Board Game Review

Battletoads? (Bullfrogs)

This game gives me serious trust issues in my ability to plan ahead. This game is by no means complicated, heavy or difficult to understand.. But to master? I mean, can you ever master something that makes you second guess every move or action you take?

A very brief overview of the brilliant Bullfrogs:

  • Every player takes on the role of a frog army, fighting for dominance over a pond.
  • Players have an army of frogs and 2 bullfrogs to use. Frogs counts as 1 and can be sabotages and moved whereas bullfrogs count as 2 and cannot be moved.
  • Players place cards from their individual hands, made up of their own specific deck, to create the pond and lily pads.
  • Players can then take actions up to the number indicated on the card played.
  • They can deploy frogs or bullfrogs equal to the symbol in the corner of their lily pad card on cards horizontal or vertical to their card.
  • Or they can move other peoples frogs from tiles horizontal or vertical to that card into adjacent tiles.
  • Lily pads have a limit to the number of frogs they can sustain, once it is hit the pad sinks.
  • Sunk pads are passed onto the player with the strongest battle ability on the card.
  • Frogs on the card can jump, one at a time, to adjacent tiles with only one jumping in each direction, the losing player having their frogs jumped first, then their bullfrogs, and the winning player choosing whose frogs go where.
  • All frogs left on the pad are returned to players and all bullfrogs are removed from play.
  • Any pads no longer adjacent to others must be moved and arranged so they are, all by the current player.
  • There is also a central log that scores at the end for number of frogs and most powerful force present there. Nothing can be removed from the log and you cannot deploy frogs to the log from a just placed card.
  • Play ends when no more lily pads are available to play from player’s hands.
  • Scores are calculated by victory points from the gained cards, number of frogs on the log, and +3 for dominating the log.
Actions represented by the lily pads in the top left corner.

We picked it up very quickly. The rules were difficult to get wrong but we were still cautious.

Two armies battle it out for pondomination!

It was simple enough. Control areas, sabotage enemies and sink lily pads tactically enough to cause chain reactions. And yet, every move is crucial! It’s simple, easy and tense! I mean properly tense. You can have a battle plan, play your card ready, choose where your frogs are going and sabotage appropriately… and then someone moves that lily pad and ruins everything! There aren’t words to describe how intense it can be.

The war rages on without a clear winner…

It’s a children’s game for goodness sake! We were tying our minds in knots over a game for a game that is recommended 8+. We played 2 player first whilst we got the rules and it was very easy to grasp, we found ourselves checking the rules only to ensure we had it correct. But as we got into it we established how quickly the game turns and established that 3 player would be mad. So we went for 3 players and found we couldn’t plan for anything at all. Everything was done on the fly and any plans we had were half baked and not entirely beneficial. The best tactic we found was to get the bullfrog on a central tile with 3 or 4 spots and to trigger chain reactions where possible, but the moment someone could rearrange the pond that went to pot. The other way to score it to get frogs onto the central log that doesn’t sink, however they are then stuck there meaning you may lose a bullfrog beneficially, but you may also lose a very powerful counter only to lose the log at the end anyway. We never found that any one player was confidently winning, all our scores were in the 50s but one decently won lily pad would have swung it in another player’s favour.

Three armies enter the carnage.

Explaining the game is tremendously easy as well. Me and D both read the rules to grasp it, however once we knew it by heart explaining it to my partner was very easy. The rules come across very comprehensively and make the game sound denser than it is, however learning by playing seems the fastest and most beneficial way to learn (from my experience!). My partner’s tactic was clear madness, but it worked. She simply sacrificed her bullfrogs early game to gain the big points, and then rode the game to the end. I was far more tactical, forcing chain reactions for cheap points. It looked like chaos, but I’d argue I was organised! I only won because I had the most frogs on the log, but it was touch and go throughout!

Pros

  1. Very simple to pick up and very comprehensive rules.
  2. Excellent quality minis, the frog meeple are fantastic.
  3. It allows a tactical player to be just that, but also allows for opportunists to cash in where possible.
  4. It’s actually really fun for what it is.
  5. It makes you think and reevaluate your plans.
  6. There are multiples of ways to score that all count in the final moments.
  7. There’s no obvious winner throughout the game; at no moment do you feel helpless!

Cons

  1. For a light, filler game, it could take a long time. As tactical players, we spent far too long planning each move to no avail.
  2. It can be perceived as not age appropriate, 8+ may be too young for such tactics.
  3. If you miss any player’s turn you will be completely out of the loop of what is happening.
  4. When playing for opportunity, you’ll see the pond shift a lot and it can cause a lot of confusion.

I got this game at a huge discount and probably would never have heard of it not sought after it otherwise. Honestly, I think it’s fantastic. The level of tactics and thinking required make it a brilliant warm up game/filler. I would genuinely recommend it and it’s a game I’ll be going back to as a filler/warm up!