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Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

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Anonymous

First on the Board! Frog God’s Pond by Matthew Frederick

This is our first scoring from the judges, and here’s hoping that we meet the expectations of those competing… So here it is, as per the “numbers” provided me by our playtesters, and the guidelines as posted for the contest by our site admins.

Theme: (10 points) Frog God’s Pond is about a group of Frog’s who’s pond is shrinking… and they’re ability to bribe the supreme deity into assuring that it dries up in a fashion that allows their frogs to die last. Doomed? Most certainly! Civilization? – A bit of a stretch. 5 points for being doomed.

Originality: (10 points) the tile-laying aspect pf this game has been done before, but then, what game mechanic hasn’t? The application of this mechanic in this game is fairly innovative, and this is the only game I can think of other than “Frogger” that has really taken the ‘doomed frogs’ approach. The response from our 5 playtesters was of similar ilk… and so we give this 9 out of ten for Originality. If it had used a mechanic I had never seen before it would be a ten… so those hoping for a ten, be warned… they’re hard to come by. 9 points for being a unique concept as well as for a rather ‘different’ use of an already common mechanic.

Cohesiveness: (15 points) FGP actually has a rather complex turn sequence, although this gets much easier as you become familiar with play. There are, however, EIGHT distinct phases to the turn, which is a bit much, although the handy ‘turn sequence reference cards’ help out considerably in this regard. In addition, the ‘Frog Shaman’ was adding an average of 14 flies to the pond every turn (until the end game), the location of which was determined randomly, and individually. This was a bit of a slow spot in the turn sequence, and there are several rules affecting ‘fly placement’ which must needs be known by the players. As this placement is a vital part of game strategy, none of the players got bored during this portion of the turn.. but most got a little ‘antsy’. Over all, there are no dead spots in the turn, and the entirety of the mechanics as a whole work well together. So, the rules are a bit tricky at first, but highly cohesive overall. 12 points because of the slight difficulty in learning the rules, and because of excess dice-rolling in the 1st phase of the turn.

Components (5 points): When I review games, I generally don’t form an opinion based on the aesthetic quality of what someone has submitted for my review, but this prototype deserves enormous kudos, and the folks that set up this contest DID include it as a factor. FGP is, in point of fact, of higher quality than most of the commercial product we sell. All of the pieces are highly durable, full color, and expertly crafted. ‘Nuff said. You get the full 5 points on this one Matthew.

Fun (25 points): Frog God’s Pond is a nice mix of chance, player determined outcomes, player politics, and strategy. It ran a bit longer than it should have in the opinion of those of us who played (about 3.5 hours), and although everyone had a good time, the players had passed the peak of the curve, as it were. Still a well done game, and one that everyone at my table said they would purchase! (Matthew – let me know if you want to sell the proto you sent… several of our gang mentioned that they would pay for it just to have it in the office). Would it make my Top-Ten Desert Island List? Possibly; it is that good… although it would more likely make the next cut, which is my top-30 list. The average score as received from those who played give this game : 22 out of 25 for fun (which is better than most of the ones I make).

Side Note: The ‘back story’ for this product, the ‘envelope in which it is wrapped intellectually’ is also well thought out and well written, and Matthew deserves enormous credit for that as well. It is too complex in its componentry to be something my small company could afford to produce at a profit…. But who knows what the big boys might say? If this were a $20-$25 Mayfair product, I know I’d buy one.

Personal Prediction: This one’s going to make the top-5….

Total score: 53 points

FastLearner
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Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

Frankly this is thrilling for a couple of reasons:

1. The shaman putting out 14 flies means I did something wrong in explaining the rules because there's only supposed to be Number of Players - 1 flies added, not number of frogs - 1. This would certainly make the phase ridculously long. :)

2. I am absolutely thrilled at the ratings because (big secret revealed) I created this entire game, including all of the prototype pieces (twice) and playtesting it twice in... drum roll please... two days (I even slept a couple of times). My initial design for the contest, Lemuria, hadn't had any playtesting and was a much more complex and (imo) fulfilling game. Two days before the deadline I realized that I'd just never be able to finish the game in time and so gave up all hope of entering the contest. Late on Friday I got the idea for Frog God's Pond.

I'm super-pleased to receive such good reviews on a game I started on Friday evening at 10pm and finished on Sunday night just before midnight!

(I didn't want to reveal this until after it had been judged.)

Wait till you see the games I actually spend time on! :)

FastLearner
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Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

Thanks again for all the kind words, I'm really pleased it was that fun. Perhaps my other designs suffer from too much time. :)

As to the prototype, please feel free to keep it (I assumed that was the case anyway). Color laser printers rock -- truly one of my best investments.

Anyone who wants to see the game is welcome to check it out, either just looking at jpegs or downloading the PDFs at [EDIT: Sorry, link removed, the game is in further development now.]

Ken
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Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

Congrtulations Matthew,

I have to concur after briefly scanning your game ... it looks awesome. Thanks for making it available to us all. I would like to put together a copy for myself if you don't mind.

But why did you have to go and tell us about the TWO DAYS!?! (as if my ego wasn't fragile enough ...) Perhaps you should change your monicer to "FastDesigner"?

I look forward to seeing more of the stuff you actually take time working on.

