Finca is a board game about fruit farming. That might not sound so interesting, but it is actually a fun strategic game that is focused enough that it doesn’t require terribly deep thinking, which is refreshing.
Turns are quick, the components are attractive and good quality, and there is something very satisfying about harvesting little pieces of wooden fruit. The windmill mechanic for moving farmers and getting fruit is also an interesting puzzle-like system.
Basic stats about Finca: 2-4 players, 45 min, ages 10+
Sean and I played Finca recently at Naked City Brewery, which I blogged about recently. It’s a great place to take a game and get some good beer and food. On that night, we started out with Racko and switched to Finca after dinner. We had some yummy beer while we played Finca.
This game was Sean’s first time playing Finca. I had played Finca twice before with friends, once as a two-player game and once as a three-player game.
The premise of Finca is that players are fruit farmers on the island of Mallorca, a Mediterranean island near Spain. According to Wikipedia, finca is Spanish for an estate that consists of rural or agricultural land.
In Finca, players harvest and deliver fruit to the cities on the island via donkey cart. The player making the delivery to a city must provide the number and type of fruit specifically being requested by the city.
The board and pieces are attractive and nice in quality. The little wooden pieces of fruit really make the game stand out as being cute.
Each player starts with a specific number of farmers. In a two-player game, each player gets five farmer meeples.
The piles of wooden fruit are sorted by type and set next to the game board.
The game also comes with cardboard fruit tiles that are used to tell the players what number and types of fruit each city wants. These fruit tiles are shuffled randomly and then arranged in face-down stacks of four tiles for each city. The top tile is flipped face-up to tell you what the city is currently requesting.
After a player has delivered what a city is requesting, the player takes that fruit tile and keeps it for scoring. Then the next tile for that city is flipped face-up, and this is the city’s new request.
At the start of the game, you also randomly mix up smaller finca bonus tiles and put one at each city. The bonus tile for a city is distributed when all the tiles from the city are gone.
When all the tiles from a city have been taken by the players, a wooden finca is placed on the city. It looks like a barn. At this point, the finca bonus tile is distributed to the player who has delivered the greatest number of the fruit type shown on the bonus tile.
This is determined not by the number of wooden fruit of that type that you have, but by the number of this type of fruit shown on the fruit tiles you have collected.
So your main way of getting points in the game is by delivering fruit and collecting fruit tiles and bonus tiles. But in order to deliver fruit, you must first harvest it. You do that by moving farmers around on a windmill.
There are a bunch of cardboard tiles shaped like pieces of a windmill. Each has one type of fruit shown on it. You mix them up and arrange them randomly on a rondel area. According to Wikipedia, in gaming, a rondel is a wheel-shaped game mechanism with a number of different options.
In Finca, the rondel takes the form of a windmill. To get started, you take turns placing farmers on the windmill. For each farmer that you place, you get to take one wooden fruit that matches the windmill tile you placed the farmer on.
After your farmers are all placed, the real turns begin. On your turn, you have three choices. You can either move a farmer on the windmill, deliver fruit, or use one of your special ability tiles.
Most of the turns are spent moving farmers, since this is how you harvest fruit. You can only move farmers in a clockwise direction.
You determine how far an individual farmer must move based on how many other farmers are currently sharing its blade on the windmill. If the farmer is alone, it would move forward one tile.
If the farmer is currently sharing a tile with one other farmer (of any color), the farmer would move forward two spaces. It is not “up to two” spaces. It is exactly two spaces. If the farmer is sharing with three other farmers, it would move forward three spaces, and so on.
You only move one farmer per turn, and you get to decide which of your farmers to move. Your goal is often to reach tiles with certain types of fruit on them so that you can harvest and deliver that type. But you also need to pay attention to where the other farmers are located, because this affects how many pieces of fruit you get to harvest.
Your farmer will collect the type of fruit shown on the windmill tile where farmer lands. The number of fruits collected is determined by the number of farmers standing on that tile.
For example, if your farmer is alone on the lemon windmill blade at the end of your move, you collect one lemon. If one other farmer of any color is sharing that windmill blade with you, you collect two lemons, and so on. So if you can get your farmer to end up on a blade where other farmers are standing, you will get more fruit.
