Game review: Operation F.A.U.S.T. is a spirited pursuit for fine art full of bluffing and deduction
Posted May 11, 2016
The card game Operation F.A.U.S.T. (Fine Art Underground: Stolen Treasures) by Grey Fox Games puts players in the roles of art patrons seeking art treasures in France during World War II. To win, a player must collect $1,000,000 worth of paintings.
The background of the game is rich in detail and takes place during a period of history when Europe's greatest art treasures were at risk of being looted by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), a special unit of the Third Reich that was intent on plundering Europe's most valuable artwork.
To start the game, players receive two plot cards and five INTEL tokens. Plot cards allow players to take on certain roles in the game, including using an accompanying ability. INTEL tokens can be used to purchase a variety of things in the game.
In addition, an art cache is created by drawing four cards from the art deck. These cards remain face down and are available to any player who can purchase them. These art cards contain a piece of artwork with an attached value. Collect $1,000,000 worth of art cards and win.
When a player takes a turn, he or she has the option of taking one of four different actions. A plot action allows a player to claim an ability featured on one of the plot cards in his or her possession. Plot cards feature different characters such as an art dealer, spy, Allied soldiers or double agents. For example, an art dealer allows a player to swap one of his or her art treasures with the treasure from another player.
Players can bluff by claiming a card that is not in their possession when declaring what ability they are taking. If challenged on a claim, a player shows the appropriate card and takes half of the opposing player's INTEL tokens and continues taking the action. If the player cannot produce a plot card with a claimed ability, he or she must pay the opposing player half of his or her INTEL tokens and lose that turn.
The second action that can be taken is to purchase a work of art. This costs a player 10 INTEL points. The card is drawn from one of the four pieces of art in the art cache. That empty space in the cache is then filled by a new art card.
A recruit action allows a player to purchase a new plot card and costs four INTEL tokens. Depending on the number of players, there is a limit on the number of plot cards that can be owned by each player. Some abilities on a plot card can only be played once and the plot card is then discarded.
The fourth and final action that can be taken is to purchase a forged document card. Often when a player purchases a work of art, it is a forgery and will not count towards victory. However if a player can purchase a forgery card, it then allows a forged painting to count towards victory.
As soon as a player accumulates $1,000,000 worth of paintings, a public declaration is made. That player then displays his or her cards and claims victory.
The game is quite fun as players try to deduce which art cards are the most valuable and which ones are mere forgeries. A bluffing element comes into play as players try to take the actions they need to regardless of whether they actually have the right card. The important thing is to just not get caught.
The game accommodates from three to eight players and takes about 30 minutes. It is a fun game that would work great at a party or family gathering. Find out more at GreyFoxGames.