Fuji Flush Adds New Twist to Numbers GamesRepublish
There are hundreds of card games built around numbers. You match them in poker and crazy eights. You order them in trick-taking and ladder games. It’s hard to imagine that there are any new twists on number card games left to be found — and then a game like Fuji Flush comes along.
Ignore the title for now. It’s almost meaningless, reflecting designer Friedmann Friese’s affection for the letter F more than any rational description. “Gamer Uno” would be a better description, except that Fuji Flush is less chaotic, more strategic, and in general more fun.
Like Uno, your goal is to get rid of all of your cards. You start with six cards (five cards if you have seven or eight players) and can play any card you want on your turn. However, most of the time you can only permanently dispose of the card if the turn gets back around to you and you still have the card in front of you. If an opponent plays a card that is higher than yours, you have to discard your card and draw a new one.
Fuji Flush’s Frantic Friendships
If that were all there were to the game, Fuji Flush wouldn’t be much fun. But that’s where Friese’s twist comes in. If you play a card that is the same as one that at least one opponent already has in play, you and your opponent(s) get to add the value of the cards together.
If Ann plays six and Bob plays a six, both Ann and Bob treat their cards as twelves. That means Carly can’t flush out their sixes with her eight. And if Ann’s card is still in play when the turn gets back to her, both Ann and Bob get to discard their sixes.
There are a lot of low cards in a Fuji Flush deck, and only a few high cards. Anyone holding a low card has a strong incentive to team up with other players. The team-up comes with a price, though — if it’s successful, both players get rid of a card and advance closer to victory. Teaming up with a player who has more cards than you is great. Teaming up with the player who has one or two cards? Not so much.
This fact of numerical life leads to a constant series of micro-alliances. Players quickly grasp the advantages and risks of teaming up, then quickly change partners so they can rid of two cards while the other players only get rid of one. The bright, easy-to-read cards keep the game state clear, but it’s much harder to read the other players and turn the game your way.
Fuji Flush is a simple little gem of a card game. That’s not surprising coming from a designer of Friedmann Friese’s stature, but it is surprising that nobody every thought of it before. It looks like “card games with numbers” still has a few tricks left in it.
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