There is a line drawn horizontally across the windmill, and if one of your meeples crosses the line, you collect a donkey cart from the center of the windmill.
If a player moves a farmer and needs to collect more fruit than is left in the supply, all players must return all of their fruit of that type to the supply, and the player then collects the fruit needed for that turn. The same rule applies to the donkey carts.
This discourages hoarding of fruit or carts, because it’s possible that all those fruits and carts could be taken from you if you hold on to too many of them for too long.
The way to avoid hoarding fruit and carts is by delivering fruit to cities as soon and as often as you can.
The other main thing you can do on your turn instead of moving a farmer is delivering fruit. You do that by using a donkey cart, which can carry up to six fruits total. You can only use one cart per turn.
The cart can carry any six fruits you want; they don’t have to be the same type. You can deliver to multiple cities at once, if you have the fruit needed and can fit it all in your cart at once.
You know what each city wants by its fruit tile. The tile says the number and types of fruit being requested by that city. The tiles range from as low as one to as high as six. For example, one city might request one lemon, while another city requests three figs and two oranges.
To deliver fruit to a city, you collect up the number and type of fruits needed and take one of your donkey carts. You return the fruits and cart to the supply and take the city’s fruit tile.
The number on the city’s fruit tile that you collected will count toward your final score. You can also collect special bonus tiles by getting one tile of each number from one to six. The first person to do that gets a bonus tile. The next person to do that gets a smaller bonus. You can even continue getting those bonuses if you collect more sets.
You also get bonuses by collecting the finca bonus tile when the all of the city’s fruit tiles have been collected. The finca bonus tile goes to the player who has delivered the most of the fruit of that type. Often, this is not the same player who caused the city to run out of tiles.
It’s worth paying attention to which bonuses are associated with which cities. You can focus on depleting those city tiles in order to get the bonus for yourself, if you know you are way ahead on oranges or lemons or whatever.
At the start of the game, each player gets four tiles that give them special abilities. You can use one of these tiles instead of the basic moving farmers or delivering on your turn. You can only use each special ability once.
The abilities allow you to make a delivery using a large donkey cart with space for ten fruits, move a farmer anywhere on the windmill, take a second turn at moving a farmer on the windmill directly after the first, and make a successful delivery with one fruit less than the city was requesting.
In a two-player game, the game ends when four cities are out of fruit tiles and have fincas on them. At this point, you count your score based on the fruit and bonus tiles you have. You also get two points for any special ability tile that you didn’t use during the game.
In our two-player game, Sean got every single finca bonus tile, and he made more deliveries than I did. He beat me by a huge margin. His score was almost double mine!
I didn’t mind losing, though. It was fun to teach Sean a new game, and Finca is a fun and satisfying game even when you don’t win.
I think Finca is great for times when you want the experience of a real board game but don’t want something with long turns that make your brain hurt. It’s a mellow game with some strategic thinking. It isn’t a laugh out loud silly sort of game, but it’s fun and not too heavy.
Sean compared playing Finca to a more focused version of Stone Age (which I blogged about earlier) where your only goal was to build huts. (The normal Stone Age also has many other ways to get points.)
I think that comparison to a more focused Stone Age makes sense, because Finca gives you more limited ways to win, and your options on any given turn are not so many that it’s mind boggling and difficult to decide. But your decisions do matter; this is not a game of luck.
All of the information about each player is fully visible to everyone at all times. Since there is no hidden information, you can and should pay attention to what the other players are likely to do. I had a hard time predicting what Sean would do in this game, and he beat me to delivering fruit quite a few times because I was focusing too much on my own plan.
- Very cute and attractive looking.
- The windmill mechanic for moving farmers is a fun puzzle element.
- Focused enough that turns are quick and the game moves quickly.
- Strategic enough that your decisions matter; there is very little luck.
- Has a lot of little pieces that require setting up at the start. Not as complicated to set up as many other games, though.
- The storage of the baggies and areas in the box insert are not perfect for these pieces. It isn’t easy to separate the fruit types. I should get more baggies for this.
- Not much else I can think of.