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Freshwater Fly Preview

Quick Look:

Designer: Brian Suhre
Artists: Darryl T. Jones
Publisher: Bellwether Games
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 1-4
Ages: 14+
Playing Time: 40-90 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Freshwater Fly. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.


If you like Coldwater Crown, then you will love Freshwater Fly.  The game is different, but includes all the things I love in Coldwater Crown. I love how the mechanics match the theme, the components are top notch, and the game  is simple, complex, and allows many different strategies to catch fish and gain points.

Getting the Game:
Freshwater Fly is a dice drafting game where you will select a dice from the dice pool and use it with one of the selected actions. You will cast, reel, or increase you finesse. High numbered dice will help you earn more powerful action, while low numbered dice can help you win bonus turns.  After all the dice have been selected, the river moves and the dice are re-rolled.  The game ends when a player catches 7 fish.

Playing the Game:
After setup of the game you will be able to see available fish to catch on the game board, hatch tokens that were drawn from the bag along the side of the board, and a section that includes momentum tiles,  achievements, and the fish deck to fill in empty spaces on the board.

The goal in the game is to gain the most points from fish and achievements than all the other players. The game is played over rounds which won't end until a player catches 7 fish. Once that is done, the game is over and players will count up their points. A round ends when the final dice from the dice pool has been selected and used.

In a 2-3 player game 7 dice will be rolled to start the round, in a 4-player game 9 dice are rolled.  When it is your turn you will select one of these dice. The number will correspond with your chosen action. You can 1. Cast, 2. Reel, or 3. move your finesse token up 2.

1. Cast
When casting you will first choose where your first landing will be by placing the casting token on one of the cards that matches the number on the die you choose. If the token is on a fish card and there are 1 or more hatch tokens that match your fly token color, you will earn 1 strike card. If there was no hatch tokens that match your fly token color, you will earn zero strike cards and the casting token will drift downstream.

At the beginning of your turn the player to your right will shuffle the 4 strike cards and whenever you say "hit me" they will  deal one of the strike tokens to the table for each strike earned. Whenever the revealed strike card shows a fish then you "hooked a fish". If the revealed card shows a fly and hook, you did not hook a fish.

If you did not hook a fish on your first landing you will drift and move the casting token twice or until you hook a fish. You can move the casting token one space away either diagonally or orthogonally from your previous spot. Every time you drift onto a fish card, examine the hatch tokens in the column. If one matches your fly color you will earn 2 strike cards otherwise you will earn zero strike cards.

Immediately when you hook a fish, pick up the fish from under the casting token, flip it over, and place it directly above the matching section of your reel board. For example, if the fish is the yellow type you will place it above the yellow space of the reel board.

If the fish was adjacent to a rock, take the top rock card and place it next to your player area. This card will give you bonuses to help you win the game.

2. Reel
Now that you hooked a fish you need to reel it in. When first hooking a fish your reel will start in the start space which is the space at 12 o'clock. You will be spinning your reel clockwise each time you choose the reel action. To determine the number of spaces you move your reel you will compare the number of your dice that you have chosen and subtract the fish strength listed on the top left of that fish card. You will then move your reel that many spaces. If the fish number is greater to or equal than your die number, you will not spin the reel.

There are 5 different reel spaces, whenever the reel land on one of them, you must immediately take the action shown.
1. 12 o'clock space
Whenever land on or pass this section you will move your fish one section to the left. For example, if you are in the yellow section, you will move it to the gray section. If or when the fish is in the green section and the pass the space, you have caught the fish. You will move your fish card to the score pile and remove the hatch token from your spinner and place it in your score pile as well.
2. 2/3 o'clock space
Take a drag token from your board and cover the fish number on the fish card with it. This fish's number is now a zero until you catch it.
3. 5 o'clock space
Take one of the available momentum tiles and place it in your play area. If you already have a momentum you can choose to either flip your tile to the opposite side, or take no action.
4. 7 o'clock space
Move your finesse token one space to the right on your finesse track.
5. 10/11 o'clock space
Examine the color of your fish. If it's a green fish then move the reel ahead 1 space to the 12 o'clock space and catch your fish. If it is a yellow fish, move the reel back one space and take the finesse action. If it is a black fish, take no action.

