Gamebox author Marco Klasmeyer writes about the game:
The name Fungi gives a good hint what this little card game is about: savory mushrooms. You find yourself in the middle of the forest, equipped with baskets, pans, some butter and cider. You start your harvest before sunrise and gather all day long various types of delicious mushrooms and in the end cook some good meals at the campfire in the evening.
There are many different types of mushrooms in the forest, some can be found more often and some are very rare and of course the rare ones are the most delicious and precious mushrooms. But you also have to take care of the poisonous fly agaric. At the end of the game you gain victory points for cooked mushroom pans, the more mushrooms are in the pan the more victory points you gain for it. There are extra points for additional ingredients like butter and cider. You need to pick them up in the forest as well but there some restrictive rules how butter and/or cider can be put into your pan.
Since Fungi is a card laying and collecting game there is no game board. Instead 8 Forest cards are lined up and build the current segment of the forest. A card displaying two feet is put right at the end of the card lane. This is where you stand and normally you can only pick up mushrooms and other items which are right in front of you (to your feet). With the help of Stick (walking-staff) cards you may descend deeper into the wood and collect more mushrooms which are far away. The Forest cards contain mushrooms, baskets, pans, butter and cider and Moon cards. If a player picks up a Moon card from the forest he immediately gets the top card from the moon light mushrooms supply stack. Mushrooms collects at moonlight are special and more valuable mushrooms. Moonlight mushrooms count as two normal mushroom cards of the same kind. Forest, Moonlight and Stick cards each build a supply pile. In the course of the game you walk through the forest and the Forest cards pass by. After each players turn the last Forest card (to your feet) is put on a decay pile. Cards from the decay pile can still be taken for a short while. If there are more than 4 Forest cards the whole decay pile is discarded and these mushrooms and useful items are out of the game. The whole line of Forest cards is shifted to the right and filled up to 8 from the supply pile. Since the cards are rotated after each players turn there are two shifts occurring before your next turn, which lets the Forest cards move quite fast.
During your turn you have only one of these options:
Pick one card of the two from the forest at your feet, if your hand card limit allows this.
Take the whole decay pile to your hand, if your card limit allows this.
Take a card from deeper forest and pay with one Stick card per card distance from the feet card, if your hand card limit allows this.
Lay out a pan without any ingredients from your hand. You may add ingredients later in another turn.
Cook 3 or more mushrooms of a kind, you may add butter (4 or more) and cider (5 or more). For this action you need an empty pan (already laid out). But this action can be combined with laying out a pan at the same time.
Sell 2 or more mushrooms of a kind to gain Stick cards, the number of sticks one gains per card is displayed on the mushroom card.
Each player has a hand card limit of 8, this mean you may never hold more than 8 cards on the hand. Butter and Cider cards remain on the hand until they can be added to a pan with mushrooms. Also single mushroom cards remain on the hand until they are either cooked or sold only together with other mushroom cards of the same kind. So there might be situations where a player is not allowed to pick up Forest cards. This is of course not desirable. Thus the goal to gather as much mushrooms as possible to cook really delicious and comprehensive meals is restricted by the number of things a player can carry with him, but there is a simple way out: a basket.
There are some special Forest cards that need some more explanations:
Baskets: A basket extends your hand card limit. Place it in front of you immediately. A player may have several baskets each adding 2 to the limit.
Butter: Butter can be added if you cook 4 or more mushrooms in a pan. This yields 3 additional victory points at the end.
Cider: Cider can be added if you cook 5 or more mushrooms in a pan. This yields 5 additional victory points at the end.
Moon cards: draw the topmost card from the Moonlight supply stack and put it on your hand.
Fly agaric: This mushroom card may be taken from the forest or as part of the decay pile, but of course it cannot be cooked. Instead the fly agaric is placed in front of the player who took the card. This player is only allowed to hold 4 cards on his hand (+2 per basket) and all other cards have to be discarded. This is the only way to get rid of unwanted cards from his hand.
When cooking mushrooms it is possible to add both butter and cider or two times one of them, but for each additional ingredient the required number of mushrooms must be fulfilled independently. This means adding for example butter and cider you need 4+5=9 equal mushrooms, however collecting 8 or more mushroom of a kind is really hard to reach.
The game immediately ends when the last Forest card is taken. All hand cards do not count anymore and can be discarded. The two players evaluate their cooked pans: sum up the mushrooms and their value, take care of the moonlight mushrooms as they count twice, add 3 points for butter and 5 for cider. The player with the most points wins, in case of a draw the player with the most mushrooms wins.
Fungi is a nicely designed theme card game with a dimly forest atmosphere. However the theme of collecting mushroom is not mine. I personally have never been out to seek mushrooms, although I like cooked mushrooms a lot. The rules are not too complex although I had to read the accompanying printed rules three time because they were not well structured. It is loaded with cross references and explaining things twice leaving me quite confused after having read the last page. The printed rules also do not work well for looking up things in the course of the game. This is quite astonishing as we are talking about only 4 folded letter sized rule pages (!) But apart from my struggle with the rules, Fungi has a neat mechanism for wandering through the forest and collecting mushrooms. The line of forest cards, having the area to your feet and deeper forest, the idea of needing sticks to bridge the distant forest cards is very well illustrating walking through the forest. But due to the very limited activity per turn and the rule that at least one forest card is put onto the decay pile, the forest cards move quite quickly. Imagine you do not take a forest card but instead do another action but your opponent takes one forest card, then the forest will have moved by 3 cards when your next turn begins and 2 previous forest cards are already on the decay pile. This decay pile helps a little to get adjacent forest cards because you are only allowed to take one card per turn. However, the decay pile may consists of more cards than you are allowed to take due the hand limit restrictions. This makes it really hard to collect more than 3 mushrooms of the same kind. There are mainly mushrooms types that have only 4 or 5 at all in the Forest deck and if you miss one of them you are not able to cook more than 3 mushrooms and thus are not able to add butter or cider. After having played several rounds with different opponents no one was able to ever cook 5 mushrooms and add cider. Maybe the distribution of mushroom types and their number of occurrences is not that well balanced, maybe the need of a basket to increase the hand card limit is so essential in the early phase of the game, maybe the difficulty to take adjacent mushrooms cards needed for a full pan, maybe
For me there are too many maybes.