‘Don’t judge the book by its cover’ we learn early on as we begin to read. I wish we had also learnt to not judge the board games by its box art. While not as succinct, this is definitely a statement to live by. I don’t mean to imply to King Frog’s artwork is unpleasing to the eye. However, the first time I saw it, my immediate thought was ‘oh no, this is a kids’ game’. Again, nothing wrong with it being a kids’ game, except that this is not really in my wheel house. However, don’t let the bright colours and the cute frog wearing the crown on the box art mislead you, like it did me. King Frog, while appealing to all range of ages, is an excellent game that treads those tricky water of being enjoyable and challenging for both adults and kids.
• Designer: Dennis Kirps, Gunter Burkhardt
• Publisher: Brain Games
• Number of Players: 2-4
• Playing Time: 15 mins
In King Frog, players are frogs jumping on the lily pads arranged in a circle. The frog can safely land on the lily pad that corresponds to its colour or on a flower pad. If it lads on the lily pad that is of a different colour, then the player has to discard one of the mosquito cards from their hand. The cards are used to determine how far the frog will jump and are numbered from 1 to 5. The person who played the lowest number cards begins the movement first, then the person who played the seconds lowest card and so on. In the event that two players played the same numbered mosquito card, the frog that is furthest behind goes first. If the player discards their last card, they are out of the game. If the first frog (recognized by a crown on its head) overtakes the last frog, the game ends. The winner is the last frog standing or in the event of a tie, a frog wearing the crown.
While it may sound like there is not much to this game, there is one very simple rule, that makes it challenging, competitive and fun in one full sweep. Frogs always jump over frogs without counting the jump action as a move. For example, if the green player played mosquito card with a value of 1, it would move one space, if the next space is unoccupied. However, if there was a frog on the next lily pad, the player would jump over it and land on the next available lily pad. Furthermore, if there were two frogs immediately in front of the green player, their frog would jump over the both of them. Essentially, having a frog in front of you, means you can move one extra space.
Suddenly, we add a little bit of a bluffing and deduction action to our game. Players have to consider where their opponents have to jump, which cards they will likely play and in which order all turns will be resolved ,to correctly calculate how to get to the lily pad of the colour they need. This will get only trickier, when, unavoidably, players will end up discarding cards from their hand and thus limiting how many spaces they can move on the subsequent round.
This is exactly what I really love about this game. It is simple and seemingly so silly, yet within its rule-set, there is enough space for strategising, deduction and, even misleading your opponents. Sure, you can think of it as goofy frogs jumping about, or you can plan ahead, considering carefully which cards to discard and counting your opponents cards as well.
Unfortunately, this type of game-play is only at its best with the full roaster of four players. Three players will still get a decent game. However, when there is only two players, King Frog feels lacking. To keep the game balanced an additional dummy frog is added, but it doesn’t do much for the overall game-play.
The production value of the game, on the other hand, is great. The wooden frog tokens are adorable and it is hard not to smile when placing a wooden crown token on a frog. The only way those frog token could be better, if their eyes would be ‘googly eyes’ instead. The lily pad tokens are made out of the nice thick card board. King Frog‘s artwork is adorable throughout and the overall concept fits really well with the game’s mechanics.
Despite me initial prejudices, I ended up falling in love with this little game. It has so much charm, humour and has so much more to offer than it looks at the first sight. King Frog reminds me once again, that even if the game seems like it is aimed at the younger audience, it doesn’t mean that is simplistic and boring for adult gamers. This game is a little gem, and I highly recommend playing it.
Look out for King Frog in future feature games for Tabletop Tuesday!