Review – Faraway

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Designer Corentin Lebrat, Johannes Goupy

Artist Maxime Morin

Publisher Catch Up Games (Pandasaurus Games)

Category Card Game

Length 15-60 minutes

Release Date June 2024

Player Count 2-6

Price $24.95

While most avid board gamers would mention the Brunos (Faidutti and Cathala) if you asked about famous French game designers, some other names come up through “guilty by association,” such as Ludovic Maublanc or (now deceased) Serge Laget. Newcomers Corentin Lebrat (Draftosaurus) and Johannes Goupy (Orichalcum) have both co-designed games with Bruno Cathala, but now they’ve paired up for the surprise hit in a small package, Faraway. This game recently won the “medium weight” Game of the Year award in France, was it justified? Let’s see!

First, I have to say I’m amused, shocked, and impressed by the ridiculous amount of worldbuilding present in this small game’s rulebook. The fun-but-strange artwork is explained in great detail, which is really appreciated. The game itself is all colors and symbols, but the symbols are clear and the artwork is fun and colorful. For a small card game, it’s a little pricey at $24.95, and I wish the cards weren’t square, but overall it’s a solid production.

The game is surprisingly simple: on your turn, play a card into a line of eight cards; players then draft a new card in initiative order, starting with the lowest-number card just played. Within this very basic system, two very crucial things happen that pretty much make the game. First, after you finish your line of eight cards, you score it backwards. Meaning, at the end, you score your 8th card as if the other 7 have not yet been played, the score your 7th card as if only it and the 8th card exist, and so on. This allows for the very definition of long-term planning: you know your first card can depend on the upcoming cards, but your last card needs to be pretty useful on its own. And generally, the cards follow a pattern where you would want to play the high-numbered cards late and the low-numbered cards early, but enter the second twist. 

If you play cards in ascending order, you are rewarded with a special “Sanctuary card”. This can provide bonus points or symbols, not a ton, but they work in the best way possible: they score last, counting everything, but are ever-present, counting towards icons needed for all 8 of your main cards. And that’s it! The game system is actually quite simple, but the wide variety of scoring mechanisms still makes it a bit more advanced. It also means the game takes about as long to score as it does to play, unfortunately.

Despite that, Faraway is a really good game. The interaction is fairly basic: determining who goes first to get a card you really need, or being okay with picking last this turn. But your personal puzzle, especially the conflict being wanting to play cards in ascending order, knowing they might score suboptimally, but who knows what Sanctuary card you’ll get… It’s the perfect level of tension, offering tough but quick decisions, so that overall the game is really only about 15 minutes per player. It feels like a full experience, despite the fact that all you really do is play eight cards in a row. That’s a shockingly impressive feat, and exactly the kind of game I’m looking for these days; being a father of three means that 3-hour monstrosities are never making it to my table. The game is so simple, clever, interesting and quick that it’s really hard not to recommend it to everyone. It’s also available on BoardGameArena, although I found the interface harder to grok than playing in real life. In any case, I expect this game to win more awards in the future and to become one of the hallowed “evergreens” of the hobby, and it deserves to be so. 

The Bottom Line

Faraway is a clever little card game, and it'll be around for a long while.

 

9

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Author: Derek Thompson


I’ve been a board game reviewer on Geeks Under Grace since 2011. I love card-driven games and party games. I have a Ph.D. in Mathematics and teach the subject at Taylor University in Upland, IN. My wife and kids are my favorite gaming partners.