of the larger game, and partly because I have found few solitaire only games that have captured my attention long enough to want to keep them around.  Like Joe H, I thought that Friday was going to be a keeper, but I found the rules to be fiddly, and I did not like having to constantly look up things to clarify them.  I fully admit that the problem may have been me, and not the rules, but in any event, it wasn’t a good fit.  Finished is much cleaner, and I like the constant churn of cards where you try to gradually and continually improve the sort order of your deck.  The first few passes through, you know that you’re probably only going to get one or two cards out of the deck, and that’s really just due to the happenstance of the original shuffle.  However, as you go through the deck and you’re able to get little pockets of order, you feel a little stepwise sense of accomplishment… of course, you have to work hard not to screw it up.  Because you might have things in order now – but what if that group is broken up because your deal of three cards has sliced it in the middle?  Or what if you foolishly push cards in to the future and then this now gets things all bolluxed up?  That’s the fun part of the game.  As a warning, don’t try to play this on an airplane tray table.  You need more space than that.  You might be able to get away with it if you’re sitting next to your kid and you kind of appropriate his tray space.  But I wouldn’t recommend that with a stranger. Not even if you share your coffee and candy with him or her.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

I love it! James Nathan, Joe Huber, John P, Eric M
I like it.  Dale Y, Jennifer G,
Not for me…

This entry was posted in Essen 2017, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to James Nathan: Finished!

  1. I will counter Dale’s warning to note that I’ve played Finished! on an airplane tray several times, keeping extra candy and coffee on my lap in the box. Perhaps Dale pushes things into the future far more than I do…

  2. Pingback: Fish, Farewell, Forever | The Opinionated Gamers

Leave a Reply