This has been an exciting year for us at Smunchy games. In March, Fray successfully funded on Kickstarter in just 45 minutes. Recently, our backers received the game, and if they ordered them, the playmats. It was awesome to see people get to play it themselves, and share their experiences with the game.
Then, our friend Leo one-upped me with a jaw-dropping kickstarter for Parselings which was funded in 12 minutes. Now that that’s over, and he’s gone back to work on more Parselings content for you all, I wanted to share a bit more about what our team is doing next—Fray: Journey Into the Tassradan Trail—our first expansion! It was the perfect place to set this expansion given some of the mechanics I wanted to explore in it. Tassradan is a lush jungle filled with perils and one must be quick to avoid them, after all. But first, for anyone new—what’s Fray?
Fray is a Card Game
That about sums it up, actually. At its core, Fray is a simple card game wherein players really only need to consider a single number. If the one they play is higher than those next to it, they get to take those cards. But, of course, it’s not so easy. This is a deceptively strategic game where not only what card you play, but also where you play it on the 3×3 grid truly matters.
It’s best learned if you can see how it works. When we released the original set, The Dice Tower kindly produced a fantastic little “how to play” video, which you can check out if you would like to learn more.
What’s are expansions like, then? When we designed Fray, we knew that we wanted to use it as a way to further explore the world of Adia and figure out how different groups might play the game. Each expansion is effectively it’s own game, and drastically changes the way you play it. You don’t have to own old sets of Fray to play the new ones, either. They’re just new ways to play the game and explore the setting.
For example, we explored a lot of effects in the original set around drawing cards and bending the rules around when you can or can’t play. The Tassradan Trail will feature two entirely new mechanics: movement and damage. Let’s go through the full list of effects in The Tassradan Trail so you can see what’s in the box.
1: Cenzai Artisan
“Draw a card. If you have Moved a unit this turn, draw two cards instead.”
Like in the original version of Fray, each number has the name effect regardless of its suit, so we’ll just show one of each to keep things brief here. Yet, this first one has a few things that need explaining. First, anyone who has played Fray will understand the value of drawing a card, which is not something you are normally able to do—and this card lets you draw twice! The number one cards are not very strong at claiming space on the board, but this humble artisan will let you prepare for later turns easier, making it quite strong in the early or mid-game.
As a quick side-note: you might notice some small design changes. Text was just a bit small on the original set, so we’ve slightly increased just about everything here.
2: Fire Crest Oarman
“Move a unit to an adjacent space. If it was an ally, you may play an additional unit.”
This is our first card that moves units around the board, so let’s break it down. In short, movement always happens to units already on the board, and moves them into empty orthogonally adjacent spaces (not diagonally). This completely changes the game, since it’s not so easy anymore to block your weaker units off from getting taken by the opponent when they can just move your cards around.
Additionally, the number two card can let you play an additional unit from your hand if you move an ally already on the board. That’s not quite as easy as it sounds, and it limits your choices. Sometimes it’s best to move an opposing unit to open up a better play later—these are the hard decisions we must make along the Tassradan Trail.
3 & 4: Uwakuun Shaman & Cenzai Guard
These are the only two cards that we think shouldn’t change. The simple draw effect that number three cards offer is always valuable, and every set has a need for them. Meanwhile, the simplicity of number four as a baseline for the basic card allows us to have a safe mid-point for the game, plus it gives us a place to include some lore from Adia in the game! You can rest assured knowing that while a lot is different in this expansion, these two are staying the same.
5: Fire Crest Beast Master
“This unit may only be Moved by swapping its position with an adjacent unit. Deal 1 damage to the unit this swapped with.”
Cards above 4 value start to get a little bit less reliable. Sure, they can convert more units on average, but they each have some kind of cost. The number five cards have always been a bit of a double-edged sword, and this one is no different. Its uniquely restricted movement might help you expose something to be taken, or it might be used against you in the same way. Additionally, it’s one of two cards in this set that can deal damage.
Damage is a reduction in the power of a card which lasts until the end of the turn. So, if this beast master dealt 1 damage to a 3-power card, it would temporarily be valued at 2, then revert back to 3 at the end of the player’s turn. However, if this damage is dealt to something and its power is dropped to zero, it’s discarded from the field. You can use this ability to trample over number one cards to clear space and make the game go on longer—or weaken higher value cards just enough to convert them! There’s a lot going on with the beast master and the other number five cards in this set, and we’re excited to see what creative ways you use them.
6: Uwakuun Warrior
“If there are no other allied units in the same row or column as this, its Power is 4.”
Number six cards are strong, but this one is strongest when it’s with friends. Moving your allied units around to set up the perfect placement—or moving an opponent’s cards to weaken their number six card—has been incredibly satisfying in our playtests. Veterans of Fray, keep in mind that there is no restriction on playing spells for this set! You can move a card with your spells, then play this card for maximum effect all in the same turn.
7: Roo Boss Kojwy
“Immobile. During your opponent’s next turn, they may move any unit to an adjacent space.”
This is the only unit who is immobile, making it a sort of wall that can block the movements your opponents want to take. However, your opponent also gain a free move after you play this, so be careful about when you decide to drop one of these powerful cards!
Cenzai Spell: Winds of Ether
“Move a unit to an adjacent space, then Choose One: put that unit into its owner’s hand; or draw a card.”
This highly versatile spell has long been one of the most important cards of The Tassradan Trail. It can move, and then also draw you a card, or remove something from play. There’s rarely a situation where it’s not helpful, be it activating the extra card draw from number one units, or giving you a new card to play later.
Elvish Spell: Flaming Step
“Move a unit to any available location. If it was allied, it may Convert units as if it were played from your hand.”
This spell was taken straight out of the spellbook from Paths. Whereas movement is normally constricted to spaces nearby what you’re moving, with Flaming Step you’re able to teleport to any free location. Additionally, being able to convert adjacent units is immensely powerful—especially if you can line this up with a high valued unit. This card changes games.
Uwakuun Spell: Ambush!
“Deal 2 damage to all units in a row or column. Draw a card if any were destroyed.”
Admittedly, while the last spell was inspired from Paths, the uwakuun spell was something I wanted to play with even before I knew there were uwakuun in Adia. Lining up the ideal row of units to damage either for that card draw or an easier conversion is something we included in The Tassradan Trail from the start, and it hasn’t really changed that much since we started working on this about a year ago.
Pre-Order The Tassradan Trail
Exciting, right? The Tassradan Trail is practically a whole new game. The same core rules of Fray apply: you want to have the majority of spaces on the field when they’re all full, but the way you do that has drastically changed. We’ve had a ton of fun testing this one out, and experimenting with all the ways movement and damage change the game, and we can’t wait to hear your stories about the crazy moves you’ve made in the game.
You can pre-order The Tassradan Trail right now on the Smunchy Games store. While you’re there, if you don’t already have the original set of Fray, consider picking that up as well!
Thanks for checking this expansion out. There’s more exciting news for Fray on the way, so stay tuned here, or on our discord server.