Full disclosure: A review copy of 5er Finden was provided by HABA.
I guess this would have been Gen Con time, ish. That’s disappointing, but, not much you can do with a global pandemic. I actually do like Gen Con a fair bit; it appeals to my distinct love for high-energy situations. Don’t love everyone’s hygiene choices, but that’s partially because I got some dude’s sweat all over my arm once and I’m still Relatively Haunted By That. It’s fun to be able to see all my friends and their cool booths and products and occasionally run into folks, even if I barely sleep and live, to paraphrase John Mulaney, like a Ninja Turtle for a week. Either way, I think 5er Finden was supposed to be one of HABA’s Gen Con releases, so let’s push those feelings about not being able to leave our house down deep and read about a new game, instead! That’s healthy.
5er Finden, like many games I review on this site, doesn’t have much in the way of lore or narrative for players to hook into, so that always makes this part of the review kind of challenging. Instead, let me briefly describe the gameplay. Players will be tasked with quickly finding up to five “Fives”, and outlining them for points. The more complex the shape, generally, the more points you’ll earn. Just make sure you don’t make any mistakes! For the more puzzley fans, there’s also a bonus Puzzle Mode! Will you be able to find five fastest?
Very little. You’ll want to give each player a board:
If you use the white side, the boards are different, and if you use the gray side, the boards are the same. Worth noting. Give each player a marker, and then set out the dice:
Finally, set out the scoreboard:
You’ll use the scoring side for the standard game and the quadrant side for the Puzzle Game:
Set the tiles nearby:
Set out the timer and you should be ready to start!
If you want to play Puzzle Mode, use the other side instead:
5er Finden has two distinct gameplay modes, which does make it a bit annoying to review, but out of a distinct love for you, the readers, and also for the concept of Due Diligence, I’ve outlined both below.
One common term I’ll be using is a Five, which refers to a group of five orthogonally-connected squares with symbols matching the five visible faces of the five dice you roll. The game is really into fives, conceptually, so just work with me on this one. Let’s see how it plays!
The standard game is pretty straightforward; it’s fives almost all the way down. In a given round, you’ll start by rolling the five dice. If you see three of the same face visible, reroll until you don’t.
Once you’ve finalized the roll, you start immediately! Your goal is to outline up to five different Fives on the board, with a few rules:
- You may only use any given shape once.
- You cannot touch the tiles. They’re for reference.
- You cannot have Fives overlap. They can be adjacent to each other, though.
If you’ve got five or you feel like you’ve done all you can, flip the timer. You can no longer edit your board, but the other player(s) have until time runs out to finish. Then check! Each correct Five is worth the number of points on its tile.
If you outlined too many Fives, you must get down to five by eliminating your highest-value Fives first. Cruel, but fair. If you drew invalid ones, just erase them. Total your score, add one point if you were the player to flip the timer, and then clear your board for another round!
Repeat this for five rounds. Keep in mind that your tile score is doubled in the fifth round (you still only get one point for flipping the timer). The player with the most total points after the fifth round wins!
Puzzle Mode is a bit more complicated. This one takes place over 12 rounds, rather than 5. In each round, you roll the dice until you get a valid set of five (again, three of a kind get rerolled). This time, instead of searching for up to five valid Fives, you only need to find one; then you can flip the timer. When you do, color in one of the circles on your quadrant of the center board.
After the round, check: if your Five is invalid, erase it and then choose a Five from your quadrant of the center board and outline it on your board, then cross it out. Why? Because after every round, you no longer erase your board. It’s like a little legacy puzzle game! Each round, you have to try to find a new Five you haven’t outlined before. At the end of the game, score each of the Fives you outlined successfully over the course of the game, and the player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
Hardly any, to be honest. The only player interaction is when someone chooses to flip the timer, and that largely doesn’t change much with player count, since only one player can do it. At higher player counts, I suppose it’s more likely to be spread around a bit more, since multiple players have some probability of grabbing that timer before anyone else. But it likely depends on your gaming group. Beyond that, though, I wouldn’t say player count matters too much, so I enjoy this game at any player count!
- Keep in mind that certain choices you make on your board will block other choices. There’s a very interesting problem that can emerge where, in an attempt to score a 4-point Five, you block yourself from scoring two 3-point Fives. That’s obviously bad, so make sure that you’re not taking a short-term win for a long-term loss.
- Also keep in mind which Fives score you the most points. It’s just useful to know which tiles are which, and since you can’t pick them up, maybe take a chance to familiarize yourself with them before the round starts? I’ve definitely confused some of the 2-point tiles and some of the 3-point tiles during rounds, and I could have done better.
