- Designer: Friedemann Friese
- Publisher: 2F-Spiele, Stronghold Games
- Players: 3 – 5
- Ages: 10 and Up
- Time: 15 Minutes
- Times Played: > 20 (On Review Copy from Publisher)
Fortune is the fourth game in the Fast Forward series by Friedemann Friese. Published by 2F-Spiele and Stronghold Games, the Fast Forward games have Friedemann’s trademark green look and innovative design. The idea behind the series is that there is no rulebook. Rather, you open the box with a group of friends and start playing the game together. The game gradually adds rules and layers as you work your way through a pre-sorted deck.
I loved the Fast Forward line when it made its debut in 2017. I had the chance to play Fortune at the 2018 Gathering of Friends, then a final version post-Essen. Fortune is easily my favorite of the series: I think it is the most innovative, the most approachable, and the the most engaging. Overall, I enthusiastically recommend it.
Note: I am keeping this largely spoiler free, though the game is replayable even if you know what is coming. I’m going to describe the first game or two so you get a sense of what is going on.
Fortune comes with a pre-sorted deck of 90 cards. The game is nominally slot machine themed, and mechanically it is a set collection and hand management game with a press-your-luck aspect.
Players begin the game by drawing the topmost card of the draw deck and taking it into their hand. As they work their way through the pre-sorted deck, they’ll come across rules cards, which they read and then set into the playing area.
In general, the cards have numbers on them, plus certain text that provides for bonus points. Players can have a maximum of three cards in their hand, and if they take a fourth, they put one of them in the center of the table. From then on out, players can draw the center card instead of taking one from the deck.
Players will play until there are six cards in the center of the table, which triggers the end of the game. After the last turn, players add up their score, which consists of the card values and their bonus points.
The cards of the losing hand are put into the game box (and thus removed from future games). The cards of other players, along with extras from the deck, are shuffled and placed back on top of the deck for the next game.
As the game progresses, the cards in the deck change, becoming different for reach group. New ways of scoring — such as new systems for bonus points — and other rules changes come into play.
My thoughts on the game…
I’ve played through the Fortune deck twice, enjoying both experience. I’ve long admired Friedemann Friese for his innovative approach to game design, and his skill shines in Fortune. I think this is the best game in the Fast Forward series, and I enthusiastically recommend it.
The game really lives up to the promise that you can start playing without reading a rules booklet in advance. Once the deck is opened, you and three to five friends can be playing in just a couple of minutes, and the game is remarkably easy to learn, with the first rules cards having just a few sentences of text.
But don’t be fooled by the first few hands: Fortune shifts and becomes more interesting as you work through the deck, making delightful twists and turns and adding layers of complexity. But even as the number of rules continue to mount, the game is decidedly fast-paced, lightweight, and approachable, and I’ve enjoyed Fortune with non-gamers.
A typical game takes about 10 minutes. Some will be longer, some will be shorter. I don’t recommend just playing once: in fact, I recommend groups set aside 2-3 hours and plan on making it as far in the deck as they can. We tracked individual wins, and the game is the sort of game where you can have fun banter around the table as you play.
The production value is solid. I like the nominal slot machine theme, since many of the rule shifts seem to resemble various casino games. Production wise, the artwork and cards are both quality. The rules on the cards are clear, and my group had little difficulty in tracking the game and adjusting as it went on. 2F and Stronghold did a nice job here.
Friedemann Friese continues to be one of the most innovative game designers in the marketplace today, and Fortune is one of my favorite of his creations. With addicting and engaging gameplay that lives up to the promise of “no rulebook,” Fortune certainly impressed me.
THOUGHTS OF OTHER OPINIONATED GAMERS…
Dan Blum (2 complete plays): I want to like the Fast Forward games more than I do, since it’s a great concept. However, Fear I found rather dull and never finished. Flee I liked but because of its more puzzle-like nature playing it a second time seems unlikely to be much fun, so I don’t expect I will ever finish (we almost got to the end). Fortune is more interesting than Fear and more replayable than Flee, which is something, but ultimately it doesn’t grab me. Each individual round is extremely random – it happens far too often that a player gets dealt a hand which will just never score well (barring a rules change) and while a player gets dealt an unbeatable hand less often than that, it’s often enough to be a problem. Of course players exchange cards but generally you have very few chances to do that; with fewer players the rounds take longer so maybe it works better with two players. In any case I rarely felt as if I had much control.
I also don’t love the fact that there isn’t really a structure to the play. The rules call each round a game, but they’re not even satisfying as rounds in a game, never mind entire games. Therefore the overall experience really needs to be considered a single game. We kept track of rounds won as Chris did, which is OK but some greater structure would have helped. Fabled Fruit, the progenitor of these games, doesn’t have such a structure but each individual game of Fabled Fruit is actually a satisfying experience.
Fraser (1 complete play through): My play of this was with three players and we started late at night and kept on going until the wee hours to finish it off. It kept us engaged, changing fairly regularly. Trying to determine a hand or a game for BGStats purposes was a little confusing, is it one big game, one hand a game or a series of mini games when the rules change substantially?
It probably helps if you are fan of various card games which some of the sections are based on, e.g. Poker, Black Jack etc.
Patrick Brennan: Games where you learn the rules after you start playing are just a very special sort of aggravating. We start and we have no idea of what we’re doing. Then, let’s stop the game and read lots of text together. Where’s the fun in that? And because there can’t be *too* many rules for this type of schling, the game-play is over-simplistic, boring, and luck-laden. We gave up after 15 minutes, completely non-caring about where the game might evolve to.
Simon Neale: Having really enjoyed the Fortress game in this series with my family, I was keen to pick this game up at last year’s Essen Spiel and I’m really glad that I did. Unlike Patrick, I think that being able to start a game without any prep or rules preamble works well and especially with the family.
After the first few hands, Fortune develops rapidly into an interesting and evolving game which has had a lot of plays. A great addition to the Fast Forward series of games.
Joe Huber (86 plays / 5 times through the deck on a review copy): Unlike Patrick, for me the idea of reading lots of rules together works very well; it’s how I most enjoy learning games regardless of their nature. I’m also quite fond of the mathy element of Fortune, as compared to other games in the series. But – I wish there were more to it; in particular, I’d prefer each “play” be longer, allowing for longer plans to be played out. As it stands, while I’ve enjoyed the game – and would still happily play if others wished to – I’m done with it. Not a bad result, but I’m still waiting for a game of this nature that doesn’t wear out for me.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it! Chris Wray, Simon Neale
- I like it. Fraser, Joe H.
- Neutral. Dan Blum, James Nathan
- Not for me… Patrick Brennan