2 – 4 players.
Play time: 15 – 20 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 3
Full disclosure: A review copy of Folded Wishes was provided by B&B Games Studio. It’s not a release copy, so there may be some inconsistencies between my copy of the game and the final version; I’m told they’re mostly aesthetic.
Alright, we’re in the thick of it now! Gen Con releases! What an exciting time. Or, rather, games that are coming out around Gen Con time and I got review copies of at Gen Con! That takes longer to say, but, you know, for y’all, I’ll put in the extra effort. Also to just arbitrarily pad the length of these reviews. Got to get to two million words somehow, right? Right. Anyways, Folded Wishes is one such game, so let’s get right down to the review!
In Folded Wishes, you play as origami crafters attempting to earn the favor of the Emperor, who is super impressed by origami. To be fair, I’m the same way with both origami and balloon animals, so, I don’t really have a joke; it’s just a statement that that is reasonable. Fold, crease, crumple, and swap your way to victory and become a Master of Origami!
First, determine your player order, and give each player the appropriate starting tiles:
They come with their own corresponding Skill Cards:
Shuffle the other ones:
Put 8 on top of the Master Skill Cards:
Give each player a character card and then four character meeples in their color. Note that, again, this is a pre-release copy, so the meeples I have here are not the ones in the final version:
Shuffle the tiles up and make an arrangement:
- 2 players: Make a 4×4 grid, face-up. You’ll remove one of each tile type from the 20.
- 3+ players: Make a 5×4 grid, face-up.
Now, have each player place an animal on a spot on the grid, and you’re ready to start!
So, Folded Wishes is primarily an abstract strategy game. That means you should expect some sliding, some tile movement, and some piece placement and movement in this game. Your goal is to get your four pieces in a straight line by any means necessary. Horizontal, vertical, diagonal; any line is a good line, and you’re going for it. First player to do so wins!
You play the game over a series of turns, and your turns go like this:
- Place. Put your pattern tile adjacent to any row or column on the grid. If you still have animals in your supply, place one on the tile.
- Fold. You may perform any actions listen on your tile or matching Skills in any order.
- Push. Push the tile into the grid. This will cause a tile on the end of the row or column to become displaced. If there was an animal on that tile, move it to a currently-adjacent empty tile (including diagonals). If there is no such tile, return the animal to its owner.
- Take. Take the tile you pushed out. It will be your tile to place on your next turn.
- Learn. If you currently have animals in a configuration matching a Skill Card, you may take the Skill Card, revealing a new one from the deck when you do.
You may continue that until one player wins!
Play normally, but each team gets only one set of colors, you use a 4×4 grid instead (as you would in a two-player game) and players 3 and 4 each place an animal on an unoccupied tile during setup. It plays the same as normal, but you don’t share skills with your teammate.
Player Count Differences
I mean, the major difference is that the board is smaller at lower player counts. As with most abstracts that require a specific setup, it’s harder to win at higher player counts since there are more players that can gang up on you between your turn. Something that this game does that I appreciate it make it easy for players to accidentally set you up, though; it’s very easy to get into a position where you might be able to win on your next turn, since the board real estate is fairly limited (as only one animal can be on a spot). If you have the right skills, your opponent may very well give the game away unintentionally. That doesn’t happen as much at two players; you really need to make it hard for them to block you since you’re the only thing that they have to focus on. Either way, I wouldn’t say it takes much longer as you increase the player count due to that, so no real preference on player count for this one. I will say that I prefer other two-player abstracts, personally, so I probably wouldn’t play this one at two.
- Don’t focus too much on getting skills. They’re useful, but also kind of a distraction? I tend to think of them as a catch-up mechanism for players that aren’t getting closer to a line. If you get too many, you’re very flexible, but you’re also going to lose.
- Those swap tiles are pretty helpful in a pinch. They’re a great way to turn a situation around or to move an opponent’s animal very far away. Both are great uses of the tile.
- Crumple if you need to stop an opponent. You may need to move some of their animals far away if you hope to get another turn. Watch out for them setting themselves up!
- Corner folds might be able to set you up for a big win. If you can move and then push, you might be able to win on your turn if you already have the other three animals in position. That said, getting the other three animals in position is often much harder than it sounds.
- If you can’t get any closer to winning, getting a Skill is a decent consolation prize. It will give you extra help / flexibility; some even give you additional abilities when you play certain tiles. That can be a useful way to throw your opponents off guard and stay unexpected.
