Rollercoasters with corkscrews and loops. A giant wheel with comfortable seats and a pirate-themed restaurant with air conditioning and restrooms. All the trappings of a great theme park, wouldn't you agree? Build the theme park of your dreams. Attract as many visitors as you can to earn money and score big points. Upgrade your rides to make them bigger, better and more exciting. Do you have the skills and the imagination to create the world's best theme park? Well, now is the chance to find out. This is Funfair.
Funfair is a two to four-player card drafting, hand management, tableau-building game. It's from designer Joel Finch and published by CMON/Good Games Publishing. Players compete over six rounds to build the best theme park by building attractions. They'll also be upgrading them with the use of cards. Funfair is a reimplementation of the 2017 popular game, Unfair. This one has a faster setup and playtime. A lighter, more streamlined ruleset and focused more on positive player interaction. Funfair is a more family-friendly game compared to its predecessor Unfair.
In Funfair each round a new event will be revealed. This will provide the players with a boost or bonus for that round. Then in turn order, each player will perform an action, until all players have either passed or have taken three (sometimes four) actions. Actions include:
-Building an attraction or upgrade into your theme park paying the relevant costs. Cards can be built directly from the open market or from your hand.
-Taking a card from the market or Park deck into your hand
-Gain blueprint cards which can provide big points if the conditions detailed on the card are satisfied
-Gain money equal to the number of attractions you have built
-Demolishing an attraction/upgrade
Each player can only build a maximum of five attractions including their Showcase attraction which they are dealt at the start of the game. The showcase attraction is the biggest, most impressive ride that your park will have but it comes with a steep price tag. At the beginning of each round five coins are placed on your Showcase card (from an anonymous, but friendly investor) which can only be used for this one card. So round to round it will get cheaper and can eventually be built for free. Once a player has built their Showcase attraction they can take a fourth action each round. After all players have taken their actions, there is a guest phase in which players receive income from their park and then a cleanup step before proceeding to the next round.
Final scoring is calculated based on the blueprint cards you have achieved (or points deducted if they have not been achieved), each upgrade on each attraction and money. Some staff cards may provide end game scoring bonuses. The player with the most points is the winner and has built the best theme park in town.
Putting the 'F' in Unfair
Funfair certainly has all the good theme park building vibes going on that was present in its predecessor Unfair. The "take that" element present in Unfair has been removed. The gameplay has been streamlined and the game is now a family-friendly affair. The negative city cards have been removed as have the event cards. The resulting game is a fun and fair (sorry, couldn't resist) game about building the best theme park. Think of a popular theme park building video game come to board game form.
The gameplay is fairly straightforward. You can build Park cards (attractions, upgrades, staff) from your hand or from the market and add them to your theme park. Each theme park can only hold five attractions so deciding what you build is not always easy. Do you go for the cheap cards that might not generate you income or focus on a few more expensive, but harder to build, attractions to get you the money you need to build more upgrades. If you see an upgrade that you need then you had better build it or pick it up when you can as all the market cards are discarded at the end of the round. So there is some tension in the card draw which I really like.
There is some luck in the cards that are drawn, but there are multiple copies of most Park cards (if not all) in the deck, so the chances are that you can find what you need. I like the blueprint cards as they give you an objective to aim for, especially if gained early on. They can also offer some fun push your luck moments especially towards the end of the game when the blueprint is no longer available. Do you risk drawing a blueprint card with only two/three rounds left?
Any blueprint cards that you do not complete result in a negative ten points at the end of the game. The other aspect of the blueprint cards I like is that some offer a bonus objective you can complete to score more points. So, do you just have a few blueprint cards and hit the required objective and the bonus objective or diversify and just try to hit the required objective on a number of blueprint cards.
The Star Attraction
The Showcase attraction is another interesting aspect as the longer you wait the cheaper it becomes, however, you want to build this as quickly as possible to give you the additional fourth action. So that push/pull decision of when to build or when to wait for one more round is a tough one. If you spend everything you have to get it built then you may well have a fourth action, but no money to do anything with it, so careful planning of your money and your actions is essential.
The Choice is Yours
On top of the blueprint cards and the Showcase attraction, the game is just very enjoyable. You can build some very cool attractions with some fun upgrades. A water slide with comfortable seats, why wouldn't you? A restaurant with a pirate, jungle theme, sure thing. I also like how you are limited to a total of five attractions making the interaction between what you build and when you take blueprint cards that much more important.
The rules around the upgrade are also straight forward, you can't have two of the same upgrade on any attraction. At the end of the game, you score points for each icon on an attraction. So during the game, you are doing a lot of maths in your head. You will be working out how many points you get if you put the upgrade on this attraction compared to another one. It is not a massive issue as in reality you will always get more points the more upgrades you have. It is always best to put an upgrade on an attraction that already has the most upgrades if you can.
Overall, Funfair is a wonderfully enjoyable game. It is easy to play, has a quick playtime and has a great theme. I have been having a great time with this game recently and can only hope that they release some new themes/expansions to mix and match with the core set.