FRUTTI DI MARE
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on May 9, 2017
Who among you has ever eaten a big plate of Pasta Frutti di Mare? Well, I sure have! But I had never seen a fully fledged battle take place on said plate... until now! The King Crabs are gathering their forces, the Mussels are marching and the Salmons are setting up their attack!
Never have I witnessed a crustacean carnage of this magnitude! Never has humanity seen such a calamari calamity as the one taking place in front of my very eyes right now. The Spaghetti Skirmish has reached its high point and the Frutti fatalities are through the roof. This is not dinner, this is total and utter war! Hmmm, I suspect something fishy is going on here...
No ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I have not gone off my rocker. Quite on the contrary, actually; I am telling the honest-to god truth! Where once was my meal, sea creatures are battling each other to the death! So, how is it that my dinner plate has turned into a warzone? Well, that's easy. I have the people at Black Box Adventures to thank for that. You see, what's actually happening is that I am being joined by one of the founders of Black Box Adventures, Bart Latten, to play a few rounds of their latest board game: Frutti di Mare!
Frutti di Mare is a tactical game of world (or, in this case: plate) domination. But it has a twist; it is silly beyond belief! Now, don't go thinking this is a bad thing! Quite the contrary, actually. The game itself is extremely well thought out. It's the characters that make it silly... in the best way possible! The captain of your forces is the King Crab, who rallies the troops into a battle frenzy. Just like when playing chess, the King can only do so much in itself, so he must be protected at all costs! This is where the rest of your sea-dwelling troops come in. Mighty Mussels, Cunning Calamari, Smoking Salmon, Loyal lobsters and many, many more make up your troops and can be sent into battle to vanquish your enemies and turn you into the King of the Plate.
But, let's start at the beginning. Frutti di Mare can be played with up to six players simultaneously. As you've probably guessed by now, the playing field is a plate of spaghetti. Each player plays as a King Crab. Your final objective is to conquer the plate and crown yourself King of all the Frutti. This can be done in one of three ways: One, reach the center of the board with your King Crab. The first player to reach the center with his Crab wins the game. Two, reach the center of the board with one of the Royal Frutti (designated by a little) and survive there for an entire round. Three, defeat all other players by slaying their King Crab. Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Well, it's not as easy as it sounds!
At the start of the game, each player receives his or her King Crab, one Mighty Mussel and one Cunning Calamari. These Frutti make up the basis of your army. The King Crab is placed on his "throne", which is the spot in the bottom center of your section of the board, while the Calamari and Mussel are both put on one of the two recruitment spots in your section. Each player also receives one pearl. We will come back to those later. At the start of the game, the players decide who among them makes the best pasta. That player may go first. Don't worry, if you can't decide, you can always throw a die to see who gets to go first. But, believe me, deciding who goes first by comparing pasta recipes is infinitely more fun! The player who gets to go first moves his or her Frutti across the board, according to the number of spaces that particular Frutti can move per round. This is represented by a number, printed on your menu.
Wait... what? Your menu?! Yes, everything about Frutti di Mare is done completely in style. The rulebook is the book of recipes and the player's cheat sheet is the menu. In this menu, every Frutti in the game is listed, along with its movement, attack and defense value and any special powers and boost powers if they have them and the type of Frutti . It also, like any good menu would, lists the cost of each Frutti. Yes, Frutti cost money. Or rather, the recruiting of Frutti into your army costs money. So basically, all Frutti are mercenaries for hire. Each turn, every player collects one gold piece. You can collect additional money by placing your Mighty Mussels or Shimmering Scallops on the so-called "worker spots" that are scattered across the board. If you have a Mussel on such a spot, you gain one additional gold piece per turn. If you have a Shimmering Scallop on such a spot, you gain two additional gold pieces. So be sure to have some worker Frutti in your ranks, so you can expand your army as fast as possible, possibly giving you the upper hand in any battle you may encounter.
Each round of the game consists of three phases: the income phase, the recruitment phase and the action phase. In the income phase, the player collects a number of gold coins, according to the number of worker Frutti he or she has in the worker spots on the board. After this it is time for the recruitment phase. The player spends coins and chooses the Frutti he or she wishes to put in play. Just make sure you have a free recruitment spot on your side of the board, or you will be recruiting no Frutti at all! After you've expanded your army, you enter the action phase of your turn. Move your Frutti to the location of your choice, provided that location isn't further away than the number of spaces that Frutti may walk. After a Frutti has walked, it may, if you so wish, attack an enemy Frutti. You don't need to move every single one of your Frutti, so if one of them is in a spot you really like, just leave it be. After you've had all your actions, it's the next player's turn.
