Designer: Mike Cal Cahalan
Publisher: Die Bad Die Games
Year Published: 2021
Franco is an aging stunt daredevil. He wants to jump 10 more years and retire on top. His close associates include his trusty mechanic, his unethical doctor, and his gold-digging girlfriend. And there are also side-betting spectators.
Franco earns money and glory from completing jumps. The other players earn money from the cards they play. Every player has their own agenda. So the game can change from a co-op game to a screw-your-neighbor game in a second.
Each player has their own deck of cards and play cards during a turn. The cards might earn you money, or affect the next jump, or help/harm another player. Some cards are LD cards and laid down and then have benefits for every turn. The most important card is a players Hold card. It is placed face down and is a player’s end-game strategy. Are you betting on Franco landing a great jump, or trying to profit from his fiery death.
Every few turns/seasons Franco will perform a jump. It could be a luck jump by rolling a die, or a skill (dexterity) jump by sliding his vehicle token up a ramp and onto a target. Bad jump landings result in damage to Franco’s vehicle and injuries to himself. His mechanic will need money to repair Franco’s vehicles, and his doctor will try to double bill for any hospital visits.
Each turn is a season of the year. So a game could last all 40 turns/seasons. However, the game could end abruptly if Franco dies or is forced into retirement because of excessive injuries. When the game ends, the player with the most money or glory wins.
As a young snot nose kid who performed death defying fetes of jumping over my sister with my
BMX bike with two rickety made 2×4 plywood ramps, I could instantly wrap my trembling hands
around this one. Fearless Franco the Board Game is one of those unique games that does not fit
within the norm that tends to come from today’s mainstream game designers. The innocence of
introducing mechanics where they may not seem to fit on paper perform perfectly in delivering the
theme game designer Mike Cal Cahalan intended.
The elements contained in the original box extends the theme of game play perfectly with the
introduction of an (optional) dexterity mechanic that will intrigue even the most lethargic of players.
You can’t not (yes a double negative in a review – fits the theme) help yourself trying to fling Ol’Franco over the ramp to score a perfect landing! The game comes with a self constructing cardboard ramp and all standard items for a card playing, dice rolling, help or stab-your-fellow players-in-the-back game mechanics.
Setup is fairly well developed with specific spots on a standard fold out board to place the elements on and around with designation spots for key cards and tokens. This one to nine (yes nine) player hoot introduces four main characters you play via cards and actions consisting of Fearless Franco himself, the nightmare girlfriend, a overprescribing med doctor, and an overcharging mechanic. The remaining five to nine players are creatively developed to be spectators to those jumps, providing not only a uniquely rare game mechanic of betting on the results of game play, but can contribute to the heckling with Jeff Foxworthy “redneck” like comments throughout the night.
The game play consists of a set number of years broken out by seasons. This gives that same feeling of excitement like Robbie Knievel overly hyped jumps televised back in the day, giving us all just another reason to gather with a beverage and chips to watch someone do something crazy (Pre-youtube). Each of the four main characters chose a card from their limited hands on each round and simultaneously flop them on the table all with the goal of manipulating and gaining cash or glory. The objective swings between the themed characters attributes of healing Franco (Doc), Fixing his jump vehicles (Mechanic), or manipulation for childcare and materialistic wants (Girlfriend). They all syphon cash from the pockets and bank account of Franco as he continues to make these dextrous jumps to earn the money and glory avoiding injury or vehicle breakdown.
Upon completing the jump either through the provided jump kit and landing mat or by luck of rolling a die to determine the outcome (for the flinging-impaired), the turn ends and a new season begins. This process continues with bribery, theft, and intimidation by the payers until Franco either reaches a graceful retirement, is forced into retirement by too many injuries, or “bites the big one, Poops the bed, becomes worm food, you get the point. R.I.P. Franco and the game ends. All players including the spectators total up their money after cashing in their glory to determine the winner. The player with the most money at the end wins this mess yet well designed stunt man game.
The highlight that must be mentioned that is not only refreshing to existing gamers, but to new gamers you bring to your table, is the ability throughout the game for constant play by all.
There is rarely a time that each player is sitting waiting for their turn. Constant play drives excitement especially for new gamers and gives a sense of participation even in a competitive, cut-throat game like Fearless Franco. You can feel comfortable inviting that edgy gaming friend or freaky family member over and they will surely partake in this one.
Learning the game takes less than one turn or 4 seasons ensuring everyone will be fully engaged early in the game play. As this game is in early production and development, the rulebook is defiantly in 1.0 mode. The addition of setup pics and token identification are needed and some areas of game mechanic details are vague that often comes from assumptions of actions that most of the time need to be described and hand-held for first time readers at the game table. I am confident 2.0 will be or is already in development to ensure these vague areas of play will be modified in the next print run.
Whether Evil Knievel or Daredevil, like Kirk or Picard, it was easy to take a side as a kid and in Fearless Franco you get that opportunity once again. The game felt like playing hot wheels as a kid but with side bets or a morbid comparison to the game Operation using dice rather than electrified tongs. If you love a non-traditional, constant play, character focused games, you will pop a wheelie over this one.
P.S. I played the first game in nothing but that Kickstarter exclusive thong. (Not including images of this, so we don’t scare you away from future reviews) The wife loved it, my kids however….scared for life!
Shane “Bogue” Bogardus- Reviewer
Lol! Why not a pet Meeple instead of a ferret 🙂
He passed away -hit by a bus 🚌 bound for GenCon in’03:)