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Subject: Bullfrogs Review! rss

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Marcelo Groo
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Gruta do Groo #192 ( 16/03/2014 )

Sapotagem night at Gruta, with Bullfrogs!!!



The Bullfrogs is a game by designer Keith Matejka, with illustrations by John Ariosa and Luis Francisco's graphic design, which is soon to be released on Kickstarter by Thunderworks Games.

Well... John Ariosa (illustrator of Mice and Mystics, Dungeon Run, etc) and Luis Francisco (Brazilian friend of ours, and graphic designer of Flash Point, The Cook-off, Draco Magi, etc) need no introduction, but... Keith Matejka?? Bullfrogs is Keith's first game to be commercially released, and I may even be wrong, but I believe we have a new respectful game designer on the market! whistle

In the last Gruta we did the first playtest of Bullfrogs here in Rio de Janeiro, with a neat Print & Play version that Luis Francisco got me and everyone was really surprised with the game... like REALLY SURPRISED. Bullfrogs uses four of the most popular existing mechanics: Area Control, Action Points, Hand Management and Modular Board, all in the same game!! (just missing worker placement, huh?! lol) And the most amazing thing is that not only it worked, but worked VERY WELL! The game has brilliant ideas, all mechanics integrate in total harmony with each other and with the theme, the rules are simple, it has a negligible luck factor and quite elaborate strategy. Anyways… a top scored gameplay that I haven't seen for a while in a new game that reminded me of old "elegant euros", increasingly rare nowadays…

Ok, ok, lets talk about gameplay!

The Bullfrogs have a fun theme, where armies of frogs battle above lily pads, each trying to achieve mastery of the swamp. Each player has 14 common frogs, 2 bullfrogs (more powerful, but also slower) and a deck of cards (all identical), composed of lily pad cards that during the game should be placed adjacent to the cards already in play. Each card has 4 information: the color of the card (which defines which player played that card), the central spaces (which define how many frogs fit in that lily pad), how many points it's worth (for the final score of the game), and how many actions it provides (for the player that used that card).

Understood that, the rules are simple: During setup each player draws 3 cards from your deck (which has 10 in total) and place the 5 "neutral" cards on the table, four lily pads and a Log Card (which has no limit occupation and never leave the game). Then each player will play your turn clockwise until everyone has played all his cards. During the turn the player must perform the following actions:

1. Place a card adjacent to any card on the table.
2. Perform the number of actions determined by the played card (2-4 cards).
3. Draw a new card from your deck.

Simple as that. After the last card is played, everyone count the points, winning the one who gets the highest score (D'oh…).

Nice, I explained the whole game but you didn't understand anything! Come on... the dynamics (and genius) of the game is the placement of your card, since you can only perform actions on the cards that are on the same line and/or the column of the played card (never on itself). Possible actions: place a frog or a bullfrog on an empty space OR sapotar* an opponent, consisting of moving it to an empty space adjacent to the card, thus bullfrogs are fat and heavy, and can not be moved (I'm not bullying, it's on the rules!).

*Sapotar: is the action of sabotaging an opponent, which was transformed into "Sapotar" by Vanessa as in portuguese sabotage is "sabotar" and frog is "sapo" (complain to her, I have nothing to do with it!).

Back to the game... After a player make the actions they want, it is checked whether there are cards on the table with all occupied spaces (can be up to 4 cards in this situation) because full lily pads sinks on water! But wait a minute and calm down, before sinking the little lily pad you have to check who is controlling it: the player with the most frogs in the lily pad (bullfrogs are worth two) wins control of the area and will have the card (which will be placed in your score pile). Then the active player must move the frogs that are in this card, with the following limitations: it can only move an amount of frogs equal to the number of cards adjacent to the lily pad that will sink, and it must move his opponents' frogs and bullfrogs before. Bullfrogs are moved after frog (they are fat and slow, remember??! Bullying!!!). Finally the card is removed from the game and if there are other card with not touching (adjacency), it can relocate all these cards to the position you want. But by removing cards and jumping frogs you can fill and sink more and more, creating the possibility of a single move to turnaround the entire game... and that really interesting and cool!

I really don't know if you caught with my explanations the amount of decisions, tactics and strategies, that the rules originate... probably not, but believe me, they are MANY! And that's not even to mention the ending game score, which add even more possibilities for decisions in every move!

As I said earlier on this review, the game surprises, especially those who plays it expecting a "silly game of frogs"... Luis says that Bullfrogs is "a small game that surprises you", but it's small only on its packaging, Bullfrogs is a BIG game, it comes easily to my Top 5 Area Control! (and Area Control is my favorite mechanic...)

That's it guys, for those interested in the Bullfrogs I wrote down there all you need to know it better, download trial version, etc. links.

Thanks !
Groo

Bullfrogs - Kickstarter Draft Project:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1152516291/541124048?to...

Bullfrogs - Print & Play version:
http://www.thunderworksgames.com/uploads/1/1/6/3/11638029/bu...

Bullfrogs - Rulebook:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2416248/Rulebook_Updated...
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The Inquisitive Meeple
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The Kickstarter draft link isn't working, just so you know.
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Marcelo Groo
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Thanks Sanders, the link is correct but does not work when put here...

www.kickstarter.com/projects/1152516291/541124048?ref=bggfor...
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?token=b911534e
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