Finesse +2
Choose a die and increase your finesse by 2. The die's number doesn't impact how much finesse you gain. You can never gain more than 4 finesse.

You can take multiple bonus actions on your turn, but each bonus action is limited in a unique way.

1. Finesse actions.
This action can be taken before or after your dice action, or in some cases to modify your dice action. You can take as many finesse actions as you have available on your finesse track but some actions can only be done when your finesse token is in a certain area.

2. Momentum actions.
Momentum actions can be taken before or after your dice action. You can only take the action shown on the face up side of the momentum tile in your player area. When using the action you will return the momentum tile and flip it over to the opposite side. You can only play one momentum tile per turn.

3. Skill actions.
Any rock card with a left-side border will show a skill action you can take. These can be taken before or after your dice action unless stated otherwise. The skill actions will remain available throughout the game unless noted. To take a skill action you will reduce your finesse by the amount shown on the upper left corner of the card, if no amount is shown, the action is free.

The round ends when the final die from the dice pool has been selected and used. The end of the game occurs when a player reaches 7 caught fish. At that time, players will move to scoring. Each fish has a point value associated with it. These points are counted up and added to the points gained by general and personal achievements. The player with the most points wins the game.

Artwork and Components:
I love the art for all the fish. They also did a great job with having a variety of fish on the cards. The icons will all eventually make sense after playing the game, but you will have to look them up when first playing. The cast token is awesome, its a big wooden cylinder used to keep track of where your fly is and where it drifts to. The hatch tokens are all mace of wood as well and have a great touch to them. The game is very well made.  The reel board is made of thick cardboard with a nice reel spinner to keep track of what action you are on.

The Good:
The game keeps the theme accurate. Hooking the fish is the easier task, but reeling them in takes a little more time. You are able to reel in the fish faster and more efficiently when you use your bonus actions. You can change the fish's strength to reel in faster, or do extra actions that will help you move your reel around enough to catch the fish.  On your turn you don't have much choice if you are casting or reeling, but you have the choice on how you cast, and how you reel. Momentum tiles will also help you "break" normal rules and give you advantages. I love the 4 card mechanic that gives you chances to catch a fish when first casting, but then giving you an increased chance when drifting. Planning involves the hatch tokens, and the dice available to use.

The Bad:
The dice can be very restricting when planing on actions and fish you want to go for. There is no way to change the dice unless you have a momentum tile or rock card to let you do so. This gets better as the game goes on because you will be collecting these as you play, but it makes it hard to do things at the beginning of the game.  Just like Coldwater crown, I feel like there needs to be an expansion included, but I'm not quit sure what it would be. I just feel like there is a missing mechanic missing to help with the complexity of the game and ways to gain points.

Final Thoughts:
I'm super excited for this game to come out, as you feel the theme in playing the game. The cast is fast and short, reeling in the fish can be long and exhausting if you get a good strong fish this can take several turns. I love how the mechanics match the theme, the components are top notch, and the game  is simple, complex, and allows many different strategies to catch fish and gain points. If you like Coldwater Crown, then you will love Freshwater Fly!

Check out Freshwater Fly on:


Freshwater Fly is on KICKSTARTER between now and April 25, 2019.

Brody Sheard - Reviewer

Brody Sheard played board games with his large family growing up. He continues with his love of games by teaching his family, local gaming guild, and friends about new and exciting games. Brody believes that board gaming keeps your mind healthy while also having fun interacting with others.

See Brody's reviews HERE.
Freshwater Fly Preview Freshwater Fly Preview Reviewed by Brody on March 28, 2019 Rating: 5

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