This place is hop, hop, hopping! It’s a race across the pond. Can you be the fastest amphibian, leaping from lilypad to lilypad to leave your opponents green with envy? Carefully choose which frogs to move or you’ll be croaking in disgust!
How it Plays
Hey Froggy! is sort of an abstract racing game for kids 10 and older. To score points, players will move frogs based partly on player decisions and partly on dice rolls, hoping to play cards from their hands to match certain “top frogs.” The first one to reach a set number of points wins, though the prize is a bit ambiguous. King of the pond? All the flies you can eat? Escape from le chef serving you up in a golden batter with a side of onion rings?
Most of the action takes place on a ring of lily pads, thirteen to be exact. To begin the game, you’ll take the twelve plastic frogs that come in four different colors, mix them up, and randomly place four stacks of three frogs on adjacent lily pads. On a lily pad at either end of this line you’ll set a “Pile-o-Flies” token. Each player also gets two individual fly tokens. Finally, shuffle the deck and deal four cards to each person. Cards have a number and come in one of the same four colors as the stacked frogs.
On your turn, you’ll announce which color frog you are going to move. You can only move frogs that are on top of a stack. Then you roll a die to see how many spaces you can leap. If you’d like to roll and extra die, you can spend an unused fly token – using both of your tokens, if available. If you use a fly token, you’ll flip it over until you earn it back. After rolling the dice, you choose one of the values and move a frog of the previously indicated color that many lily pads, skipping and not counting the empty ones. If you land on the Pile-o-Flies, the frog remains there and the Pile token advances one space ahead.
The goal is to manipulate the stacks so that certain color frogs are on top – sitting alone on a lily pad all by its lonesome will work, too. Which colors do you want showing up in this fashion? Well, that depends on the cards in your hand. In order to score points, a number and color of frogs must be showing that exactly matches a card in your hands. For example, if two red frogs are topping off a couple stacks, then you can turn in a “Red 2” to score a point. The more cards you turn in on a single turn, the more points you’ll earn. There’s a handy, separate scoring track in which to mark your progress. First to the end wins.
Frog or Prince?
I always forget if a frog is technically an amphibian or a reptile. Yeah, that’s right, I’m not afraid to admit it. I was a history major. Besides, I’m not alone. When I started to type, “Is a frog,” in Google, it automatically fills in the rest of the question! (It’s an amphibian, by the way.) Hey Froggy! straddles a similar hazy categorization. It is unquestionably a kid’s game. However its mechanics are slightly more mature than its theme.
The refreshingly welcome puzzle element in deciding which frog to move even before you roll the dice encourages a degree of analysis that is too often lacking even in hobby games aimed for older kids (1st – 5th grade, for example). This not only gives kids a choice in one of “their” games, but it is a meaningful one. They must look at the board, look at their cards, and decide which frog will open the most lucrative scoring opportunity. Many times, a color will have more than one frog available, so you can play the odds. Or you can take your chance with just one frog of a given color.
Hey Froggy! also includes the individual fly tokens which is a nice mechanic to help minimize the luck of die rolls. Again, so many kids’ games leave players completely at the whim of dice, cards, or spinners – so these are an interesting addition, especially as many hobby games utilize similar minimizers in different forms. Parents will be able to tolerate it with their kinds and appreciate that it’s not completely dumbed downed.
Randomness still plays a large role, however. First, your movement is limited by die rolls. There will be times you won’t be able to move the frog in the manner that you would like because you didn’t get the right result. And sometimes you’ll try to land a frog on the Pile-o-Flies just so that you can get your fly tokens back to buy extra dice later. Then the cards represent a second chance factor, as well. You’ll take some turns without having the right cards because the necessary colored frogs are all covered. On one hand, the luck is reasonable – this is a kid’s game, after all. On the other hand, the double whammy of dice/cards can detract from the good, puzzle-like, abstract thought associated with moving the frogs.
At a half hour, the game really starts to get repetitive, which makes it feel longer than it should. The main culprit I think is the 26-point victory threshold. You may want to consider reducing that target number, especially with younger children or any who have shorter attention spans. Another factor accounting for the length is that typically you will only score one or two cards at a time, good for one or two points respectively. If you’re able to pull off a three or four card play, then you can earn either four points or seven! We’ve found those instances pretty elusive, however, and so we plod along the spiral of lily pads slowly to the end.
That said, the luck (which is understandable) and the length (which is fixable) are fairly minor, really. I think the greater potential issue lies in the mechanics vs. the theme vs. the target audience. The box recommends ages 10 and older, which is the average 5th grader. Now whether that reasoning is for complexity or safety testing regulations, I don’t know. Regardless, the abstract, puzzle nature of movement is certainly at the level for a 5th grader and even 8-9 year olds. Children younger than that can certainly play and understand the basic rules, but will not generally make the most optimal moves in covering unwanted stacks and/or uncovering needed colors.
On the flip side, the theme is a bit childish for the recommended age, although it certainly attracts the younger ones. As such, Hey Froggy! has a bit more limited scope, appealing to a brief and specific age range. I played it with a 1st grader who liked it, but really didn’t grok how to effectively move the frogs. And I’ve played with my own 5th-graders who get how to manipulate the stacks, but were decidedly “meh” with playing again. I’d say it would fit nicely with 3rd and 4th graders, for the most part. But essentially, it’s an older kid’s game dressed in a younger kid’s box. Is it amphibian or reptile?
The production value is very good. The artwork and plastic frogs are cute and friendly. The frogs stack nicely, which is essential since you will be fiddly with them a lot. The card stock and tokens are thick and sturdy. The choice of color is also unique – with the pastel player pieces (and one black) contrasting nicely with the primary colors of the frogs. The game also plays just as well with any number in the recommend 2-4 player range.
Hey Froggy! is a fine game, albeit with some limited age appeal. For the right kids, it will help develop analytical thinking skills, though they may quickly outgrow it. The theme will fit younger ones and introduce them to more logical, puzzle-style concepts that are hobby standards, though they’ll need constant coaching or helpful hints. By and large, it just may fit your collection for kids in the middle of elementary school, and especially as a crossover introductory title to bring out for friends and family not familiar with better kids/family games than Sorry or Life.
iSlaytheDragon would like to thank R&R Games for providing a review copy of Hey Froggy!