- It may be worth pushing the work for blocking an opponent off to another opponent, but be careful with that. This is a common problem in games; you can offload blocking a win to a player closer to that opponent. And that’s all well and good, if the next player knows that’s what you’re doing. If they don’t see that the opponent is about to win on their next turn, they might not prevent that and then you both lose. I generally note that that’s the price of doing that exact type of business, but players aren’t always super excited to see another player cause them to lose. This may also happen in a different way, where your opponent inadvertently sets up the player after them (not you) to win. It can be frustrating, but it happens.
- Forcing an opponent to take one of their pieces back is awesome, especially if they haven’t placed all four, yet. That will usually slow them down pretty aggressively, since now they’ll have to play two additional animals just to get back into the game.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- It does come with origami paper, which is nice if you want to fold your own pieces and have any skill at it whatsoever. I don’t. So, that’s not happening for me.
- Plays pretty quickly. An introductory game really maxes out at 20 minutes, and once you know the rules it’s definitely much easier to get through the game quickly, so, yeah, probably closer to 15.
- I like the way you earn skills. It gives players who are a bit farther from the victory condition something to do, which is nice. Just … don’t fixate on that or you’ll assuredly lose. Plus, any sort of tile-placement spatial reasoning game tends to be right up my alley.
- Cute art. It’s bright and colorful and for a game with a relatively small footprint looks good on the table.
- Making the starting pattern tiles double-sided is always an appreciated move. It makes them so much easier to find in a stack; I really love it when people do stuff like this for games.
- Most players get distracted trying to collect skills and then miss out on winning. I’ve watched this happen in a few games (to my benefit, to be fair); players will go after skills because they’re there and attractive and miss the obvious “Eric wins on the next turn” move. Which I’m totally fine with, by the way; they just tend to be displeased.
- It definitely helps if you’ve already played the game before. The tough part about using icons instead of text is that it makes the game harder to learn but easier to remember, in my experience. That’s just a tradeoff I’ve experienced in games, generally. A number of players noted this since all of the bonus actions are icons, so, they forget what a lot of things do. It doesn’t help that my copy of the game has some of the icons mixed up / not updated, but that’s the risk that you take with pre-release copies of anything.
- I’m inherently very suspicious of 4-player team variants. I think I just don’t personally like them; that’s not really a critique of this game, specifically, as much as it is an acknowledgement that I have some team-variant-related baggage. Thanks for reading!
- The theme and the gameplay don’t really engage with each other all that well. You’re just sorta pushing tiles around; there’s no real folding; there’s some abstract grid movement. I could potentially see the argument that you’re moving your tokens along the folds of well-known origami shapes, but I don’t think that plays out in practice. Though that does sound like an interesting game, now that I think about it. If you were robots moving different parts of conveyor belts around in a factory, I could see where the theme and the gameplay match up, but I’m not particularly feeling the connection, here.
- Very much the game where players conspiring can be frustrating. We’ve all been in the spot where player A has told player B “hey if you don’t block [player C], they win on their turn”, which is the annoying part about more-than-two-player abstract games. It’s more of a social problem inherent with these types of games than a problem with the game itself, per se, but I still think it’s worth mentioning since it’ll likely come up.
Overall: 7.25 / 10
Overall, I think Folded Wishes is pretty fun! It’s a very quick abstract, which occasionally will throw some players off. I try to remind people that, at the end of the day, it’s a 15-minute game where you’re trying to get four pieces in a row, and once you do that you win. What ends up happening more commonly is players try to go after skills and build up that engine, and before they can even get the engine built the game has ended. To that end, I think a minor complaint of mine is that the game seems to benefit experienced players to the detriment of novices, since they have a better sense of when and how to value skills that I haven’t always seen from newer players. I do like how Skills are organized, though; it’s reminiscent of Roam in a way that I like (and, as I’ve mentioned a dozen times, I’m all about those types of games). Beyond that, it’s a pretty game, but I can’t help but feel like the theme doesn’t really shine through in the gameplay. I get that folding is a fairly abstract concept to represent on a 2D level, but it doesn’t feel like it’s really coming through when I play. It feels more like a 2D abstract game, and that’s fine, but I would have liked to have seen more from it in that regard. It may also not be helping that my pieces are sort of random tokens with the correct color, but that’s the nature of the beast with these sorts of things. Either way, if you’re looking for a quick abstract or you love colorful games, you might like Folded Wishes! I’ve enjoyed my plays of it.