A Review of Faza

Faza

Designed by Benjamin Farahmand

Illustrated by: Scott Chantler

Published by TheFAZA.com

Impressions (after 5 plays) by Jonathan Franklin

New FAZA Box Cover
All photos in this review courtesy of the designer

As I was about to write a review of Faza, I saw a question posed on BGG, “If I like the art of Faza, is it too similar to Pandemic or Horrified to consider?” For me, this question made writing this review easier and I decided not to rehash the rules as found in a traditional review. For a rules overview, see other reviews and videos of the game. 

Faza is of the same weight as Horrified and Pandemic.  It can be played casually or with quite a bit of planning. It is a co-op with a puzzle underpinning. That said, I feel Faza is different enough to be worth consideration.  Instead of rehashing the rules, I tried to set out what I see as the major differences, which should help you figure out if it is a game for you.

Unlike other co-ops, Faza does not have single player turns. The complexity and inability to QB the Faza system is in part because everyone is playing at the same time. I am not sitting and waiting for my turn while suggesting what you do because green can play an action card, then yellow, then yellow again, then red, and then green.  Those sequences can be cool and feel like collaboration if everyone communicates. 

This game’s special powers and action selection system are fun and a bit less susceptible to an alpha player. Each color has two quite different roles with variable powers based on their four action cards. It is different from Pandemic and Horrified in that you are not using an ‘action point’ system where anyone can do anything, but one person might be able to do it a bit better.  Here, each player has fundamentally different choices to make, so if they want to attack from range, they are giving up the ability to do something else.  We found it is harder to know what everyone can and cannot do in the Faza system, which increased communication between the players.

Medicinal Deck, Action and Character Cards

Faza has a more compressed board than the other games, consisting of a modular 4×4 tile board – unlike Horrified and especially Pandemic, everyone is trying to think through the immediate challenge facing the players, rather than some of the more open aspects of one person worried about Asia while another feels Africa is a greater concern. You are all on a compressed board facing more urgent challenges. Due to the modular board, it has more a bit more variety from play to play.  The Faza board presents some turn-zero choices that players will notice immediately. Certain powers are more or less interesting depending on the layout.

New FAZA Photoshoot Image

The art style is quite different art style from classic co-ops.  Pandemic has classic Euro art which is evocative and very clean.  Horrified has somewhat campy but very nostalgia-based art.  It is still classically artistic.  Faza’s art is more like an episode of Futurama set on Mars.  I find it fun if a bit monochromatic and the art style accurately reflects the sort of game it is, as noted in the next paragraph.

It feels less like chess than Horrified and Pandemic, which could be a pro or a con. In both Pandemic and Horrified, you hit a point where it becomes a cakewalk and mop-up.  Faza’s event cards are far more variable than most other co-ops.  This can be demoralizing because your attack ended up doing no damage after all that effort, which can be infuriating.  Or the team can take it and go back to plan B.  Imagine if removing a coffin or cube from a city had a 10% chance of failure – how does that make you feel?  If you don’t like it and want a more Euro experience, I would suggest removing the more swingy cards from the event deck, but as the game is shipped, the variety of effects makes it different from most other co-ops.

Unlike the other games, Faza has player actions where dice play a role (pun intended).  It uses a standard system where a 4 or above on a six-sided die is a success, but these are modified by player powers including pip modifiers and threshold changes, much like blessed and cursed in some Fantasy Flight games.  Yes, Horrified has dice too, but they are only rolled for monster attacks.  In Horrified, the player does not roll them on their turn to determine their success or failure.

Faza’s enemies are more programmed than in other games.  In Faza, when it is the aliens’ turn, you follow the steps on the cards.  Each one of the three different motherships has two routines, one for if the mothership is active and one for if it has been destroyed. Like some other games, as you destroy the motherships, they have stronger negative effects, which keeps the game tense. What Faza lacks in ‘oh, please please don’t let it be Beijing’, it makes up for in the ability to plan for what is to come and try to counteract it to some extent.

FAZA Destroyer Ship

Faza’s enemies are more programmed than in other games.  In Faza, when it is the turn for the aliens, you follow the steps on the cards.  Each one of the three different motherships has two routines, one for if the mothership is active and one for if it has been destroyed. Like some other games, as you destroy the motherships, they have stronger negative effects, which keeps the game tense. What Faza lacks in ‘oh, please please don’t let it be Beijing’, it makes up for in the ability to plan for what is to come and try to counteract it to some extent.

It does have variable difficulty, which comes in the strength of the mothership sequences, motherships that take more hits to down, and the removal so some of the more beneficial cards in the event deck.  While these are not as transformative as the changes in Horrified, they are similar to the difficulty changes in Pandemic.

I hope this review gave you enough of a sense for Faza to decide if it is right for you.

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! 
  • I like it.  – Jonathan (about the same as Pandemic and Horrified)
  • Neutral. 
  • Not for me… 

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