Frisch Fisch / Fresh Fish

Designed by Friedemann Friese
Published by 2F
Copyright 1997 Friedemann Friese
Reviewed by Kurt Adam (

Friedemann Friese is one person you don't forget if you ever see him. The proprietor of 2F Spiele loves the color green. His hair is green, his game boxes are green, components in the games are green. Apparently, he doesn't take Kermit too close to heart. His newest offering is Frisch Fisch continuing his trend of using names with two 'F's in them (started with Falsche FuFFziger). The name means fresh fish and it's fitting for the theme. In the game, the players are building a city on the board which contains four factories. Each of the players will have, by game's end, one outlet for each of the factories. The object of the game is to minimize the distance between all of your outlets and their corresponding factories (hence trying to keep your fish fresh).

The game contains a board with a 10 x 10 grid, 110 tiles of various types, some money counters, a set of blocks in five colors and a set of 4 rings to mark the factories on the board. The different types of tiles are: factory tiles (a fish cannery, an oil refinery, a game factory, and a nuclear waste depot), outlets (1 of each of the 4 types for each player), streets, buildings, and a few special tiles used for variants.

At the beginning, the four outlets are distributed around the board as the players deem fit (the suggested setup is one in each quadrant of the board) and marked with the rings (for ease of identification later in the game). The buildings and the enough outlets for the number of players are shuffled together and placed face down. Each player receives 15 chips and a set of 8 blocks (2 of which are set aside).

On your turn, you may either place a block (provided that you have one to place) or turn up a tile (provided you have a block on the board). When placing a block, you must place it in an empty square adjacent to another block (not necessarily your own) or to a street tile. Obviously this restriction does not come into play on the first round. If you turn a building tile, then you must place it onto a square that you have marked with one of your blocks and add the block back into your available pool. If you turn an outlet tile, then there is a closed fist auction. The highest bidder gets the outlet and places it onto a square that they have marked with a block (the block stays on the board to mark who owns the outlet). Ties during the auction are broken by who is sitting closer to the active player. If the player who turned over the outlet did not win it in the auction, they continue taking turns until they either place a tile or a block on the board. Only the players who do not have an outlet of the type up for auction may participate and the last player gets their outlet for free.

As the board fills up, the crucial rule of the game comes into play. In this city, all the streets must be contiguous and all buildings must have access to the street. This can lead to the situation where a building is placed on the board, and a number of squares are forced to become streets to ensure connectivity. The strategic implications of this are what make the game work so well. You can spend a lot of time lining up real estate in great locations only to have it plowed to allow your opponents to get to the outlets.

Once all the spaces on the board are filled, the game ends and the scores are calculated. The length of the distances between each of your outlets and the corresponding factories are totaled, then the number of chips you have left is _subtracted_. This is another crucial bit. If you blow the farm getting your outlets, you can end up getting beaten by somebody that was a bit less optimal in their paths, but has a lot of chips left.

We've played this game a number of times since Essen and everyone has enjoyed it. It has a good mix of strategic network planning and screwing your fellow players with well-timed bidding and tile placement. There isn't a lot of down time since your choices in tile and block placement are limited. You can't spend time pondering the whole board if you only have three possible choices. The auction element adds nice interactions as you try to cut your bid to bone while still getting the outlet at the right time. Plus, you have the tension of wanting to turn a tile, but wanting to play a block on the board at the same time. You'll need to have most of your blocks on the board to make sure that you have both good spots for outlets and spots to place buildings (and prevent the others from getting good outlet placement). All the usual tough decisions that make a game great are here.

This one will probably be fairly tricky to find. We only stumbled on it after another Essen-goer alerted us to it after playing it with Friedemann. He had to play it with Friedemann since he tried it just by reading the rules and thought it was terrible. He and his friends told Friedemann that it sucked who told them they were playing it wrong and showed them how. That changed his mind enough to declare it best of show (after having played Tigris and Euphrates). We felt that was high praise and scampered off to the 2F booth on Saturday. A play of the game confirmed the game's merits (except to one of the player's) and we bought an armload. The rest of the run sold out that afternoon after we began passing the word. However, it is definitely worth your while to try to get a hold of it (and maybe pressure 2F to do another print run). I'll certainly be looking forward to the next green box to come from 2F.

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell