I’m a sucker for theme park building games. I have so many great memories growing up of visiting Six Flags and Disney World. Rollercoaster Tycoon was a big part of my PC gaming as a kid. In Funfair from Good Games Publishing, players build theme parks that draw in crowds and money each round of the game. The question is, does this game scratch that theme park building itch?
Let’s Build a Theme Park
In Funfair up to 4 players begin the game with a Main Gate card, a hand of 5 park cards, 30 dollars and an unconstructed showcase card. Each of the 6 rounds of the game begin by revealing a city card. These city cards give each player a perk to begin the round. This can be additional money, new park cards, bonuses or even discounts during that specific round.
A rollercoaster token tracks the 3 actions that players will take during a round. Players can draft park cards from the market board, purchase/install a card into your park, collect pocket change from your park, demolish an attraction or claim a blueprint card. As players build their park tableau in front of them, their rides will become more valuable based on the number of stars and card symbols.
Funfair gives players goals that can be met through blueprint cards. Taking blueprint cards early in the game give players specifics they can build their park around. If a player doesn’t meet the goal on these cards, they’ll receive negative points at the end of the game.
Putting the “Theme” in Theme Park
Different rides and features in the park can contain any of the 4 themes which include Fairytale, Robot, Pirate or Jungle. Themes can be mixed and added to rides to give your visitors a unique ride experience. Each ride in Funfair can earn end game points based on the number of symbols attached to the ride. Adding plush seating and air conditioning to the Haunted House will give you more end game points and can make additional money based on the number of stars on the cards.
Outside of the players Main Gate, they can hire staff that give perks and can bring even more visitors to your park. Collecting cards that play off the same theme or ride type can give players a big boost and fund the building of future rides.
Each player is given a “showcase” card at the start of the game. These are the most exciting and action packed rides in the game. Each contain a different theme and give the player an additional action during the park phase after they are built. These showcase cards are an expensive build at $20. Players who choose not to build their showcase will be given an additional $5 during the guest step at the end of each round.
Funfair is broken down into easy to follow steps that lead players through each round. The basics of the game are simple to teach and really appeal to gaming with younger or newer gamers. The city cards easily show you how many rounds are left in the game, the rollercoaster token shows what step everyone is on and player aid cards are very well laid out.
This is a light strategy game that gives players plenty of options without being overwhelming. It’s a game that can easily make it to the table during a weeknight or after work. I really enjoy finding combinations that allow for cheaper buildings or collecting more cards during a turn. Players can choose to build complicated rides for big end game points or build their limit of 5 different rides with lots of variety.
Familiar, but Better
I absolutely love the artwork in this game. The husband and wife team of Mr. Cuddington did an awesome job bringing a bright and fun theme to Funfair. You may say “I’ve seen this artwork before”. That’s correct. Funfair is a follow up to a 2017 release called Unfair that was funded through Kickstarter.
I contributed to that Kickstarter back in 2016 and couldn’t wait to play Unfair when it arrived. The game was filled with wonderful art, lots of card combinations and was sure to feed my need for theme park building. Unfortunately, Unfair proved to be one of the more disappointing games in my collection.
Unfair has only hit the table over the years because I kept trying to like the game. As you may guess from the name, Unfair was all about building your theme park with disastrous events just over the horizon. The game had 8 rounds, 4 of which were fairly straight-forward and positive while the last 4 had backstabbing and unforeseen disasters ruining your park. The random penalties, tight finances and fiddley gameplay kept this game off the table during game nights.
For our family, Funfair is a much better fit than Unfair was. Part of the original appeal of Unfair is the ability to mix and match the 6 themes that come in the original game. You can also buy expansions that bring more unique rides and synergies with the other themes. This is the one thing Unfair did so well! But, I couldn’t look past the issues in the main game.
Worth the Price of Admission
Now to answer my original question. Does this game scratch that theme park building itch? Kind of.
We’ve played Funfair half a dozen times already. I’ve seen all the cards in the game but still have lots of ride combinations to try. The mix and match nature of the original Unfair is something that this game would absolutely benefit from. My hope is that Funfair sales are good enough that expansions would be a possibility.
I would love a theme park building game with some deeper strategy, but that means it might not be a good fit for gaming with the kids. Funfair succeeds in being fun and using its theme well. Being “fun” is where its predecessor failed at in my opinion. While Funfair isn’t perfect, it’s going to be a hit for families looking for an accessible tableau building game with excellent components. It’s definitely a game that’s earned a spot on our family game shelf.
You can find a copy of Funfair at your local game store or purchase the game through Amazon today.
This game was provided to us by the publisher for review. Read more about our review policies at One Board Family.
Artwork, components, cards, all top-notch
Gameplay really leans into the theme park building feel
Money feels plentiful there are lots of combos to execute