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[Review] Sizzletoad

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tomvasel
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Joined: 03/23/2011

Whatever else one might say about the game Sizzletoad! (WizerGames, 2005 - D.M. Weinstock), it does have a catchy name. I'm not sure what exactly a Sizzletoad is - apparently it's a frog with a flaming tongue, but the idea of the game is actually rather simple and easy. Sizzletoad is merely a mixture of both "Rock-Paper-Scissors" and "Tic-Tac-Toe", combining games with a few simple mechanics together. Every kid in the world has played both games, and they often form the basis for much more complicated systems.

Combining two very simple mechanics does not make that satisfying of a game, however. I've playtested the game with many kids (the ideal audience for the game); and while they have a lot of fun with the "Rock-Paper-Scissors" part, the "Tic-Tac-Toe" part is really only there for show and doesn't have a lot to do with the game. I applaud the idea, but the execution just doesn't do much. Kids could simply play the game with their hands, not resorting to purchasing this version, and probably have the same level of enjoyment.

The game is played on a three by three board of lily pads, while a pile of twenty-four cards is shuffled and dealt evenly to all the players. The cards show one of three animals, which beat each other in this fashion: Sizzletoad beats Paperduck beats Fossiltick beats Sizzletoad. Players place a token of their color on a thirty-two space track around the outside of the board, and the first round begins.

Each player chooses a card from their hand and simultaneously reveals it. The player who wins this "duel" places one of the two cards on any unoccupied lily pad, and another "duel" begins. In a three player game, if two players flip the same card, the other player automatically wins - regardless of the hierarchy. In a four player game, there is a two-step duel for each round.

Either way, this continues until one player finishes a row on the board (in any direction) of three of the same animal. It does not matter who placed the first two, and three of the same animal will work. The player then counts the number of cards in the discard pile and moves their game piece that many spaces on the track. The next round begins, with the cards being re-dealt. The game continues until one player gets more than thirty-two points, at which point they win the game.

Some brief comments about the gameā€¦

1.) Components: The board is very nice looking - with murky water and lily pads forming a Tic-Tac-Toe grid. The cards are of okay quality; after only five games or so, they are already looking a bit worn around the corners. They do have a simple diagram on them, showing which other card they defeat, and they also each have a different border color, which makes it easy to differentiate between them. The playing pieces are the nicest part of the game - glass stones of different shapes and colors (red heart, white star, etc.) Everything rattles around in a much too large box (although it's still not huge) with a bright silver color. Not the greatest components in the world.

2.) Rules: The rulebook, which includes a most silly story about the creatures of the game (just what is a Fossiltick anyway?), is three pages of easily understood rules, although it does look it was printed out on a home color printer. Either way, I was able to get the game up and running in only a few moments (people understood the game - even my six year old daughter).

3.) Rock, etc.: Everywhere I go in Korea, I see children playing Rohzambo, with varying changes, etc. I don't mind the rock-paper-scissors mechanic as the basis for a more complicated game - such as the one found in Basari. But the game is ONLY this basic mechanic - nothing added really changes that.

4.) Tic-Tac-Toe: Okay, to begin with - I think that Tic-Tac-Toe is way overrated; and I stopped playing the game as a kid, since it offered very little. Variations on the theme, with more complexity, can be quite thrilling and exciting. Here, the variation is very little, using only three different animals. The problem lies in the fact that players can use any animals on the board to form their three-in-a-row. Because of this, the game is pretty much worthless. Players can attempt to block the other player, but why would they want to, when they can simply place the final piece there themselves? I found this part of the game to be lacking, and an added layer that does nothing except perhaps justify the price of the game.

5.) Fun Factor: It's fun to beat someone in Rock-Paper-Scissors, because you can be satisfied that you have outguessed them. I'm not sure that it's fun to play it 50 times in a row, which seems to be average for this sort of game. And if I DID want to play it fifty times in a row (which would cause me to check in a mental ward), I don't need a commercial game to do so.

Every person that has played the game has found it lacking, and several students begged out halfway through. They admitted that they had fun with the simultaneous selection, but that the Tic-Tac-Toe part wasn't worth the trouble of playing out. As I said in the beginning, combining two simplistic games might result in something more interesting and engaging. These two, though, were not meant to be coupled - at least like this. Sizzletoad is a lot of window dressing for something that two kids could do in the back of a car for free.

Tom Vasel
"Real men play board games"
www.tomvasel.com

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