With an age rating of six and upwards and lasting just ten minutes per game, you’d be forgiven for passing Flip Over Frog off as a pure children’s game. Whilst it is aimed at younger players and perhaps portable gaming, there’s a lot more fun to be had here than meets the eye.
Flip Over Frog comes in the smallest of boxes, and contained within you’ll find a small board that folds out into four leaves, four circular frog tokens (one for each colour scheme) and then a good handful of square shaped tokens. Each component is bright, bold and well made, and my suspicion is that the card stock is thick enough to withstand the rigours that most children will put the pieces through.
The concept here is simple, but there’s more to the strategy than your average six year old will grasp. First of all, each player will secretly choose a circular frog token, which will determine their team colonies for the rest of the game. Any frogs not chosen must be put back in the box facedown so as not to reveal which colours are not being represented during the game.
Each player is then dealt three of the face-down square tokens from a stack that is also maintained face down as a central supply. On each turn, the active player will simply place one of their tokens onto the board face-up, then they will flip any frogs that are adjacent to them in the direction of the white arrows shown on the frog they just placed. Simplifying this a bit, the arrows point either outwards at the corners (diagonally) or towards each side (orthogonally). Frogs may be placed on top of other frogs that are already face down.
Just in case it wasn’t obvious, the aim of the game here is to be the player with the most face-up frogs, at the point where the whole board is full, or in the unlikely event that every single frog has been placed (which only happens if lots are placed on other face-down frogs.) End game scoring is a simple count — how many of your frogs are face up compared to each other colour. There are no secret or secondary objectives, it’s exactly that simple.
But, honestly, it’s not that simple, is it? Not if you’re six, or seven, or ten even. Flip Over Frog does brilliantly at appealing to audiences of all age groups, but where older and younger players combine, it can be a bit of a mismatch. What I mean by this is that the concept of strategically placing frogs to flip up to four others whilst also considering your own long term position is far beyond a six year old, and it’s something that I found only kids of about ten and often older really grasp properly.
There’s also the memory and luck management aspects to contend with. Sometimes — often even — you’ll need to remember which frogs are face down, and there’s also the complexity of frogs that are now stacked (which remain back to back forever) flipping. Younger players also struggle to comprehend a hand of three tokens that may not include their own colour and the nuances that demands in terms of placement.
All that said, Flip Over Frog is playable by just about anyone and it’s actually a fantastic travel, or small, game for adult players. Whilst the gameplay is simple and fast-paced, there’s a lot going on under the hood as I’ve described, and that ensures an experience that is more fun than you’ll probably expect based on the box.
Flip Over Frog is a small, simple and well-made game that has an elegant design that can grow with your children. You’ll need to forgive younger children for their possible lack of strategic vision, but if you hope that your kids will play heavier games in the future, there are fewer better places to start than here.
You can find Flip Over Frog on Amazon.
Looking to get your friends or family into board games? Check out our list of great, accessible games, perfect for just that, here.