Anonymous
Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

Here's the 'rub' on the flies being added to the game... The rules say, "The Shaman rolls the dice to add new flies to the board, one roll for the number of players remaining minus one.

Example: If there are four players remaining, the Shaman will roll the dice three times...

I NOW understand that these 'rolls' are for the placement of individual flies... not to determine the total number of flies to be placed...

Here's hoping that makes sense to you Matthew... with 5 players we were adding an average of (3.5 X4)=14 flies to the kitty every turn...
(Four standard dice rolls with 3.5 being the mean result on a six-sider...)

...and for those listening... The time involved with a game has no real bearing on how good it is... I too have written great games in four hours... and terrible games in two months...

If it clicks in your head, it clicks... and thats all there is.

...and you get no further kudos from me unless you win Matthew... no matter how humble or self-effacing you try to appear :-).

XXOOCC

FastLearner
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Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

Hey, like I said, I definitely didn't make the rules clear. :lol:

And I wasn't fishing, I promise. I think, in fact, that I'm inspired now to do more fast games. All I need is a seriously pressing deadline and a feeling of despair! :wink:

FastLearner
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Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

Ken, thanks for the kind words. I now see in retrospect that it looks like I'm bragging about the two days thing. I actually meant it as an excuse for all the game's faults. Dang.

You're absolutely welcome to make a copy of the game, and of course if you have any rules questions please feel free to ask. If you have any suggestions on improving it I'm more than all ears as well.

Ken
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

Matthew,

Don't take anything I say too seriously ... I personally didn't think you were bragging (although you do seem to have some reason to ...)

Sometimes I just like to poke a little fun. And thanks for the permission to copy the game out.

DarkDream
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Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

FastLearner,

Out of curiosity, what software did you use to go ahead and create your documents? Specifically, what did you use to create your frog counters and tiles? Where did you find the frog images, and what technique did you use to create the unhealthy frog side?

Also how did you create the rules?

I am very impressed with the look of everything! It looks very professional. If I were to design a game in the future I would hope to be able to come up with something at least remotely close to it.

From the review, it seems like this game is a winner!

DarkDream

FastLearner
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Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign were the tools used to create this particular game. The frogs and bugs come from a clip photography collection of mine called "Photo Objects". The unhealthy frogs were created by making image adjustment in Photoshop. InDesign was used to lay out the rules.

I'm a part-time graphic designer, so a decade or so of doing that kind of stuff helps quite a bit.

And thanks for the compliment! :)

For gameplay I have a new version that I"ve yet to playtest, one that doesn't eliminate players but still has a lot of similar feel to this one. I hope to playtest it in the near future.

DarkDream
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Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

FastLearner,

Thanks for the info on the software you used. I looked into the Adobe products you mentioned, and they are a little too pricey for me (who would use it maybe to make games only -- a hobbyist user).

Do you happen to know of any other cheaper software that does somewhat the similar types of activities you used in both PhotoShop or InDesign?

I was looking on the web, and CorelDraw Essentials 2 seems a possible candidate.

If you do come up with a new vesion, let me know, I will be happy to look at it.

Also can I ask your permission, to go ahead and use the documents to assemble everything and actually play it with my girlfriend and her kids?

Thanks,

DarkDream

FastLearner
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Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

Absolutely, feel free to give the game a try -- it's freely available for personal use. Let me know if you enjoy it and please pass along any comments. Note that the game does involve auctioning so it may not work if the kids are too young.

Anonymous
Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

Looks beautiful.
I'll have to spend the time one day to make a copy. Thanks for posting it up!

Did you cut the markers by hand? In particular, all the circles? Or is this set to some sort of perffed marker sheet you already had? A little too much cutting for my lazy bones to do up. :)

If you want to make me a copy, I'd be glad to pay. :)

Tyler

FastLearner
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Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

Thanks for the kind words.

I have a craft die cutter (Sizzix) that I use to cut out the circles. I still have to cut them one at a time, but it does a nice job of cutting perfectly through thick cardboard and laminate.

The PDFs don't quite reflect the files I actually use to create the game because my pages with circles have special cut an alignment marks to allow them to work with my die cutter.

I'm planning on putting together another copy for myself soon, as I have some rules changes I'd like to playtest (including getting rid of the elimination aspect of the game, the one thing I really didn't like) and speeding it up -- right now it takes about 75 to 90 minutes to play (when played "correctly," as opposed to what the rules imply), and I'd like to cut that down to about 45 to 60 minutes, which should be about right for a game of this weight.

Once I start putting together another prototype I'll figure out roughly what it costs me a drop you a PM. :)

-- Matthew

Anonymous
Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

..and I know it says so up above... but allow me to reiterate:
The game is very cool (and fun) to play.

I didn't plan on giving the same score to FGP and Gheos... it just worked out that way. Frankly, I am perhaps a point or two more fond of Gheos... although I am of the opinion that it will be too difficult for some players to understand the fairly deep strategies involved with the game - hence the score as given.

FGP has a few... but NOT knowing them will not interfere with the enjoyment of the game, and it is a bit less cerebral... and therefore of greater general appeal.

Write more like FGP FL... it is a worthy-of-store-shelf-space game.
:-)
XXOOCC

Anonymous
Frog God's Pond by Matthew Frederick

Where are rules ?

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