In the board gaming world, it seems like small is king and the Famous line fits in just right. Famous Forehand: The World’s Smallest Tennis Game, is one in a series of six sports games from the Famous Games Company and designer Rob Bartel. Each game uses just 11 cards and have a different sports theme. You may need some extra components to play a few of the games. Famous Forehand requires a penny or a glass bead to represent the tennis ball and pen and paper to keep score.
Components / Set Up
You only need eleven full size cards to play Famous Forehand. These cards are beautiful and top quality. I just love the graphic design. Each one looks like half a tennis court. Two put together look like a small tennis court on your tabletop. It is the graphic designs that first impressed me with the entire line; each one is more beautiful than the last. Of the eleven cards eight are the tennis court cards, one is the serve card, and two are the rules cards. The ball can land on one of five spots on the card. The player can respond from two of the spots. From these spots arrows show you where to return the ball. Single arrows target the first row, and double arrows go to the back of the court. There are also mini images of a full court to show the specific target of the return shot.
Set up is a breeze! You choose a starting player who will be the server. This player will be the server for the entire game. Players can choose to alternate servers between sets. The server take the double-sided serve card and places the “ball” on the yellow line of the Serve Left card. This card will alternate between the Left and Right Serve. The other eight cards are shuffled and four are given to each player. This set-up is repeated for each rally.
Game Play: The Rally
Famous Games rate their games in levels of difficulty: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Forehand is one of the two beginner games. Of course just like in any sport, if you need some guidance, look to your coach. There is an interactive tutorial for each game at www.FamousGames.co/coach. But the rules for Forehand that players will be experts in no time at all!
The Server first starts using the Serve Left card. From there, players rally back and forth using their cards to return the serve. Each player plays the new card on top of his or her previous card. Played cards are not returned to the player hand. When a player cannot return the ball loses a point to the other player. The server flips the Serve Card, shuffles the other eight cards and deals the cards.
Scoring is the same as in the real game of tennis. Play occurs in sets of multiple games. A player wins an individual game when they score four points. They must score at least two more points more than their opponent to win. To win a full set, a player needs to win two more games than their opponent.
Famous Forehand reminds me of the cards games I played with my family when I was young: simple, fun, and fast. With only four choices each serve, turns are quick and choices limited. I would really like to have more cards and more options. At the same time I think it is good game design to give players only four. This does mean players may memorize all the cards. Four options make for a quick turn and little time for analysis paralysis. As in the real game, you must react to what your opponent plays and sometimes you just won’t be able to return the ball.
I enjoyed the simple beauty of the game. Its size, rules, and theme make it perfect for families, new gamers, and for filler play. You won’t need to spend a lot of brain energy thinking about your choices. Players looking for deep play or a true tennis simulation won’t find it here. But it will make you smile, and you will have fun. Which is what games are all about. This beautiful little game is an easy game to carry along and bring out in many situations.
I was surprised that eight cards could actually feel like playing a game of tennis. Sometimes the ball will bounce your way and sometimes you will be aced, but you won’t have to worry about breaking a sweat!
For more information on all the Famous Games, How to Play tutorials, Rob’s blog and more check out the website at: https://www.famousgames.co/.
Designer: Rob Bartel
Artists: Rob Bartel
Publishers: Famous Games Company
Game Length: 30 minutes
Thanks to Famous Games Co. for the review copies.