- Designer: Jurgen P.K. Grunau
- Publisher: HABA
- Players: 1-4
- Age: 7+
- Time: 15-20 minutes
- Times played: 3, with review copy provided by HABA USA
5er Finden is HABA’s most recent foray into the roll and write genre. In this game, each player gets a board with a 10×10 grid of 6 different colored squares. There are 12 polyominoes that are placed in the center of the table; these represent the 12 different possible shapes that can be made with 5 squares. They are valued from 1 to 4 points – this is printed on the polyomino itself.
In each of the five rounds in the game, someone rolls the 5 dice. A re-roll must happen if there are 3 or more of the same die face showing. Once there is a valid roll, all players start examining their board for FIVES – that is a polyomino shape made of exactly five blocks that matches the die roll exactly.
There are a few rules to observe in this phase
- You can only outline 5 FIVES
- You can only use each possible shape once per round
- You can use a rotated or mirror image of any of the FIVES shapes
- An individual block can only be part of one FIVES shape, i.e. your FIVES cannot overlap
- The outline around a FIVE must be complete in order to be scored
Whenever any player feels they are done, they take the timer from the center of the table, flip it over and place it in front of their board. That player is no longer allowed to make any changes to their board. When the sand runs out, they call out the end of the round, and all players must immediately stop writing, and the round moves into the scoring phase.
When scoring, you score the value of your valid outlined FIVES shapes (as shown on the tiles on the table). If you have outlined more than 5 FIVES, you only score your lowest 5 FIVES. If you have used the same shape more than once, all instances of that shape are denied. You score one point if you are the player who flipped over the timer. The boards are erased and the next round is prepared.
The game continues for five rounds. There is a small difference in the fifth round in that all shapes are worth double their normal value (you still only score one point for flipping over the timer). The player with the most points wins!
There is also a puzzle version of the game, meant for more seasoned gamers. There is a special puzzle board which is placed in the center of the table. Each player sits so that a quadrant of the puzzle board faces them, and each player therefore has a set of the 12 polyominoes. The puzzle game is played over 12 rounds. In each round, the dice are rolled, and each player only marks off one FIVES shape (and also crosses it off on their area of the puzzle board). Additionally, you do not erase your board between rounds, so that you will at most use each shape once during the game.
The first player to find their FIVE for the round can flip over the timer; they should also mark this on the row of timer spaces on their board area. If you are unable to find a FIVE before the timer runs out, you then choose any available FIVE on your part of the puzzle board, and you also outline and crosshatch the shape on your board – the colors do not need to match the dice roll at this point.
The game continues until the end of the 12th round, or at the end of any round when no player was able to make a legal FIVE shape. The players then calculate their scores by summing up the points of their valid FIVES as well as one point for each timer space filled in.
My thoughts on the game
5er Finden was one of my big disappointments of SPIEL 2019. Not because the game was disappointing, but because this was the one game I was sad to not come home with. I had heard a lot of good things about it, and it was on my list of games to fit into my luggage Saturday evening (if I had space), but as things often happen on that last day at SPIEL – things go forgotten and there is sadness. I saw that a few of my online friends enjoyed the game, and as I was considering ordering the game from an online shop, the coronavirus restrictions made it exorbitantly expensive to ship such a small game. Thus, I was quite happy to hear that HABA USA had decided to bring the game to the US!
I have found that I enjoy these simpler roll-and-writes, and this genre has become my go-to for introducing games to newbies. The basic version of the game puts a bit more premium on speediness – though most people should get enough time to at least find a few FIVES each round. The puzzle version adds in a bit of strategy as the restriction to using each shape only once each game makes for some difficult decisions. There have been plenty of times when I found a FIVE quickly but then decided to look around for a bit trying to find a different shape that either scores better or occupies a more strategic spot on my board.
Thus far, I find that the puzzle version better suits my style. I like the longitudinal strategy of not only looking for a FIVE each round but also worrying about where it fits on my board and how it affects future FIVES placements. Also, there is an added bit of skill in knowing (or thinking that you know) which combinations are impossible to find. If the die roll comes up a combination that you don’t think that you can make, you can quickly snatch up the timer thus guaranteeing yourself one point for the round as well as severely lessening the amount of time other players have to find a FIVE (or perhaps rush them into choosing a suboptimal FIVE).
The basic version works just fine, but it does seem to reward those players who are just better at seeing the combinations on their board. Of course, it helps to still be able to find the more valuable shapes – but it’s amazing how the time pressure of knowing the timer is counting down can cause my brain to freeze up!
Regardless of the version of the game that you play, the game plays quickly and provides an enjoyable puzzling experience. After our first game, we’ve chosen to play on the side of the board which gives each player a different layout. Not that we intentionally try to look around the table when searching for FIVES, but sometimes you look around for the timer and then you glance at someone else’s board and you get an unintentional hint of where you should be looking. There is no possibility of this with the unique boards.
5er Finden fits a nice space in my roll-and-write arsenal. It gives a nice puzzle challenge, and it has two versions that will work well with any sort of group that I happen to be with. While I thought that I might be getting burnt out on the XXX-and-write scene, this game appears to have given a breath of fresh air into the collection.
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers
Dan Blum (1 play): I enjoyed my one play of the standard game and I may well pick up a copy, despite the fact that I already have too many roll-and-writes on the shelves; it has a sufficiently different feel from most others. I was somewhat bemused by HABA’s decision to keep the German title for the US release, but hopefully it will work for them. (I would have called it “Five for Finding” but no one asked me.)
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y, Mark Jackson, Dan Blum
- Neutral. John P, James Nathan
- Not for me…