I'm a rule reader. I read rules. A lot. Often in the bath. The trouble is that I play a lot of card games and often the rules don't reveal the fun within the cards. FunkiFruit's rules did a good job of explaining the concepts of the game in a straightforward and concise way, but as is usually the case my jaded eyes had not penetrated pass the text to reveal the huge amount of fun the game offers.
Helpfully the stages of your turn are as simple as A, B. C... D! The first thing you do is play as many Action cards as you want, followed by some Basket maintenance, then drawing new Cards before Discarding. You aim is to collect a set of up to 10 cards that will score you the most points. The joy of the game, and the thing that lifts it above other set collection cards games is how the cards combine to give you tough choices about which to keep and which to discard.
The hand limit is 10 cards including two that may be stored facedown in your basket. Card in your basket are safer, but also harder to get rid of should you change your tactics on the fly.
Generally you are rewarded for collecting fruits of the same types, with a little trickery. For example Banana cards come with a number on them, which they will score at the end. If you manage to get your banana total about 21 though you get a massive bonus. Again, this was something that I was initially worried would be unbalanced as some of the numerical bonuses on offer seemed very high but the designers seem to have done an excellent job of balancing the risk and reward of the high scoring strategies.
In one game I had a good amount of tropical fruit and noticed that there was a large bonus available if I collected all four different types of tropical fruit so I prioritised that. Later I found myself with a lot of low ranking bananas and wondered about the bonus for those. However as I only had 10 cards to score I needed to be careful. Thankfully I managed to obtain some large numbered bananas which allowed me to score both bonuses and win the game!
Of course once you have played a couple of times you begin to realise that the other pull of the game is the player interaction. Once you see a player picking up bananas all the time you start to wonder if you should hold on to that 5 point nana you were playing to discard.
Action cards are not scored but give you ample opportunity to mess with your opponents hands, and grab discarded cards that you may want. Of course doing so might mean you are showing your hand to your opponents by which fruits you prioritise. This is vital information and so you may want to hide your intentions by storing up to two cards face down in your basket. The only downside is they will most likely stay there until your next turn so you won't be able to discard them should you change plans.
When you draw cards you will draw two, the first from the deck which you must show to the other players and then the second can be from the top of the deck or from one of the discard piles. Then you must check if you have more than 10 cards and discard down if you do. This is where it gets painful. When you get up to 10 cards this part of the game becomes painful. Do you get carry on doggedly going for that one fruit even though you are pretty sure another player is going for the same...
At lower player counts you won't even use all the cards adding a nice layer of variety as you will leave out at least one fruit type. On top of that we haven't talked about spoiled fruits or swarms. Spoiled fruits are generally negative but some can gain you points when used correctly. Swarms are the end game mechanic. Four are shuffled into the deck, with one of them being in the bottom 6 cards. When ever one is draw all players must face the event and the player that drew the care goes straight to the discard phase.
FunkiFruit pleasantly surprised me in just how well balanced it is and how much fun it is to play. Kickstarter gives time for further refinements which only makes it a more tantalising prospect. The rules may explain how to play, but playing the game lets you understand the how the set collection actually works and brings in a level of decision space I wasn't prepared for in such an easy to play game.
FunkiFruit was enjoyed by both my gamer friends and my 10 year old son who was able to compete just fine. Definitely check this one out on Kickstarter when it launches.