I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
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Somewhere along the way, I decided that I wanted to collect the entire Kosmos 2-player series. I love the size of the boxes and the way they are presented. And I'm always looking for good 2-player games. But along with the good ones like Caesar and Cleopatra, Blue Moon, and Kahuna comes some less appetizing titles. Crocodile Pool Party falls into the later group. This game doesn't get much love around here and as such I wasn't really expecting too much. So did I get a decent game or just another box to add to the collection?


Rules

To start the game, lay the board out between the players. Hand each player on group of 6 swimmers/crocs. The players will lay out their pieces on the board in either a pre-arranged fashion or by alternating placement. Either way, the tiles should be shuffled first so that a player has no idea what number croc is on the bottom. After setup, the game begins.



On a player's turn, he must either:

1. Move a swimmer - Swimmers move 2 space orthoganally and may change diretion once.
2. Turn a swimmer to the croc side and move it.
3. Move a croc.

Crocs move according to the number on their tile. The 1 croc may move one space orthoganally or diagonally. The 2-5 crocs may move only orthoganally and may change their direction once. the 6 croc may move only orthoganally and may change its direction twice. Crocs must always move their full distance and cannot stop short for any reason.

If a crocodile finishes its move on top of the other player's swimmer or croc, that piece is "eaten" and the new piece is placed on top. The top piece determines who's croc it is.

The goal of the game is to take as many tiles (yours and your opponent's) to your pool bar which is located on the opposite side of your start are. Crocs and swimmers must land on the bar by exact count. The game ends when the pool contains pieces from only one player. Players then count the number of tiles they got to their respective bar. The winner is the player who has the most tiles (theirs and their opponent's). In the case of a tie, add up the numbers of the crocs that were captured with the highest total deciding the winner.


Components

Crocodile Pool Party is very light on components. The game comes in the standard Kosmos 2-player box which is both functional and attractive. There's a nice insert which isn't really needed due to the overwhelming lack of pieces.

The board is a tri-fold board that appears to be the same size and quality of Blue Moon. Since both are Kosmos games, its safe to say that its exactly the same besides the artwork. The board is more than adequate for this game.

Each player gets 6 pieces in either pink or yellow. One side of the piece has a swimmer while the other side features a crocodile with a number between 1-6. There is one of each in the set. These tokens are slightly thinner than Carcassonne tiles but are more than thick enough for this game. Thick cardboard probably would have done the trick, but its nice to see the slightly better component. The artwork on these tokens is cartoony and does a good job of capturing the light feel of the game. The panicked swimmers are especially funny.

The rules come on a small bi-fold booklet. They're easy to understand and are laid out very clearly. There's not a lot of rules here, so there shouldn't be much confusion. It would have been hard to mess that part up.


Gameplay

Crocodile Pool Party is a very simple game to play. There are three options on a player's turn:

1. Move a swimmer
2. Convert a swimmer into a croc and move it
3. Move a croc

The first problem with this is that swimmers are weaker than the crocs in almost every way. First, the 3,4,5, and 6 crocs can all move farther than the swimmers. The 2 croc is a wash, and while the 1 croc can only move 1 space, it has the power to move diagonally which makes it more versatile. Second, the swimmers can't capture other swimmers or crocs which means they are essentially useless until they are flipped over. Its my belief that the designer intended the swimmers to work as a bluff, but thats a pointless exercisea because their alternate side is drastically more powerful and useful.

The tiles are laid out randomly at the start of the game which completely nullifies any starting strategy you may have. How do you know which croc is where? You can't until you turn them over. So if you lose a swimmer early in the game, you'll be at a thorough disadvantage if it turns out to be a croc of high value. But there's no way to know that so you can't protect against it. This adds a layer of luck that I find unnacceptable.

The gameplay can be improved and as such I recommend the following variant:

1. Don't use swimmers. Play with the crocs face-up.
2. Take turns placing the crocs to start the game. This will allow players to create a strategy from the beginning which will add so much more depth to the gameplay.

A different option might be:

1. Use only 2 swimmers and play with the 3, 4, 5, and 6 crocs face up.
2. Swimmers are worth 2 points each at the end of the game.

That would allow some extra tactics to be used in which swimmers could act as bait.

Whether you play the game as published or use one of my variants it all boils down to a very simple abstract game of moving pieces around while trying to capture and avoid being captured. But unlike great abstracts, there's very little depth, especially when you play the published rules, as they add a deepl layer of luck and randomness.

The gameplay revolves around a basic mathematic exercise that may provide a good precursor to playing chess. Players will need to think about give-and-take. If I give up a piece, I want to be able to take another of equal or greater value. That idea forces you to think ahead and play both strategically and tactically and will work towards developing an understanding of deeper games. Still, there's not quite enough going on to make the choices feel important.


Compare it to...

Checkers and Chess. There's a simple grid for movement like checkers, but each piece has a variable power.


Theme

Break out the glue remover because this theme is pasted on! Its a fun concept for a light game though, so I can give this one a passing grade on theme.


Overall

As written, CPP is not very good. Its randomness betrays the fact that there is a good game lurking underneath. But played according to my variants, its much better and is worth playing on occassion. Its still very simplistic but it may work well as a springboard for deeper abstract games. This would make a nice addition to any family's game collection.

Out of the box, I rate this game a 3.5/10. But with the proposed fixes, I could see it reaching a 5.5/10. Thats still not very good, but its a lot better than its current rating. There's definately a good idea there, its just not implement well at all.

So I'm one game closer to my Kosmos collection. I've played worse. I've owned worse. I don't love this game but I don't hate it either, so it will stay on the Kosmos shelf. But when compared to its family, this is a real bomb. While definately not a gamer's game, its got merit as a light family game that would work well for kids.
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United States
Tucson
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Quote:
So I'm one game closer to my Kosmos collection. I've played worse. I've owned worse. I don't love this game but I don't hate it either, so it will stay on the Kosmos shelf. But when compared to its family, this is a real bomb. While definately not a gamer's game, its got merit as a light family game that would work well for kids.

It's hard for me to see why anyone would waste money buying, time playing and space storing a game that, even when "fixed", isn't very good. Is having all the Kosmos 2-player games really worth that kind of sacrifice?

I've never played the game, but CPP having "merit as a light family game that would work well for kids" seems dubious at best based on the rest of your review. Especially since there is a wide body of family and kids games that are actually good.

Is there really any reason to get this game beyond trying to have a complete Kosmos 2-player collection?

As an aside, your description of CPP reminded of DVONN, which I highly recommend.
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I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
United States
Howell
Michigan
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Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
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Honestly, there's not really any reason. I was trying to find the silver lining in the dark gray cloud.
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suPUR DUEper
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Villa Hills
Kentucky
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Broken.

The definition of a "1".
 
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Tony Chen
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Actually, this seems like it could be a decent abstract. Kind of like breakthrough.

Thanks for including rules in your review.
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Lou Seelbach
United States
Huntington
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Play with the rule that players can look at the underside of their own tiles at any time (including setup) and the game is worth playing. You end up with a simpler version of LotR Confrontation.
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Richard Hutnik
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Lou-Dawg wrote:
Play with the rule that players can look at the underside of their own tiles at any time (including setup) and the game is worth playing. You end up with a simpler version of LotR Confrontation.


I agree that approach gives it more strategy, and makes it a deeper game. I have no problem with how it is now. I like Tally Ho, so take what I say for what it is worth.
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