Finca Board Game
by Gary Walts
(Montreal Board Game Meetup)
Board game manufacturer:
Rio Grande Games
Number of players:
Finca is a fast paced, light strategy game fun for families and gaming groups alike. It was nominated for the 2009 Spiel des Jahres for Best Board Games, losing out to Dominion (which, let’s face it, is no disgrace).
The game and gameplay
Taking place on the island of Mallorca, your goal in the Finca board game is to harvest fruit and sell them to the local island communities, becoming the richest farmer in the process. Simple. There are six different types of fruit that can be collected during the game: Olives, Oranges, Lemons, Grapes, Figs, and Almonds. Each community’s needs will change as orders are filled.
This game presents itself wonderfully, with wooden bits colored and cut to shape, thick cardboard tiles, an appealing game board, and a clean presentation of the rules. Ziplocks are supplied, so putting everything away is easy! And although there are several different tiles and wooden tokens in the game, the rules booklet illustrates how easy it is to set up and get going.
The turns in this game are fast. You can take one of three actions:
You can move one of your farmers around the windmill to collect fruit and donkey cart tiles. The number of spaces a farmer moves depends on the number of farmers on the space your moving from (yours included). Likewise the number of fruit you collect depends on how many farmers are on the space you land on (again, your farmer included). Donkey cart tiles are collected by passing one of two points on the windmill.
Dominion game won Spiel Des Jahres in the year Finca was nominated
You can trade a Donkey cart tile to deliver up to six fruit, scoring victory points as you do so. There will be as many as ten face up fruit tiles on the board that you can trade in your fruit for, worth one to six victory points each. You can trade for as many tiles as you like so long as you don’t deliver more then six fruit in that turn.
You can use an action tile to take a special action, but when you use it you lose it. Each player gets four action tiles to start the game, and any that you don’t use it worth two victory points at the end of the game, but the abilities are strong. Two of them give you special movements on the windmill, and the other two allow you to deliver extra fruit.
There is a rule in the game to prevent hoarding of donkey cart tiles. If a player is entitled to a donkey cart tile and there are none left, then each player returns all their donkey cart tiles to the supply. The active player can then claim the tile.
The same rule is applied to the fruit tokens. If a player is allowed a number of fruit tokens and there are not enough of that type in the supply, then all players must return their fruit tokens of that type to the supply. The active player then claims the tokens they are entitled to.
Points are scored for delivering fruit and claiming the fruit tile that matches your delivery. The game sets up with ten stacks of four fruit tiles, one for each community, and only the top tile is face up. Newly revealed face down tiles are only turned face up at the end of the turn, so only one tile can be taken from a stack each turn.
When the last fruit tile in a stack is claimed, then the “Finca” tile for that stack is scored. The player who has delivered the most fruit matching the type on the Finca tile at that time gets five points, but if two or more players are tied nobody gets the tile.
Another thing to consider are the bonus point tiles. Up to seven bonus points can be scored if you manage to claim fruit tiles with each value of one to six. And don’t forget, unused action tiles are two points each.
The game ends when enough of the stacks have their fruit tiles depleted (that number scales based on the number of players). Highest score wins the game.
Pros and cons
This game is quick to teach and quick to play. Turns are short, so there is very little downtime, even at three or four players. That makes the game very family friendly. The rules encourage the brisk pace this game is made for.
Its production value is way above average. It’s a nice and colorful looking game that draws people in.
Although the fruit tiles and windmill spaces are randomized, this doesn’t really affect the strategy of the game beyond the first couple of turns.
Some players may knock it for being too light, too simple.
There is no question about it. Not only is this game fun to play, but it’s also easy to get a lot of people to play it more then once. Last time I checked, a game was supposed to bring people around the table. Finca will do that. 5 footprints on 5, all heading towards the lemon crops…
If you’ve played Finca Board Game, please leave a rating and comments using the link below.