If you’d created a co-op game about descending an erupting volcano, why name it after the most famously tranquil mountain in the world? Admittedly Mount Fuji is an extinct volcano, but if you buy Fuji expecting Hokusai and Zen poetry, that will be the first of your disappointments.
Your path down the volcano is made of tiles, and lava hot on your heels. Each tile has different requirements if you want to move to it; Fuji’s heart lies in rolling several dice and comparing them to your neighbours’, vis-à-vis those requirements. If your roll (say, the sum of your dice showing blue faces plus all your fives) beats your neighbours’, you can move. If your neighbours’ rolls – based on different requirements – beat their neighbours’ then they can move too. Screw up and lose a single player to the oncoming lava, and it’s game over.
This would be fairly easy if you could tell each other your rolls, but as with Warsch’s big hit The Mind, your communication is constrained. You do get a reroll or two each turn, plus maybe a boost from a unique skill or equipment.
Fuji has two main problems. First of all, the mechanics don’t fit the theme. The tiles and movement systems are clever, but there’s no reason why my roll should affect anyone else’s ability to move. Secondly, a combination of a bad roll and bad tile placement will end the game, with no way to escape.
It’s a Marmite game. I enjoyed it, my fellow players didn’t. We died within two turns in the first game and though we did better the second time, losing still felt like bad luck not bad strategy. Plus it’s a bit too long for that just-one-more-try feel that makes The Mind work so well.
Warsch is a prolific designer with a lot of original ideas. The core of Fuji could be a great mechanic in something else, but the game’s structure needs more polish and a better choice of theme.
PLAY IT? - MAYBE
Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
Artist: Weberson Santiago
Time: 30-60 minutes
This review originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.