I never did really play a lot of traditional card games. I am, however, familiar with games like Go Fish, War, Speed, and Rummy. Rummy is one of the oldest and most fond of traditional card games, and two game designers – Jason Pilla Cannoncro and Justin Pilla – have re-imagined the game in a whole new light. Their card game, A Fool’s Fortune, was picked up and published through Rio Grande Games, and it puts a fantastic spin on the traditional card game that’s lasted through the ages.
What’s It All About?
A Fool’s Fortune is a game of mischief, magic, mirth, and lore all portrayed in the style of Rummy. Players dive into the Book of Fate to reveal mysterious fortunes: resources, realms near and far, supernatural forces, intriguing folk, and more as they race to make sets and recruit all sorts of wondrous characters.
In the box you’ll find 77 unique cards, each with its own fantastic art. The artwork is the first thing to notice about A Fool’s Fortune, and honestly it’s one of my most favorite parts about the game. There are55 fortunes and 22 character cards. Players will take turns back and forth, trying to make sets with their fortunes and using characters to help them along the way.
In A Fool’s Fortune there are three different levels of gameplay. Each of these levels is called an Act, and each Act has its own set of rules, making for easy to hard difficulty. Through each Act characters will be able to use different abilities which will make assembling sets increasingly difficult. Regardless of which Act you’re playing the goal of the game remains pretty much the same: the first player to end their turn with 3 closed sets and a certain number of characters winPlayers take turns playing their fortunes, assembling sets as they go. Fortunes in the game come in different varieties. There are five different colors of fortunes, each with their own name:
Blue – Coastal
Green – Forest
Purple – City
Red – Desert
Grey – Mountain
Along with the colors are symbols. These symbols further differentiate the fortunes, separating them into different resources. The symbols are:
Castle – Location
Bear Claw – Nature
Masks – Folk
Diamond – Treasure
Swirls – Supernatural
In order to start a set, players will need to place at least three fortunes aligned either by color or resource in their play area. This is called an open set. Players will need to have closed sets in order to win the game, and these are made by placing five fortunes aligned either by resource or color in your play area. In addition to what’s listed above, each color of fortunes has its own wild card. This is a colored fortune with no resource printed on it that will act as whatever resource a player wishes.
To start the game, the entire deck of cards is shuffled and placed in the center of the table. Players will then take turns that are broken down into phases. In the rulebook the phases are listed as Morning, Afternoon, and Night. My only real issue with the game comes in the rulebook. It’s not as clear as it could be, and I ended up reading it multiple times before I could get anywhere with the game. Just to simplify things, here’s a breakdown of what players do on their turn:
- Restore Hand – Draw back up to three cards in hand.
- Ready Characters – Ready all characters in your play area (Known as your Crew.).
- Receive Allowance – Draw one extra card from the deck.
- Recruit Characters – Play a character from your hand to your play area.
- Use Character Abilities – Depending on the Act you’re playing, you can use different character abilities to grab fortunes, discard characters, and more.
- Play Sets – Begin, add to, reduce, or remove sets that you’ve played in your play area. You can rearrange sets however you like.
- Pay Dues – You must discard one card. Dues can be paid by discarding a fortune from your camp (play area for extra fortunes) or hand, or by discarding a character from your hand.
- Stage Cleanup – Any sets reduced to one or two cards are discarded, and any fortunes in your camp are discarded as well.
- Hand Cleanup – All cards in your hand in excess of three are discarded.
Following this breakdown, players will take turns back and forth to play different cards. A player may have no more than three characters or sets in play at one time. Recruiting characters is an essential part of the game, but in order to do this players will need to attach two fortunes to them, either matching in resource or color, as fees to pay for them. This allows the character to fetch fortunes from the faire, which is the area where fortunes are discarded to when they need to be gotten rid of. When characters fetch they can only grab fortunes matching either the color or resource of the fortunes used to pay their fees.
By using characters and special abilities players have a lot of tricks at their disposal to help them create sets and rush their way to coming out on top. Through each Act the character abilities will change, adding more strategy to the game.
Though it took a while to get the hang of, I really like A Fool’s Fortune. It’s a really fun game and I always enjoy playing it with friends. I think the rulebook could use some clarification, though you can find some tips on the game’s BoardGameGeek page. The artwork for the cards makes this game a joy to look at, and with how large the cards are it’s not easy to mix them up with other games. The cards are sturdy enough to not require sleeves, so that’s also a plus. If you’re a fan of Rummy or looking to get into a casual card game for game nights, A Fool’s Fortune is a great choice. Just make sure you go over the rules in plenty of time before everyone comes over!
Thanks to Rio Grande for providing a copy of A Fool’s Fortune for review.