Review – Wilderness from Fryx Games
Designer – Daniel Fryxelius and Thomas Fryxelius
Art – Daniel Fryxelius
Fryx Games has supplied a review copy of this game
Last year at Essen Spiele, I spotted a hand made copy of Wilderness which was simply gorgeous. The Brothers Fryxelius told me that they had plans to produce a standard copy for Essen 2012 and so I was very pleased to be able to play a game at the Fryx Games stand and immediately picked up a copy.
To give you a flavour of the theme here is the introduction from the rules…
You have been assaulted, robbed and left to your fate with not enough clothes or equipment to manage. You are abandoned, far away from civilization and security, far from the life of welfare and comfort you had. There’s not a human being for miles, unless of course the robbers have found some other unfortunate travellers! Now you have to survive the wilderness that spreads for miles and miles in all directions and maybe…just maybe you can get back to civilization again. There’s a vague hope to hold on to: You know there is a settlement somewhere east. So go east, east and further east. Get out of the wilderness, alive!
Ok, they had me at “You have been assaulted, robbed and left to your fate”. Sounds like an adventure awaits and this is exactly the case with Wilderness.
I must be honest up front here and tell you that this was my favourite find at Essen 2012. I simply fell in love with Wilderness and have played it more since. For 2-8 players ages 13+ (actually, I think you could play this possibly with 10 year olds without much problem), the object of the game is to be the first survivor to travel across the wilderness to the village at the opposite end of the map. Simple as that. Well er… not so simple as there are many dangers, least of which is starvation.
Yes, this game has good quality art and components. The board is very pleasing to the eye and evocative of the terrain that you need to traverse. The artwork is very stylish and colourful. A real treat. The card and board quality are excellent considering this is an Indie company. I am very pleased with the whole package.
You get a number of components:
1 rule book, 8 landscape tiles, 8 landscape areas; 1 village and 7 extra terrain areas, 2 corner tiles for the gaming board (with reference sheet and compass)
8 health boards and 24 health markers, 12 wooden figures; 8 characters and 4 animals, Stickers (for the figures)
54 Event cards, 27 Weather cards (+1 time marker), 27 Sickness cards, 2 dice, 8 player markers
As I mentioned earlier, the players are racing across the wilderness, trying to be the first to make it to the village alive.
The key aspect of the set up is that you have limited terrain knowledge. You will only know the terrain on the starting terrain board as the rest are unseen and only turned over when they are entered. This makes for loads of replayability as each game will be different. The uncertainty turns up the pressure on the players.
The players keep track of hunger, thirst and exhaustion on their health board.
During a round each player has action points that can be used as they see fit to move, drink water, search for food, sleep or rest. Movement cost is subject to how difficult the terrain is. You may also encounter dangerous animals and/or natives who may be unfriendly. You have to make your choices and as the game goes on, and your exhaustion increases, you become more limited in terms of action points, which then limits your choices of actions. Its pretty tough and you start to feel that you are living on borrowed time. Nice.
Thirst: Your thirst is increased during each of Nature’s turns. Your thirst can also be increased by moving into desert in daylight or by Event cards. To reduce your thirst you need to drink.
Hunger: Hunger will cause you to be more exhausted. Hunger is also increased during Nature’s turn and can be affected by Event cards. To reduce your hunger you need to search for food.
When all players have made their turns there is an extra turn called Nature’s turn.
Exhaustion: When you become more exhausted your energy will decrease before you die. A thirsty or hungry player will get tired much faster than a player that is not.
You will need to try to improve your health on your turn, while during Nature’s turn it will get worse. After Nature’s turn a new round starts. Every round represents 4 hours in real life, so that 6 rounds is a full 24 hour day. You keep track on each day on a Weather card.
I will mention the Event cards. These cards are really interesting and keep the game interesting. Each Event card has two options, the first option is a good effect that will help you, the second option underneath is a negative effect that you can play to hinder your opponents. So there is the opportunity for player interaction. Of course, once you do this, the other player(s) may turn on you too so there is risk involved. When you play the cards you may only use one of the effects on it. So if you choose the negative effect for an opponent you will lose the good effect that you could have had and vice versa. Event cards may be played at any time if it is not specified otherwise on the card itself. If you play with children, you may just want to use the top event wording rather than the “stick it to your neighbor” text. Its up to you.
A very nice feature is that you can have a short game for an hour with 4 terrain boards or a longer game with more terrain boards. I think that the 4 board length is just right myself.
What do I think overall?
I really like Wilderness and recommend it highly. It plays smoothly and isn’t too taxing on the brain so it can be used as an entry game for new gamers. It is a good family game with children age 10+ I think. The rules are straightforward with just enough depth for me. Its not overly detailed with too many choices, yet there is enough to challenge you. The replayability is huge. It is a competitive game which allows for aggression if you want to take that approach but you don’t have to.
A lot of thought has gone into the design and good attention in the presentation as the terrain is artistically clear and appealing to the eye. The components are of a high standard. It won’t take you too long to get up and playing although there is a bit of down time to set up, though not a lot. The replayability is a strong plus to this game. No two games will be the same as there are plenty of variables.
A warning: There can be player elimination if you press your luck too much but it is unlikely if you balance your choices and decisions as to how and when you play it conservative and when you push yourself. You can choose when you play nice, and when you stick it to the other players. And its a race of survival. Of course some players may not survive. Also, there are a good mix of meaningful decisions to make but you shouldn’t get bogged down by analysis paralysis. This game is played for fun, not to make your head explode. Excellent!
There is a fair amount of luck but this is tempered by your choice as to how you use your action points. I would say that there is a nice balance. To be honest, you would need a lot of luck to survive in a situation like this and the luck element, to me, adds to the fun.
Absolutely, my type of game. If you like light-medium complexity and good thematic adventure and if the thought of a race game with survival being key interests you, you will really enjoy Wilderness.
For more information go to – http://www.fryxgames.se/