Many game designs set up grand themes and try to connect abstractions of reality with elegant mechanisms. Designers steep themselves in the world of their games honing the minutiae of decision structures. The rabbit hole goes deep and produces all sorts of types of games. Just as crucial is the role of the consumer in understanding these types to discern what depth they want from a game.
Sitting near the entrance to the rabbit hole is a light, whimsical game about frogs. In this setup, the player who’s able to jump to the right lily pads around and around in a circle wins. It doesn’t get much lighter than this.
King Frog from Brain Games is a hand management game for 2-4 players that takes about 15 minutes to play. It plays best with 3 players.
Colored lily pad tokens for three sections divided by wild lily pads are placed in a circle. The bulging eye player frog disks are placed on starting lily pads. Players also receive a hand of five mosquito cards numbered 1 through 5.
Each turn, players will simultaneously play a card from their hand. The lowest numbered mosquito card allows that player to move first, hopping their frog a number of spaces equal to the number they played. Spaces occupied by other frogs don’t count.
If a player lands on a lily pad of their color, they can keep the card they played, otherwise it is discarded. The last person to still have cards in their hand wins, and if tied, the player in the lead wins to become King Frog.
It may not be explicit from the description and images in this article, but King Frog is primarily aimed at the sub-10 year old audience. Planning ahead and recognizing the outcomes of selecting a number is the name of the game. Allowing the chaos to unfold while still retaining the spirit of sportsmanship is called out on the box. For all of this, King Frog succeeds.
Despite the randomness that can come from a simultaneous reveal, figuring out who moves, and the fallout from each frog placement, the game does present some mildly interesting choices for the 10+ year old audience. Playing a series of games so that everyone can get a feel for how the wild lily pads work seems par for the course. The speed of the game only helps the appreciation.
But, like many kids games, the decision space is shallow. This is an incredibly light game and won’t see too much playtime in households where heavier games are played. Even as a filler, there are certainly other games that offer more meat. As good as this game is for small gamers, it immediately drops off the radar for older gamers.
Given as a gift to families with preschoolers, King Frog works. It’s got the cute factor. It’s got some decisions. However, older gamers who need more than cute bulging eyes to amuse them, those who were expecting a game of frogs trading in the mediterranean, and anyone who hates the, or those who identify with Toad instead of Frog from the book Frog and Toad are friends, there’s little to belabor here.
Final Score: 3 Stars – Only preschoolers and those who love the lightest of light games will enjoy the bulging eyes hopping around the lily pads.
• Movement resolution can be chaotic
• Not much replay interest