“Working hard, or hardly working?”
You hate office small talk, but this question is the worst. Today it’s especially grating, because after months of “hardly working,” the reckoning is finally here: you must sort all these files before the end of the day if you want to keep your job. So grab your candy dish and fire up your coffee maker. You won’t be going home until you’re finished.
How It Works
Finished! is a solitaire hand-management/deck-sorting puzzle game. The goal is to sort the deck in ascending order from 1-48 before you run out of coffee.
To begin. set aside card 48 and thoroughly shuffle the other cards. You receive a number of candy pieces and cups of coffee to your stock according the difficulty you’ve chosen; the other candy pieces form a supply, and the remaining cups of coffee are returned to the box.
On a turn, you follow a number of steps. First, you place the top three cards of the deck into the active area. If any of these cards show the candy symbol, you receive one piece of candy from the supply. Next, if any of these cards are next in line to be scored (starting with 1 and ascending to 48), place the card in the score pile and draw a new card to the active area. Repeat getting candy/scoring cards for each new card drawn this way. Then you may take card actions.
Card actions cost a piece of candy each, which is placed on the card to show that action has been used (it may not be used again this turn). Card actions include things like drawing more cards, drawing cards and putting cards back on the deck, moving cards to your past work area or your future work area, retrieving cards from your past work area, or placing active cards on the bottom of the deck. The goal is to sort the deck for scoring.
After you are done with actions, you sort the cards in the active work area in the order of your choice and moves them to the past work area, in order at the end of the line. If there are more than three cards in the past work area, cards are put on the bottom of the deck starting with the card at the front of the past work area line until there are only three cards in the past work area. If any cards are in the future area, these move down to the present area. Otherwise, the player draws three cards and follows the steps above.
Whenever you move card 48 from the present area to the past area, you must spend one cup of coffee.
The game ends when either card 48 is in the score pile (the player wins!) or the player must move card 48 to the past area and has no cups of coffee remaining (the player loses).
All Done for the Day, or Working Overtime?
Finished! is almost brazenly a game that isn’t for everyone. First, it’s a solitaire game. Second, the theme, such as it is–sorting files at work–is so tedious you almost fall asleep while talking about it. And it’s also not a solitaire-game snack: Finished! can take upwards of one hour to play. Yet despite all these reasons not to love it, I find myself almost compulsively playing it.
Finished! is almost zen-like to play. Just as tedious tasks at work can sometimes result in entering the flow–where time no longer seems to matter, where you are at your most productive–sorting file cards, for whatever reason, produces that same kind of sensation for me.
Part of what makes Finished! so engaging is that it taps into the natural human impulse to bring order to chaos. You are presented with a randomized deck of cards and tasked with putting it back in order. I don’t know if this falls into the category of “the life-changing magic of tidying up,” but a similar feeling is at work. Another part of what makes Finished! almost zen-like has to do with the mental engagement this puzzle produces. I know–sorting files at work is often a mindless task. But here, the arbitrary goal–sort these forty-eight cards in ascending order–is almost beside the point. You’ve been set a task, and you’ve got to get it done. This is where the special actions come in handy.
Each card in the deck has a special power of some kind–either providing candy or allowing you to spend that candy to manipulate the order of the cards in the deck in some way. Your first trip through the deck is like a fact-finding mission. You can sort some–you are always allowed to sort the cards in your active work area before placing them in your past work area–but mostly you’re trying to find out just what a mess you’re in. Once you know more or less the composition of your deck, the task is getting cards into proper clusters that can be sorted appropriately.
There’s some element of memory in the game. No, you don’t have to count cards, but it’s helpful to remember, I think I had the 18 and 19 close to the 20 at some point, or My low numbers are near the end of the deck–is there a way to float them closer to the front so I can score more cards on this trip through my deck? Again, counting cards isn’t necessary, but vague knowledge of what’s ahead can help you to prudently choose which powers to activate and when. All of the special powers in the game are useful situationally; the trick is recognizing the situation you’re in and using your powers to their full advantage.
Even if you don’t sort your deck fully, it’s helpful to sort cards in clusters, because every time you move a cluster of three or more cards from your active area to your past work area, you get a candy bonus. This may not seem like much, but the more candy you have, the more special powers you can activate.
It’s tempting to spend all your candy early on, but rationing candy–in this game and in life–is an important skill. Eating all your candy in one go might produce an initial sugar high and boost of productivity, but you’ll be dragging without a caffeine boost or another sugar shot. And yes, I’m speaking about the game here. It can be excruciating to watch card actions pass you by because you wasted your candy earlier. I like this aspect of resource management.
Finished! strikes just the right balance between being simple enough to be relaxing but engaging enough to produce that feeling of flow. Again, when I play this game, it’s hard to describe, but I am so fully engaged in the task that I almost don’t realize how much time has passed.
And the time, really, is the biggest negative about Finished! It seems like it should be a quick game–you’re just sorting a deck of cards and have at most eight rounds to do so–but it isn’t. While my games are getting faster, I’m not sure they’ll get much faster than 40-45 minutes. It takes that long if you don’t just randomly move cards and activate powers. Usually travel-size solitaire games seem like the way to pass a few minutes, but Finished! is more of a full solitaire game in a small package. My first game, surprisingly, took me an hour to play. Each game after that, as I’ve become familiar with powers, has gotten a little faster, but it seems to me like I might have reached the time plateau. So do be aware of the time required before you sit down to play. (Although it’s easy to “save” your game. You might forget your card clusters, though.)
The other negatives are a matter of taste, as I said. The theme will be unattractive to some people (although the lighthearted artwork on the cards–which, when sorted, produces a flipbook!–does alleviate any stressful connotations). The fact that this can only be played solitaire might be another strike against it. And randomization of the deck can be a factor. I remember when I used to play Free Cell on the computer, some games were much harder to win than others, and there wasn’t any guarantee that a game was winnable. The same is true here: with a truly randomized deck, there’s no guarantee that the game is winnable at the difficulty you choose. For some, this can make the whole experience an exercise in futility. But I don’t mind this: the activity is a nice way to unwind, even without certainty of victory.
The components here are nice. The candy pieces and coffee cups are chunky wooden bits, and the cards are sturdy. I like the long and lean cards, and they shuffle well, although the size is odd enough to defy sleeving (if that’s important to you). The box is very small but also bigger than it needs to be, although it does work as a sorting tray for candy/coffee stock and score pile so you can play on soft surfaces. (I’ve played most of my games of Finished! either in bed or on the couch.) Finished! doesn’t require a lot of space as long as you organize your cards right, and the setup time is nil. I view that as a huge plus.
Friedemann Friese is known for his often quirky and off-the-wall ideas, and while Finished! isn’t his quirkiest offering, I imagine it will be just as much of a niche product. But I am squarely in the niche here, and I have greatly enjoyed my time with Finished! (even though I have only won on the two easiest settings, and there are four levels of difficulty). If you are looking for a solitaire game and like interesting puzzles, look past the the “day at work” theme–Finished! is for you.
iSlaytheDragon would like to thank Stronghold Games for providing us with a copy of Finished! for review.