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This game is inspired by the legend of the Brisingamen, an enchanting necklace owned by Freya, the Norse goddess of fertility and passion. It was said that Freya owed at least part of her reputation for irresistible beauty to the Brisingamen. According to the legend, while travelling in the land of the dwarfs, Freya, impressed by their fine craftsmanship, asked them to make a magical necklace of amber and beaten gold. The dwarfs insisted that there was not enough money in the world to pay for such a necklace so Freya struck a deal with the dwarfs in which she would trade her favours with each of the four dwarfs who delivered to her a segment of the necklace. That deal would set a path to much unhappiness, death and destruction. But that is a story for another game. This game follows the story of the creation of the Brisingamen.
You are a dwarf craftsman making fine jewelry of silver and precious gems. Use your team of dwarfs to mine jewels and set these jewels into settings of fine silver which you can sell to earn the prestige of your peers. Of course the grander the jewelry, the greater the prestige, but you have a quota to fill so you must work quickly.
If on the other hand you help to complete the Brisingamen for Freya, her favours will bring you even more prestige than the finest jewelry. Of course, the favours of a goddess are a temptation that is difficult to resist. Will you be tempted by Freya's offer and turn your hand to crafting a piece of the Brisingamen?
- 1 game board
- 5 player mats
- 80 small wooden cubes
- 30 large wooden cubes
- 30 wooden disks(+stickers)
- 65 playing cards
- 12 wooden markers
- 18 tokens
There are two dark brown (strength) and two grey (stealth) ability markers in the game. There should be one dark brown and three grey ability markers.
Average Rating: 3.5 in 1 review
I'm a very big fan of Don Bone's Sunda to Sahul, which is one of the most innovative games I've ever played - an exploration game in which players build a puzzle to create the board. So for a couple of years, I've been hoping to acquire a copy of Don's second game - Freya's Folly (Sagacity Games and FRED Distribution, 2005 - Don Bone). Freya's Folly is a game in which dwarfs are making fine jewelry for this goddess, after mining it out of a network of shafts containing jewels.
Freya's Folly isn't the groundbreaking game that Sunda was; but it is an entertaining game that I found interesting, if only because the delving into mines is quite interesting. There is a leapfrogging aspect to the movement in the game - something that gets really interesting with more players involved, and the players seem to never have enough actions to do everything they want. The theme works - I enjoyed how going deeper in the mine gave better rewards, and it's a good, solid game that takes about an hour to play.
The board shows a network of rooms, connected by tunnels, that all start from one mine shaft. Each room holds a certain number of random jewels (red, green, blue, and pink) of either small or large size, although amber (yellow) jewels are placed in specific spots around the board. The rest of the jewels go in the "black market". Three decks of cards are shuffled with eight Setting cards placed face up, three ability cards face up, and two Brisingamen cards face up. The remainder is shuffled together in specific ways to form a draw pile. Each player is given a mat of their color, which shows six numbered spaces and corresponding wheel barrows. Twelve ability markers and eighteen free action tokens are placed near the board, and each player places a dwarf disk of their color on the corresponding spaces on their mats. One player is chosen to go first, and then play proceeds clockwise.
On a player's turn, they may take two actions from the following list:
- Movement: The player may move a dwarf piece. The pieces move into the mine from the entrance and then jump from lantern to lantern (each lantern is in a hallway or room). A player may pass up to two other dwarfs when moving, so a player can leapfrog to go farther. If the dwarf ends their movement in a room, they may take all the jewels there and place them in the corresponding dwarf's wheelbarrow, as long as it is currently empty. Once the dwarf moves out of the mine, the player takes the jewels from the wheelbarrow and places them in front of the player - who now can use them to complete Settings.
- Take a Setting card: These cards show a piece of jewelry and the types and sizes of the jewels needed to complete it. A player can take any Setting card they want, which is then replaced.
- Complete a Setting or Brisingamen card: If the player has all the jewels required to complete one of their Setting cards, they may place the jewels on the card, removing one of their dwarves from the game. If a player has all the amber needed to finish one of the Brisingamen cards, they discard the amber and take the amount of free action tokens indicated on the card.
- Trade at the Black Market: The player may trade jewels at the Black Market with the ones in front of them. They may trade up to two of their own jewels - trading with a ratio of one big = two small and one small = one small.
- Take an ability card: The player may take one of the face-up ability cards, which is replaced if possible.
- Use a thief card, if they have one, to steal one large or two small jewels from another player.
The ability cards give players special abilities or actions - such as the thief card above. When a player has a dwarf enter the mine, they may use one ability card on that dwarf, using an ability marker to denote this. The abilities are:
- Bat - a dwarf may use the bat to carry two jewels directly out of the mine from any cave that they are in.
- Stamina - the dwarf may collect the jewels from two caverns before leaving the mine.
- Speed - the dwarf may make two moves as one action - this lasts until the dwarf leaves the mine.
- Stealth - the dwarf can pass up to four other dwarves when moving - lasts until the dwarf leaves the mine.
