Friday: A Solo Adventure Review

Friday, one of the best solo games, in play

So, I normally don't play solo games. Because I have so many friends? In my mind the answer is yes, but in reality it's probably because the part of board gaming that I enjoy is the social aspect. Yet, when some reliable sources (other blogs I read) highly recommended Friday (and when I realized it is really cheap), I decided to give it a try.

In the game Friday, you are on a deserted island - and you love it! Unfortunately for you, the infuriating Robinson has crashed on your island. So, you decide to teach him how to survive (not because you're nice, mind you, but because you really want him to gain the survival skills needed to leave the island by defeating pirates). Let's face it - Robinson was a bit of a wimp when he landed (and not very smart either). So, you go through teaching him the basics of survival. In terms of gameplay, you start with a basic deck of cards - Robinson's initial skills (as pitiful as they are). There is also a hazard deck, and each turn you draw two cards from the hazard deck and choose one of them to resolve. The hazard will give a certain number of cards that you can play for free, and any additional cards will cost you a life to play. If you have enough points to defeat the hazard, then it goes into your deck (it has two images on it - one representing the hazard and one representing what Robinson learns by defeating it). If you lose the hazard, you lose life equal to the difference - but when losing life, you can also trash cards that you played based on how much life you lose (which can let you get rid of cards that are -1 strength). Unfortunately, you don't live in a time-warp where Robinson can do this forever. He is getting older. This is represented by having an "aging" (bad) card added to your deck each time you have to reshuffle it. You will go through the hazard deck three times (with it getting progressively harder), and then if Robinson is still alive, he fights two pirates. If you win this, Robinson has left the island, and you are left in peace!! (Otherwise, he died while fighting the pirates - so either way, you win, because he's leaving you alone.)

Friday game card
Cards are dual use
The first thing that I like about Friday is how the deck building element of the game works. I like just how bad your deck is when you start the game (mostly 0 and -1 point cards). Yet, I like the fact that you can purposely lose hazards in order to sacrifice some of these cards. I also love the fact that Friday prevents you from doing a fairly standard deck building strategy of trashing most of your deck to only leave the best cards because, if your deck becomes too small, you will get aging cards very quickly. Yet, even with the aging cards, there are hazard cards that (once defeated) you can put in your deck that allow you to discard (or redraw) a drawn aging card. All of these things fit together beautifully.

The second thing that I like about Friday is that it is incredibly challenging - and that there are different difficulties in which you can play the game. Specifically, there are four different difficulties, and they change what the initial cards and lifepoints are. It amazes me how tightly balanced this game is, because a very slight adjustment to the starting conditions can make the game drastically more difficult. The first time I played was on Level 1 (since I was learning). I scraped out a victory with about one life left. So, I began trying Level 2 (which means that I start with an aging card in my deck). I played Level 2 about 5-10 times in a row, and I never won; I didn't even come especially close to winning.  I went back to Level 1 - won again, this time by more than I did the first time. I think that these different difficulties make Friday have a lot more replayability than I expected from a solo game.

pirates from Friday: A Solo Adventure
You must defeat two pirates to win
The final pro that I will mention about Friday is that I like how the hazard deck works. Since you will go through the hazard deck three times, a lot of the strategy of the game lies in which cards you choose to encounter at various points throughout the game. If you choose to encounter all of the small hazard cards early in the game, then you will be more likely to lose many of the hazards - but if you win, you will have better cards for challenging the hazard deck the second time through. If you choose to take on the easier cards, then you're more likely to win, but you won't have very good cards for challenging the more difficult hazards - which only get stronger the second and third times through the deck. This aspect of the game is another area in which I think that the game is masterfully balanced.

The only real thing that I can come up with as a con for Friday is very nit-picky. When playing the game, since the hazard cards are two sided, it can occasionally be a bit confusing to remember which card you are challenging at any given time. You are told to put the "free" cards on one side of the hazard and the cards that you sacrificed life for on the other side. However, when you actually look at that, it often looks like you just played one of your cards upside down, so it takes a second to register what exactly is going on.

Overall, I give Friday a 9.5/10. I originally was thinking 8, decided that 8.5 was more appropriate, and really just kept talking myself up from there. When I struggle to find a con with a game, that means that the game really probably deserves a 9.5. I recommend that everyone try Friday at some point or another, and if you're like me and both love board games and periodically travel for work, I think that Friday is crucial for your gaming collection.

If you like games where you are playing against the game itself, you might also want to check out Nemo's War, Defenders of the Realm, and Lord of the Rings: the Card Game.


  1. Thanks for reviewing a 1-player! I am always looking for good ones as I cannot always get a group together to game.

  2. Indeed, this looks quite interesting. Thanks for the review.

  3. Nice review. I may pick this up...

  4. I just picked it up today and played five games in a row before deciding to go to bed about four games later than I planned. Way more fun then I had even hoped!

  5. Yeah, Don - that's basically what I experienced, too!

  6. Great. Thanks for the review. I think I will buy it now.

  7. Thanks to Josh I got this game and started playing it on Saturday. I also found it fun and addicting, I beat it on level 1, then lost on level 2 and so on. Finally after using up several hours of my free Saturday and about an hour of my Sunday morning, I beat it on all 4 levels.

    I noticed and thought I'd comment on a couple things, one is you can tailor you strategy, slightly anyway, depending on what pirates you know are coming, that's nice because it adds a little more depth. I'd actually like to seem more elements like that where you can adjust for different stategies in different games.

    The other con-wise I picked up on is more of a general note of solo card/board games anyway, and that is the nagging feeling that you might have cheated. There were several games where I was trying to remember "did I remember to add an aging card here" and "oops, let me reset that last battle, I was on yellow not green". This is much more of a user error than the games fault but if you're prone to mistakes you can make them (as I have done). Secondly I'd like to see some expansions and additional strategies that can be employed to keep it fresh. It felt kinda like and addicting cell phone game. You want to do nothing but it for a while until your ADHD finds something else or you beat it all the way through. Then you're kinda done for a while. This isn't meant as major critisizm or to deter people from spending the few dollars it cost but rather to urge the maker to make expansions to it.