Time to do battle! When you are confident enough that you can win a fight between you and one of your opponents, simply move your Frutti next to one of your opponent's Frutti and attack them. Some Frutti have a ranged attack, making it easier for them to reach distant enemies. Keep in mind though, that you can generally only move once per turn, so you can't run away after an unsuccessful attack! You must also walk first and then attack, not the other way around. That aside, let's attack, shall we? The attacking player checks the attack strength of the Frutti they are using and the defending player checks the defense strength of the Frutti being attacked. The number denotes the number of dice that may be rolled in order to attack of defend. Resolve the die roll and the player with the highest number of correct symbols wins. If the attacking player attacks with three dice and manages to roll three hits, the defending player must match this number with defend icons. If he or she cannot do this, the Frutti is taken off the board and doesn't enter the game until one of the players has won said game. So yes, the number of Frutti in the game are limited, making it necessary to plan your strategy and recruit Frutti accordingly.
When a player attacks another character, he or she rolls the number of dice, listed on the character sheet of his or her character, while the attacked character defends with the number of dice shown on its character sheet. When the attacker rolls three skulls, the defending party has to roll three shields (hero shields for the heroes and DM shields for the DM). If this fails, the defending party suffers damage points, equal to the number of shields he or she failed to roll. In the basic game, this usually meant that monsters were killed instantly, because they only had one life point.
Back to the Pearls I mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago! Besides looking pretty, these nautical treasures do have a function. They show how many life points the King Crab has, as well as enable said King Crab to give an inspirational speech. There are four types of speeches, which can be given at any time during your turn:
Long Live The King
By giving this speech, the King Crab must move one space, but receives an additional pearl. If the King Crab has five pearls, he must only move one space, without receiving an additional pearl. As long as the King is on his starting spot on the board, he cannot be attacked, so be careful that you don't leave him unprotected if and when he leaves this spot!
For Honor And Pride
This speech gives one of your Frutti (except the King Crab) an extra turn. Giving this speech will cost you one pearl.
Hard Work Is A Virtue
This speech will cost you two pearls, but will grant you one coin. You can spend this coin in this turn, provided you gave the speech before or during your recruitment phase.
Sleep With The Fishes
This is the most expensive of all four speeches and will cost you a whopping total of four pearls. For this price, you may select one of any opponent's Frutti (except the King Crab) and return it to the stock.
The nice thing about these speeches is that you can use them to either gain pearls or spend pearls for a perk. Keep in mind that your King Crab dies if he has no pearls left, so be careful not to deplete them too quickly!
As you might have noticed by now, there's a lot more to Frutti di Mare than meets the eye! I especially like the fact that there are multiple ways of winning the game. If you are the sneaky type, you can try to lure your enemies into a false sense of security and sneak your king to the center of the board. On the other hand, if you are more of an all-guns-blazing type of player (like me), you might just want to start attacking enemy Frutti like there's no tomorrow! There are countless other strategies to concoct; it's really up to you how you play your game.
The artwork of the game is really cool! The cartoony-looking Frutti are all awesome and the art style perfectly fits the feel of the game. Because Frutti di Mare can be played with two to six players, without losing so much as a smidge of its excitement and entertainment value, it is an ideal game to play with any number of friends. I love the fact that everything about this game is presented in style. This ties the game together and helps to get you into the right mood. I would definitely recommend Frutti di Mare to everyone who loves a tactical and fun board game, filled with cool characters and loads of possibilities!
Trust me when I say that making spaghetti has never been this much fun! If you wish to know more about this awesome game, just visit the Frutti di Mare Kickstarter page or the Black Box Adventures website and discover everything there is to know about Frutti di Mare and Black Box Adventures! And now, if you'd excuse me, I have an exceptionally pesky octopus to take care of... Hmmm, where did I put my kitchen knife?
FRUTTI DI MARE
Black Box Adventures
Designer: Maarten de Schrijver
Players: 2 - 6 players, ages 10 & up
Playtime: approx. 30 minutes