- Strength - no other dwarf may pass this dwarf - lasts for two turns After using an ability card, it is discarded.
Play continues until one player has discarded their last dwarf, or when four Brisingamen cards have been completed. At this point, players receive one point for each small jewel they do not have in a setting and two points for each large jewel. Players score points for each completed Setting card but lose points for uncompleted Settings. (For example, a pin that requires one large blue and one small pink jewel scores twelve points, if complete, but loses six points, if incomplete). If four Brisingamen cards have been completed, then unused free action tokens are worth six points; otherwise, they are worth three points each. The player who ended the game gets six points, and then the player with the most points wins the game!
Some comments on the game...
- Components: Everything tends to rattle around in the box,
although the components tend to give off a distinct "Eurogame" vibe.
There are wooden cubes and octagonal prisms of various colors,
cardboard tokens, small cards, etc. This sounds a bit mundane; but
it's all of good quality, and the board is really where the game
shines. The tunnels are clearly laid out, and the use of lanterns to
designate how far players can move is a nice aesthetic touch, while
remaining very functional. The card shuffling at the beginning is a
little convoluted, and I’m not sure why it's all completely necessary;
but the player mats make up for it. They clearly show the player
their choices for each turn, but they also allow players to keep the
jewels for each dwarf separate. The game has a bright, cheerful look
with decent artwork and a great board and will be attractive to
first-time players on looks alone.
- Rules: There are five pages of rules, in full color with
diagrams and examples. My only problem is that the rulebook is very
wide, making it fairly awkward to use during the game. The game rules
are fairly easy to understand, with only a few small quirks. First of
all, explaining the ability cards is simple; but the cards themselves
use only symbols, so new players will likely forget what each one
does. Secondly, the free action token scoring and Brisingamen cards
are a bit confusing for new players, although experienced gamers won't
have any problems. The game is at a medium level of complexity,
comparable slightly to the popular Ticket to Ride.
- Movement: The movement in the game has a "leapfrog" effect, as
players utilize other dwarves to move their miners farther down in the
tunnels. This has a direct correlation with the number of players in
a game, since more players will result in crowded shafts, allowing the
dwarves to move more quickly. In three player games, you will often
find one player using their dwarves in tandem to get down to a
particular gem stash quickly. In a five player game, a player can use
one dwarf if other players are in the same shaft. This does bring out
one minor problem, in that a foolish player can allow the player after
them to do fantastic movement if they happen to allow their dwarves to
be aligned just right. This usually only happens once; since when a
player takes advantage of it, everybody is now on the alert. I'm not
sure how the leapfrogging effect makes sense thematically; but as a
mechanic, it's quite enjoyable.
- Setting Cards: Maybe I play Ticket to Ride too much these days,
but the setting cards in Freya's Folly certainly reminded me of the
tickets in the aforementioned game. Yes, they have fewer harsh
penalties, since players lose only half the points that they could
possibly gain, but they are also quite a bit easier to complete.
There is some interaction here, because the number and types of jewels
are limited; and players are quick to grab cards that other players
need. Even more annoyingly, a player can do their best to stop
another player from completing a valuable setting by stealing a jewel,
emptying the Black Market of the type that player needs, etc. Now
it's really almost impossible to completely stop a player; but you can
slow them down, although it's often at cost to your own goals. This
keeps the game from becoming "multiplayer solitaire" and adds to the
enjoyment for me.
- Choices: The amber pieces are the only ones with preset
locations, and they are helpfully scattered across the map, making
collecting them difficult. But the rewards for the Brisingamen cards
are enormous. Not only does the player get to use the free action
tokens, which are unbelievably handy in the later stages of the game;
but these same tokens are also worth points at the end of the game,
giving them a double value. However, a player who completely
concentrates on amber will find themselves spending more time to
complete their goals, while other players may complete settings and
gain more points. The different options (Should I grab more special
powers or just run down into the mines?) provide the main meat of the
game, while also increasing replayability.
- Fun Factor: I don't want to repeat my last point, but I have to
state that the variety of choices a player has on their turn is my
main source of entertainment. I like having the option to send in a
pile of dwarves slowly - but as a team, or trying to use one dwarf to
quickly hop over the other players' dwarves to quickly get to the
lower hoards of gems. I enjoy that I can grab setting cards, special
ability cards, or simply just run and gather gems. These aren't
agonizing strategic choices, but they are enough to keep it
interesting without bogging the game down into strenuous details. The
speed of the game (about an hour) certainly helps, and it seems to
play just as well with three players as with four or five.
Freya's Folly is a game that may not have appeared on your radar, but I would recommend it as an enjoyable, solid family game. The theme of collecting gems certainly works, and the level of interaction is there, although not stifling to those who don't enjoy personal aggression. Plenty of choices, an engaging look, and fast simple game play will keep this one on my short play list. Teenagers and adults should look past the ugly cover of the box and find the excellent game within.
"Real men play board games"