You are a dwarf craftsman making jewelery of silver and precious gems. Use your team of dwarfs to mine jewels and set these into settings of fine silver which you can sell to earn prestige among your peers. Of course the grander the jewelery, the greater the prestige; but you have a quota to fill so you must work quickly. Various magical potions and abilities are available through the black market to aid you but you will need to use them wisely.
Freya, on the other hand, would like you to complete part of the Brisingamen for her. If you do this, she will reward you with favours in the form of free action tokens which you can use to help you achieve your goal. If all four parts of the Brisingamen are completed then your unspent tokens could well be worth more than the grandest jewelery. Will you be tempted by Freya's offer and turn your hand to crafting part of the Brisingamen?
Designer: Don Bone
Publisher: Sagacity Games
3 - 5 Players, 1 hour
Review by: Greg J. Schloesser
Designed by the congenial Australian Don Bone, author of the puzzle / game Sunda to Sahul, Freya's Folly is based on an ancient Norse legend. Freya, the goddess of fertility and passion, charged a tribe of dwarves with constructing her enchanting necklace. Being dwarves, however, they are industrious and, well, greedy by nature, and insist on continuing to mine the precious gems for their own fabrication purposes. According to the legend, this led to "much unhappiness, death and destruction". Fortunately, the game doesn't lead to such unpleasant experiences. Instead, it is quite the pleasant gaming adventure.
The playing board depicts the various passageways and caverns of an extensive mine. The caverns are filled with precious gems of five types and two sizes, and it is the dwarves' task to retrieve these gems and construct various items of jewelry. In addition to one or more pieces of Freya's "Brisingamen" necklace, there are always eight different items of jewelry available to be forged. Each piece of jewelry is represented by a card, and depicts the number and type of gems required to manufacture it, as well as the victory points it earns for the player once it is constructed.
Each player has a family of 4 - 6 dwarves, depending upon the number of players. Players will use actions to send these dwarves into the mines, secure pieces of jewelry to construct, acquire special abilities, trade jewels with the black market, and actually forge the jewelry. Players only have two actions per turn, so they must continuously prioritize their choices.
When moving dwarves, players move from location to location, marked on the map with lanterns. A dwarf can pass-by (hop over) up to two other dwarves, so movement is akin to a game of "leap-frog". One of the tactics is to align your dwarves so that this leap-frog effect will allow them to move faster and deeper into the mine. Of course, you can take advantage of the positioning of your opponent's dwarves to facilitate this fast movement.
Each dwarf can only carry one load of gems, unless aided by the use of a specific special ability card. So, players will generally send all of their dwarves into the mine to reduce the number of times a dwarf must enter, exit, then re-enter the mine again. Once a dwarf exits the mine, the gems that were in his wheelbarrow on the player mat are set aside, ultimately to be used to manufacture jewelry. There is a slight danger to amassing gems outside of the mine, however, as there are several "thief" ability cards which allow the wielder to steal two gems from the victim. Thus, it is usually wiser to have jewelry ready to be constructed before exiting the mine with valuable gems. However, if a player fails to construct a piece of jewelry he acquired, it will cost him victory points at game's end. So, one cannot simply just grab any piece of jewelry that fetches his fancy.
When constructing a piece of jewelry, the player must have previously taken the card from one of the eight on display. The player must use the indicated types of gems, then commit one of his dwarves to the construction. The gems, card, and dwarf are set aside, and the dwarf is now out of play. Since a player's supply of dwarves dwindles with each piece of jewelry forged, it is generally wise to construct the more valuable pieces of jewelry as opposed to taking the discount jeweler approach.
The special ability cards grant the holder unique abilities. Dwarves can move faster, carry more gems, block passageways, or steal jewels from an opponent. There are even pet bats that can instantly fly two gems out of the mine. Unfortunately, this card is misprinted in the first edition, but a paste-up should be available on the company website soon. Most of the ability cards must be assigned to a dwarf before he enters the mine.
Constructing Freya's necklace requires gold, which is the rarest gem in mine. When a player successfully constructs a piece of the Brisingamen, he is rewarded with a number of free action tokens. These tokens can be used during the course of the game to execute an extra action, or saved until the end of the game for victory points. The number of points earned is decreased, however, if the game ends with the Brisingamen incomplete.
The game ends as soon as four pieces of the Brisingamen are forged, or when a player constructs 4, 5 or 6 pieces of jewelry (depending upon the number of players) are manufactured. At this point, players tally the value of the jewelry they have completed, unused gems, and the extra action tokens they obtained. The player who completed the game receives a 6-point value. From this total, players subtract the penalty for any incomplete pieces of jewelry in their possession. The player with the greatest value becomes the "Duke of Dwarves" and wins the game.
The game reminds me a bit of Bazaar and Silberzwerg, both games which require players to amass certain combinations of gems in order to earn cards granting victory points. Freya's Folly adds a movement mechanism and special ability cards to the mix, giving the game a novel approach. Since there are eight jewelry cards available for construction at all times, it really isn't terribly difficult to acquire the gems needed to forge one or more of the items. However, the game is somewhat of a race, as the end game can come unexpectedly via the construction of the required number of jewelry items. So, the main decisions involve which items to construct, and how deep to go into the mine in search of more valuable gems. Taking too much time attempting to mine the valuable gems could result in the game ending before you can exit the mine with the goods.
The game is easy to learn and play, and does generate a satisfying feeling. I'm not sure of the game's longevity, as each game does feel much like the one which preceded it. Still, at the moment, I'm having fun exploring the mines and forging jewelry. I just hope I can steer clear of Freya's wrath.