The Faza invaded Earth 2 years ago spreading their drones across the planet, terraforming it, and wiping out our military forces. Humanity fought back but there wasn’t anything they could do against such overwhelming forces. That was until a group of insurgent Faza turned against their own kind to help Humanity have a fighting chance. With their insider knowledge of the enemy, the people of Earth prepared their final stand against the Motherships of the Faza.
FAZA is a cooperative game where the players are working together against overwhelming odds to take down the 3 FAZA Motherships, The Carrier, The Destroyer, and The Fazaformer. Destroy them all and win. If any player dies, the board runs out of Rebel Faza, Drones can’t be added to the board, or all Outposts have been Fazaformed…well it’s game over, man. Game over.
During the game’s setup players will lay out the 3 Mothership’s cards, a deck of FAZA Cards, the 24 tiles to make up the board, and each player’s character and Player Cards. The board is then populated with the Motherships, Drones, Player Tokens, and Rebel Faza. A 4 player setup can be seen below.
Each turn players move simultaneously using cards from their Player Cards, which also serve as each player’s health. The more damage a player takes, the fewer actions they can perform until healed. Player Cards provide movement, attack bonuses, and special abilities. Each character also has a unique ability that can be used throughout the game. Players must move around the board killing Drones to earn points to hire Rebel Faza, get attack bonuses, and other upgrades. The goal of the game is to destroy all the Drones around Mothership, sacrifice Rebel Faza, and resolve Faza cards to destroy the Motherships.
This might not be so bad if the Motherships didn’t get their own turn to mess things up. After the player phase, the Motherships get to take actions based on a number of players. The Destroyer will damage players, kill Rebel Faza, and basically wipe things from the board. The Carrier drops Drones all over the place, swarming the board with more and more of the nasty foes. Finally, The Fazaformer will terraform tiles that damage players if they end their turn on them. Even a destroyed Mothership has some sort of effect on the game come the Faza phase.
That’s the basics in a nutshell. There’s plenty more to the game, so check out the full rules to get a better feel to how it plays.
Being a Game Crafter game the components aren’t the highest quality. That’s not to say they’re by any means bad, just not anywhere near your typical fully-manufactured title. Cards are a bit thinner, the board not quite as sturdy, and there’s no insert to hold all the pieces when the game is put away. That being said the laser-cut tiles are nice and thick and the dice and plastic bits very well made. Just be careful when punching out the tiles so you don’t pull any of the printed paper from the board. What really stands out in FAZA is the retro sci-fi art and the games muted color palette. It’s super thematic, and a wonderful touch.
FAZA is one of a handful of games that made it to the finals in The Game Crafter’s Big Box Challenge, and with good reason. It’s an excellent cooperative game that manages to keep all the players engaged at once with its simultaneous play. The difficulty is scalable by changing the amount of health any of the Mothership’s have and the game self-regulates the difficulty for more or fewer players by how many actions the Motherships get during the Faza Phase. It does not, however, have a mechanic for dealing with over-controlling players who like to micromanage everyone else at the table, similar to many other cooperatives on the market today. It’s by no means a dealbreaker, as it kind of comes with the territory for this style of game.
At its default difficulty, FAZA provides enough challenge to be entertaining without being overly punishing to players. It’s perfectly possible to win your first game, and most of your games played at this level. That doesn’t mean that some games won’t be really close, but the real challenge comes by beefing up the Motherships. Once they get moving and the board gets more chaotic is a race to manage everything so that one of the 4 defeat conditions aren’t met. Keeping a good supply of Rebels is key, which means taking out Drones and risking taking damage, and possibly killing players. It’s risk-management for certain.
Generally, the cost of Game Crafter games is a bit higher due to the print-on-demand nature of the service. FAZA comes in at $45 and is actually a pretty good deal at that price for the amount of game you’re really getting. Just take good care of your components, as they’re likely to not last as long as something professionally manufactured.
If you’re a fan of cooperatives you owe it to yourself to give FAZA a shot.
A copy of FAZA was provided free for review by Benjamin Farahmand