Artist: Harald Lieske
Publisher: 2F Spiele / Rio Grande Games
Fearsome Floors is one of the earliest games I owned from Friedemann Friese and it’s certainly an oddball of a game. Unlike his other heavyweights like Power Grid or Faiyum, Fearsome Floors is a light-hearted race game where players pit their wits to see if their peeps can escape the dungeon safely. The first group to get a certain number of individuals out of the dungeon wins the game. After all, you don’t need to outrun the monster, you just need to exit faster than the next group because failure means being trapped in the dungeon and offed by the monster. The game lasts for two “cycles” of monster movement, but the game will have an instant victory condition if a certain number of people exit the dungeon.
The game board in Fearsome Floors is a square dungeon grid filled with weird objects and contraptions that are both obstacles to make it harder for the escapees to reach the exit but also function as areas where players can hide from the monster. Players enter the dungeon from one corner of the board and must exit from the furthest corner of the board from the entrance. In between them stands the monster Furunkulus that will roam the dungeon following a set of rigid rules set forth by his master. The monster will move a number of steps based on a set of movement tiles flipped over at the end of each turn. Monster movement ranges from 5 to 10 steps with 2 unique tiles that enable Furunkulus to move up to 20 steps or until he captures either one or two escapees. Once all tiles save one are drawn, the first cycle is completed and the tiles are shuffled and the second cycle starts. The game ends after 2 cycles of movement.
The monster’s movement can be partially mapped out because movement is entirely dependent on line of sight. If Furunkulus sees an escapee, it will make a beeline for him/her. However, Furunkulus is careful when walking around the dungeon. He always looks left and right when he walks, and so if he spots someone closer, he will turn and head toward the nearest person. If both escapees are equal distance, he will get confused and stay the course, not making any turns. Moreover, if Furunkulus walks toward a wall , he gets automatically teleported to matching set of coordinates printed on the wall.
While all the rigid rules may sound like predicting monster movement is easy, figuring out Furunkulus’s actual movement is more challenging than it sounds since the monster will alter its course based on how other players move their pieces. For example, it’s possible to set up an opponent to be eaten simply by appearing in the monster’s line of sight far to alter movement. Once the direction is diverted, anyone that is in the line of sight and closest to the monster will become its primary target. Similarly, the monster gets confused when people are equidistance. So there is an opportunity to make defensive moves by flanking the monster at equidistance. The game is made more fun with teleporters, sliding blood pools and moveable stone blocks. All of these elements will make Furunkulus’s movements tougher to anticipate. I especially recommend including the teleporters.
In between monster movement, each player gets to move up to 4 escapees toward the exit. Each escapee will have two movement values on each side of a disc. After moving a fixed number of squares, players flip the disc over to reveal a new movement value for the next round. So, Crazy Daisy may move two squares this round but 4 the next. Meanwhile, Ruffles the Dog moves 6 squares now, but only once next round. This is a pretty cool mechanism not only to vary the movement, but also as a reminder for escapee movement as both sides of the discs are colored differently.
I think the key to the game is not to overanalyze each move. The pace has to be rapid for a fun experience. If everyone is mapping out all the possibilities, it will suck the life out of the game. The game only lasts two cycles of monster movement and so, the game theoretically should not drag out. However, if you are stuck with an AP prone player, the game will drag.
I think whether the game is fun, is very group dependent. This is not a game where winning or losing matters as much as getting a good laugh. Yes, you can play to win but it is a light-hearted dungeon romp. If all players have that mindset, then there will be lots of laughs and silly monster memes. If you play this with an 18xx attitude, then it’s probably more merciful to rot in a dungeon or be devoured by Furunkulus.
Initial impression: Good (So long as there is no player AP)
6 Years 5 months: This is possible with co-op play. There are too many variables here for my kid at this age. She can clearly move the escapees around but cannot take into account all the variables. So, this can only work as a co-op where teams of 2 play with individual characters. In which case, there is some discussion going on and some alpha metagaming issues arising. This is not a great game for my kid at this stage, but there is some potential. She does enjoy the monsters. Rather, moving the monsters to devour the poor humans.