- For Puzzle Mode, you do want to try and get certain Fives early, but some Fives are much easier to get in certain locations than others. This is, obviously, the crux of the game, but it’s still worth thinking about how to lay out your board so that you can maximize your overall point total. This usually means trying to minimize gaps between your Fives, if you can. A few blocks are okay, but as the game progresses it might be worth taking a slightly lower-value Five this round in the hopes that you can leave more space for you to capitalize on in subsequent rounds.
- If you’re not sure what to do, grabbing the timer may be your best move. It’s a decent move since it gets you a free extra points, but it does come with a decent set of drawbacks.
- That said, if you do grab the timer, you lock down your board, so, make sure you’re comfortable with the score you’re going to get. This is the big problem. Once you take the timer, everyone else gets to go on without you! If they score big, you will really have screwed yourself over a bit with your single point grab. Gotta think about the long-term.
- Don’t make any invalid Fives! This is, in my opinion, a fairly straightforward piece of advice, but it bears repeating. Even I do it from time to time.
- Also don’t outline too many! Haste, in general, makes waste. This is a pretty easy one to avoid if you remember to check before you flip the timer or just keep track on your board of how many you’ve checked off. Just kinda tally mark it or something if you can’t keep track in your head.
- For the standard game, if you’re going to go hard, go for it in the fifth round! Your tile scores are doubled. You really need to make sure that you can score as many points as possible so that you can get the boost, otherwise you’re going to be left behind by all the other players.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Bright colors! It does look rather nice on the table, even though it’s a fairly small game.
- Low-effort setup! You kind of just take everything out and you’re essentially ready to go.
- I appreciate how many different modules there are. You can basically play anything two ways: different boards, or the same board for all players. And then there’s the Standard Game and the Puzzle Game on top of that. For a small game, it’s got a fair amount of punch behind it!
- Plays quickly as well. Both modules are pretty fast, which isn’t surprising given their low overhead to get started.
- The puzzle mode is delightfully hard. It is a very challenging game! I suppose it makes sense to optimize for trying to get your highest-value Fives early enough, but if you only optimize for score and not placement you risk cutting yourself off entirely. It’s a challenging dilemma and it really works! Like I joked earlier, it’s a mini-Legacy game sort of feeling.
- If you’re playing with the gray side of the board, you could theoretically just look at the other player’s board to see what Fives you’re missing. Naturally, the fix for this is don’t play with cheaters, but the opportunity for this does lightly frustrate me. Oh well.
- If the game is going to give me a bunch of loose pieces, the least they could do is give me a few baggies to hold them that I can reseal. Thankfully, I have my own handy, but you need one for the dice and another for the tiles, minimum. If you don’t like loose markers you might need one for those, too.
- Honestly, given the contents, an insert would have been helpful. That’s not really what HABA does, in my experience, but it would have been nice. Something for the markers, the dice, and the tiles.
- Including two different shades of blue is kind of a pain, even for players without any color vision issues. It’s just an odd choice, in my opinion, similar to how there are two similar diamond shapes. Having distinctly-named things or distinct shapes would make the game a bit quicker, but that wasn’t what they went for, I suppose.
- If you don’t like speed games or pattern-recognition games, this game will certainly not be for you. That’s the core of this one; you’re scanning the board as quickly as you can to find a shape made of squares that works for you. That’s challenging but not everyone’s particular cup of tea. It’s definitely mine, but given the high potential for this particular thing to aggravate players I’m listing it as a con. It’s more of a potential con.
Overall: 8.25 / 10
Overall, I think 5er Finden is a blast! I mean, pretty specifically, it’s my kind of game. I love speedy pattern-recognition games, and adding the roll and write elements to it really adds another fun dimension to it for me. It’s similar to Karuba: The Card Game: it’s fun, quick, and plays with an element I really like in larger games. For KTCG, it’s path-building; for 5er, it’s pattern recognition. I really enjoy it! It’s fairly well made, as well. Dry-erase boards with both same and different sides, and decent-quality markers to boot. It’s a good overall package. I will freely admit that this game (honestly, this style of game) isn’t my top recommendation to introduce to new players; it’s very easy for a player who’s skilled or experienced with this sort of thing to thoroughly trounce new players, which isn’t any fun. I have a few games like this; generally, in simpler times I would teach the game to folks and then leave them to play a few games of it before I’d hop in. I think that works well for this type of game, even if it’s a bit logistically impossible to host game night in my current locale. Either way, if you’re looking for something quick, speedy, and fun, or you want to still go fast but don’t mind some challenging puzzle elements, I’ve had a lot of fun with 5er Finden!