On Day 1 of Origins 2017, we had made our way over to the Stronghold Games booth in the Exhibit Hall to demo Not Alone, but to our dismay found that the demo had just started and was full. Rather than go away in anger, only to come back again, we had a seat at the adjacent table to demo Frogriders, which was a game that wasn’t even on my radar and a game type that I normally wouldn’t be interested in….but I am very glad that we sat down to give it a go.
The game is set deep in the forests of the North of a fictitious fantasy land where lives an enchanting elf tribe called the Frogriders. Each spring, they hold a tournament in which their four major squads perform a mock battle. These squads are classified by color, including Red, Yellow, Blue and Brown, and whoever best manages to capture the most valuable units and make clever use of their special abilities will take the victory!
Frogriders is a tactical family game in which you collect the custom-molded plastic figures by making them leap over one another similar to checkers, but with some variations on allowed movements based on what privilege cards you have collected. Each of the collected Frogriders enables you to keep it for scoring or return it to the tribe’s village in order to use its special ability. Due to the many different privilege cards and several scoring cards (of which only a few are used each game), there are a lot of tactical nuances to discover and many strategies to employ to win at Frogriders!
The game is really fairly simple to pickup and fast playing, as we finished a complete game in about 20 minutes, which included rules explanation. But don’t let the fast play time and simple rules deceive you. This is a very fun and surprisingly tactical game with lots of paths to victory and strategies to use. We really enjoyed our play through.
My favorite part was the set collection mechanism. At the beginning of the game, you will randomly draw 2 scoring cards that all players will be aware of, as they are placed on the board for all to see. In the above picture, you can see at least one scoring card in the bottom left of the picture, which shows that for every pair of yellow and blue frogs that players have collected, they will earn 3 victory points at games end. The other scoring card gave 3 victory points for each pair of red and yellow frogs (you can see it in the upper right corner of the below picture). Each player also draws a blind card that will score end game victory points but which is hidden from the other players. As you can see below, I drew a card that would give me 5 victory points for each pair of red frogs. The really great thing about the scoring system is that frogs of different colors can be used to satisfy more than one scoring card. So, for instance, my red frogs, that would give me 5 VP for each set, also gave me 3 VP for sets when coupled with yellow frogs.
I also really liked the different abilities of the various colored frogs. The blue frogs could be returned to the village to gain you a privilege card from those showing during the game and the yellow frogs could be retuned to the village to allow for an extra leap attempt. Both of these abilities are very important and really can be used to secure more valuable frogs for end game scoring. As in most games of this type, your actions will gain you points but may also open up opportunities for your opponents as they go after your turn is over. This is something that players must be aware of. You don’t want to collect a frogrider that gives you only 3 VP, while your action opens up an opportunity for your opponent to gain 5 VP. That is not in your favor and will lead to a crushing defeat. This will mean you may have to take moves that are not optimal for your strategy but will gain you some points while not setting up your opponent. The game will come to an end when there are no legal moves for the next player and players then move onto the final scoring phase where all hidden scoring cards are revealed and the points are added up. In our game, Tim beat me with a score of 41 to 39 and we enjoyed our play immensely.
Frogriders also has a very attractive presentation with great fantasy art and beautiful colors. The game board has this great large drawing on the backside, that I didn’t get a picture of, but that is absolutely gorgeous (you can see a very small snippet I found on BGG posted by one of the designers). To me, this shows a publisher’s commitment to the game as this drawing didn’t need to be added to the back of the board and will never be used in the game but is a really nice touch to the overall look and feel of the game. It makes it feel finished and complete!
I really enjoyed our demo and would recommend this game to anyone that is looking for a fast playing, yet strategic and highly replayable family game that is interesting and can teach children the need to plan and strategize in gaming. Very well done!