Wednesday, November 09, 2005

#36: Fresh Fish

Plenary Games didn't last long - but they did manage to bring back into print 2F's head-warping game of production & supply. Once you wrap your brain around the rules for road placement , Fresh Fish offers compelling game play & moments of complete surprise as the chain reaction of your actions begin to unfold.

Joe Huber: "One of the most clever designs ever, and in an extremely playable game to boot."

Chris LaRue: "This is always new and shocking to me."

Andrea Meyer: "Friedemann's best design ever. Clever, outwitting, and I love to play it anytime, especially against Friedemann himself. The rules are easily explained but yet it's such a brain-burner as it is so hard to SEE what's going on."

Henning Kropke: "The best tile-placing game and the start of my friendship with Friedemann."

Joe Rushanan: "Puzzle coupled with auctions and a dash of evil to others."

John Palagyi: "A game that makes my brain hurt, but the good kind of hurt."

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4 Comments:

Anonymous josh miller said...

As much as I love Fresh Fish, I think it will always be a game that appeals to a small cadre of gamers.

First, there are the rules. The original English rules were a mess, and I'm not sure whether the blame lies with Friese or with a bad translation. The Plenary rules are even worse, riddled with errors and inexplicable departures from the original game. Even a rule as basic as where you are allowed to play a cube is mangled badly in the new version. You can play a cube next to another undeveloped cube or next to a street. Pretty simple. But the Plenary rules substitute "develped plot" for "street," which is of course completely different and makes no sense. The expropriation rules are also horribly written and incomplete in both editions.

Once you suss out the correct rules, you can still go astray. Fresh Fish is quite peculiar in that one of the greatest challenges presented to players is simply to follow the instructions. The expropriations can be hard to see, and players need to be vigilant in applying them as they appear, or the game will fall apart.

Finally, the strategies are not in the least intuitive, and players may feel like they're in a haze - especially if they haven't fully understood the expropriation rules.

So what I'm saying is that there are some staggering barriers to actually playing and enjoying this game. It's among my favorites, but I can see why it doesn't rate better on a broader scale (as evidenced by its dramatically lower ranking on Boardgamegeek).

9:18 AM  
Blogger huzonfirst said...

When you look up "brain melt" in the dictionary, there's a picture of Fresh Fish. Insanely innovative design and very challenging to play, but not for the faint of heart.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent points, Josh.

Note that I believe the Plenary rules _intended_ to make only ONE change (which was in the auction bidding and is noted as a change) and all the other changes were just mistakes/misunderstandings so always go by the original 2F rules. The one intended rule change I ALSO think was a very bad change and would never play with.

-Aaron Fuegi

1:19 PM  
Anonymous josh miller said...

Aaron, yes, that's my impression as well. The bidding tiebreaker was intentionally changed, and the others were errors. If I recall correctly, even the bidding tiebreaker began as an unintentional variation from the original rules, but the publisher decided that she liked it and kept it in the rules. Like you, I don't see the merit in the change.

3:43 PM  

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