Toward the end of last year (2020), I did a review of Unfair from Good Games Publishing. If I remember correctly, I gushed over it. In fact, it became one of my favorite new-to-me games of 2020. And while I loved it, there was a fair amount (or Unfair amount, am I right?) of take-that in the game. A lot of folks try to avoid the negative player interactions, the demolishing of other players’ park attractions, the stealing of their money, and, well, you get the idea.
Funfair is the version of #Unfair you need if you play with volatile gamers. Have a child that can’t take a little disruption without going berserk (guilty as charged...)? Do you have “that guy” in your game group that always feels like everyone is picking on him (even when you’re not)? Well, with Funfair, you get the fun and games of Unfair, just without the panic that comes along with soul-crushing events.
If you’re familiar with Unfair, you’ll be familiar with Funfair. Of course, there are a few rules changes, but we can touch on those later. For now, let’s dive in to see how I really feel about the more streamlined younger sibling of Unfair. And, because this is a standalone counterpart to its predecessor, I will be doing some comparisons along the way. That said, I’ll try and keep my thoughts as standalone as possible, so even if you know nothing about Unfair, you’ll still get a fair picture of Funfair. Fair enough?
The first thing I noticed was the cards. There were no specific decks for specific factions. Instead, there is one deck of Park cards that include cards from the four factions (or themes, I suppose they’re called in this game). That intrigued me. You see, in Unfair, there is one themed deck per player. So, if you have five players, you’re getting five different themes. Here, however, even with two players you’re still going to have four themes. I was intrigued to see how that went.
Still, everything looks great. I noticed there wasn’t as much to set up as well, which is actually really nice. Just shuffle the deck and you’re good! Setup was a breeze, and while I didn’t think setup for Unfair was a lot, this is still faster and easier. And that’s always a good thing.
In fact, there was nothing overwhelming about Funfair. Despite there being four different themes being used, you don’t have to worry about separating them out after each game by theme deck. And, perhaps best of all, only good things happen to you at the start of each round during the City Event phase. So if you love a good tableau builder but shy away from confrontation, Funfair is here to say hi.
Funfair is a smooth ride. Thank goodness, too, considering the game’s theme. (Nobody likes a rickety old roller coaster.) At the start of each round, a City Event card is drawn. This card affects all players, and gives good things. Money. Perks. You name it.
Next comes the Action phase. Here, you can play a card into your park, get a blueprint (i.e. bonus score card), demolish parts of your own park (shouldn’t have put that there…), or, if you’re out of cash, you can shake down park goers…I mean, uh, check the ground near attractions for fallen change (essentially, you get a buck for each attraction you have).
There is a strong element of set collection here as well. You see, each attraction and upgrade on your attractions has a unique name and a special symbol. The more symbols your attractions have, the more you’re going to score at the end of the game. So, building up your attractions is a good idea. But there’s just so much to do! With five possible attractions—each helping attract visitors and, by association, money—there’s always something to do.
With blueprints, you’re trying to get your park to meet certain requirements. Completing these blueprints can net you a heap of points. The way you build your park is different every game, and there is a lot of replay value here.
I mentioned some slight rules variations between Unfair and Funfair, so this short section is for those familiar with Unfair. Although small, the changes are potent and good.
One difference is with your Showcase card. Besides all of the showcase cards being the same (aside from theme), at the end of a round, if you still haven’t built your Showcase attraction, you put five dollars on it. Within a few rounds, your Showcase attraction is much cheaper, thanks to those generous donations, and if you wait long enough, it’ll be free! Of course, investors don’t like their time being wasted, so if the game ends and you still haven’t built your Showcase attraction, they’ll take their money back. Showcase attractions are pretty expensive, so it’s nice to have a bit of extra help paying for it. The money can only be used on the Showcase though, so don’t get any greedy ideas!
Without personal event cards to play, the gameplay speeds up and the underhanded actions go away. Of course, it also removes the ability to receive good things for yourself during that step, but it's the price you pay for world peace.
In Unfair, you get paid up to your maximum capacity, which is 15 by default. There is no such maximum capacity in Funfair, however, so keep building your park as big as you like to capitalize on that!
The theme park theme is certainly thematic. And, with the various attractions, upgrades, and park staff, it’s a strong theme. Everything plays so well together to make the theme feel as real as it can.
The art is good. It’s a fun part of the game, because it helps give life to the theme. Sometimes I like looking at the pictures of the attractions and trying to decide if I’d chicken out in real life or not. My wife says yes, I would. But we don’t know that, now, do we? At any rate, if you’re like me and don’t have a death wish, you can still enjoy the thrill with the clever art.
These are the things that make the game so awesome (for me, anyway):
- Flowing gameplay
- Simple and quick setup
- Big replay value
- Fun mix and integration of various game mechanisms (i.e. set collection, tableau building, economy, hand management)
Things to Consider
I think the only thing I’d mention here is the play time. The box says about 15 minutes per player. As with Unfair, I found the estimate to be a little faster than what actually happens. Still, despite taking a bit longer than what the box says, it doesn’t feel like it drags. And, after a few games, your group should be able to get close enough to the time stated on the box. Honestly, this is a very small thing that doesn’t bother me, but, again, to be considered for you and your group.
Well, well, well.
Funfair certainly lives up to its name! I was impressed with how they streamlined the original game and made it more friendly—in more than one way. It’s friendly to new gamers who might be intimidated by Unfair. It’s friendly in that you can’t mess with each other, and only good things happen. And, of course, it’s friendly in that you get to sit down and play with friends (awwwww).
I absolutely love Unfair, but you know what? Funfair is super good as well. Personally, I prefer Unfair due to all of the other theme decks and, yes, I do enjoy the “take-that” aspect as well. But I will never hesitate to play Funfair in its stead, especially if I want to play with those who appreciate simpler gameplay and none of the “negative” player interaction.
The gameplay between the two games are so similar, that there really isn’t a huge difference. But the differences that are there are sufficient to make them different games, appealing to different crowds. If you like being able to choose your themes you use, a bit of stress from worrying about what other players are scheming—or scheming yourself—or a more varied setup, Unfair is for you.
However, if you prefer a more streamlined game that won’t spark riots during game night, where you don’t have to worry about others’ scheming, and faster gameplay, you’ll probably prefer Funfair.
While I enjoy both no end, I will bring out one versus the other depending on who I play with. If it’s game night, it’ll be Unfair. If it’s with in-laws or more casual gamers, Funfair it is. I’m very happy to have both, as both fulfill a different gaming goal.
What about you? Do you think you’d prefer Funfair or Unfair? Let us know why in the comments!
About the Author
Benjamin hails from Canada but now lives in Kentucky with his wife and kids. He’s a certified copyeditor and a freelance writer and editor, covering everything from board game rule books to novels. An avid writer of science fiction and fantasy, it comes as no surprise that his favorite board games are those with rich, engaging themes. When he’s not writing or playing games, Benjamin loves to play ultimate Frisbee, watch and play rugby, and read the most epic fantasy books available. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminKocher and Instagram @Benjamin_Kocher. You can also read his board game inspired fiction (among other things) at BoardGameImmersion.com.