Bullfrogs is a game by Keith Matejka, published by Thunderworks Games. It is for 2-4 players, but it can be played solo with the Solitaire Variant Expansion. In this game, players will be controlling an army of frogs as they struggle to take control of the swamp. These amphibian warriors will leap from lily pad to lily pad as overcrowded lily pads sink into the swamp. The player that can best control their froggy fighters will be declared the winner.
To begin, players choose a color and receive the corresponding deck of 10 cards as well as 14 frog meeple and 2 bullfrog meeple. They also receive a player aid card. The starting cards are placed on the table, beginning with the log card first, followed by the remaining cards as shown in the rule book. Players shuffle their cards and place them face down in front of them. They then draw 3 cards from their decks. The first player is chosen and play now begins.
The solitaire setup is a little bit different and includes a set of 2 colored dice; 1 for direction and 1 for the number of actions. I won't go into too great of detail on the rules for this. However, I will give my thoughts on the expansion in the break down sections.
On a player's turn, they will perform the following sequence of events; play, take actions, score, draw. The first thing the player must do is to play a lily pad card from their hand. The card is placed face up and adjacent to either the log card or one of the other lily pad cards on the table.
The next thing a player does is take actions. The number of actions that a player is allowed to take is determined by the number of lily pad icons on the card that they played earlier. There are two types of actions that the player can take as many times as they have actions available in any combination. The actions are deploy and sabotage. To deploy, a player simply adds either a frog or bullfrog of their color to one of the lily pad cards in the same row as the card that they placed earlier. They can not deploy frogs or bullfrogs to the log card or the card that they placed. They also can not deploy more than 2 frogs or bullfrogs or combination of both to any one card. To sabotage, a player will move an opponent's frog from one of the lily pad cards in the same row as the card they played earlier to an adjacent card with an open space. There are a few exceptions. Bullfrogs can not be sabotaged and frogs on the log card can't either.
The next thing that a player does is score lily pad cards. To do this, the player checks to see if any of the lily pad cards have been filled up. If so, players then count up the strength of each player's pieces on the card, awarding 1 point per frog and 2 points per bullfrog. The player with the highest strength wins the battle. The player then jumps 1 frog or bullfrog to each one of the adjacent cards. If moving to another lily pad card, there must be an available space. The log card always has available spaces. The player starts with the losing player's frogs, then their bullfrogs, moving to the winning players frogs and finishing with their bullfrogs. There will only ever be a maximum of 4 moves depending on the number of adjacent cards. Frogs that remain on the card are returned to the right player. Bullfrogs are removed from the game. The winner of the card then takes the lily pad card and places it face up in their score pile. This continues for any other full lily pad cards. Once they have all been scored, the lily pad cards that are no longer connected to the rest of the cards must be slid into position with the others. This may cause other cards to be disconnected as well. They also must be slid into place with the rest of the cards.
The last thing that a player does is draw a lily pad card. This is done by simply drawing a card from the player's draw pile. If there are no cards left in the stack, no card is drawn. Play then passes to the next player.
Once all players have played all of their lily pad cards, the game is over. Final scoring then commences. Players add up the victory points on each card in their score pile, adding 1 point for each card of their own color. Players also receive 1 point for frogs of their color on the log card and 2 points for bullfrogs of their color. The player that has the highest strength on the log card receives an extra 3 points. Players then compare their totals and the person with the most victory points wins.
The major differences in the solitaire variant are that the dice are rolled to determine where frogs are deployed by the opposing player and they may bump your frogs back to your supply as well. Any points scored by the opposing player are subtracted from your points which are then compared to the Grand Master Frog chart. Of course the more points that a player makes the higher their rank.
The game is quite nice to look at. It consists of lots of cards divided into 4 different player colors. There are also 5 starting cards that include the log card as well as 4 player aid cards. The cards have some really nice looking lily pad artwork on them. They look like they were all taken from a beautiful painting. There are also 14 wooden frog meeple as well as 2 wooden bullfrog meeple in each player color. The frog meeple are quite cute looking. I really like the design. The bullfrog meeple are a bit bigger and appear to have an axe. They are both really nice. I really like the artistic design of the components.
The solitaire variant comes with a pair of dice along with a rulebook. One die is for movement and the other is for the number of actions. They are really nice. I love the patterning on the dice. They look really great.
9 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is very nicely done. It has lots and lots of pictures throughout the book. There are tons of examples scattered on every page, usually with an accompanying picture for reference. Every step of the game is laid out really well and in great detail. There is nothing difficult to understand and it's very easy to read. The last 2 pages of the book give a long drawn out gameplay example that should help players understand the game quite nicely. I really like the design. The cover picture looks really amazing and has more of that painted artwork that I like about the cards.
The solitaire variant consists of a small pamphlet. It explains the setup as well as the play sequence of the game, using a ghost opponent known as Isaac. There are only a couple of pictures. The back page has what is known as the Pond Log for keeping track of your solitaire scores complete with places for name and date. This isn't quite as good as the main rulebook but it doesn't have to be.
9 out of 10
The game is quite simple and fun. There is quite a bit of strategy involved with this game. You have to think about where you want to place your pieces, when to sabotage, where to place your card and when to use the bullfrogs. That's a lot to think about, but it's not hard and it's quite fast. As a 2 player game, it is great. It gets a bit more complicated with more players. I honestly prefer to play it with 2 players. I like the simplicity of the game and find that it can be easily taught and learned. The theme is there but it's not a huge part of the game. Yes it's definitely a game about frogs and bullfrogs. It just isn't all that deep. That's not a bad thing though as it simply makes the game a really light, fast and fun game. The game can be played in about 30 minutes which makes it a great filler game.
The solitaire variant is really fun too. It's a bit different but has a lot of the same strategy as the regular game. It can be played a little quicker than the regular game and took me around 20 minutes or so to play. It is quite random what the other player will do as Isaac's decisions are decided by the dice rolls. You really have to just go with whatever happens and try your best to win off lily pad cards as best as you can. I have yet to make it to the Grand Master Frog level, but I keep trying. Normally I wind up Knight and Duke levels instead which are in the middle of the chart. As I said, I really prefer the 2 player version best but this is still nice to pull out and play by myself as well.
8 out of 10
Bullfrogs is a light weight game of lily pad collecting through battle. It is a fun game that can be played in about 30 minutes with 2 or more players. It takes a little less time with only 1. The artwork is nice on the cards and the wooden frog and bullfrog meeple are really well done. I love them. The game is very simple and is easy to learn and teach. It has a good bit of strategy but doesn't become too thinky. It really works best with 2 players but the solitaire variant is a nice change up for when you're by yourself. I like both quite a bit. The game is a great filler. Fans of light 2 player games should really enjoy this. I recommend it and enjoy it.
8 out of 10
For more information about this game, please check out Thunderworks Games at their site.