Wednesday, January 05, 2011

New Games - Water Lily

So Asmodee sent me some games a few weeks ago.

Six of them and one expansion, actually, spread out across two bundles of goodness.

Water LilyIntrigoGosuand Mr. Jack Pocket, Sobek, Tikal II, and Formula D (well, not the core game - the third set of new tracks, containing Singapore and The Docks).

So far, I have played three of the four. These games highlight the strength and diversity of Asmodee's current portfolio, and I'm going to discuss all four of them - but not all at one time.

I've got to keep you coming back somehow, right?

This week, I'm going to discuss Water Lily.  At first glance, it was the one of the four that least interested me. The bright colorful art made it look like a children's game, and the fact that the rulebook was so thin didn't do anything to dispel that idea. And I'm not alone in that - if you look at it on, it's described as a Children's Game.

Reading through the rules, however, I began to get the idea that there might be more to the game than there first appeared to be. There are only eight rules - and they're spelled out very clearly in a fairly large font. The translation is very well-done (and, before you ask, I didn't have a hand in this one).

And then I tried it.

This game was the biggest surprise of the four.  What starts as an easy "advance-the-pieces and score the points" quickly turns cutthroat. The memory element adds an additional wrinkle that is really the key to the game.

At the start of play, the frog tokens are stacked on the platforms furthest from the "pond." Setup is fixed. Then the players draw a token to (secretly) determine which color of frog is worth points to thenm.

On a player's turn, they chose a stack and then move the top frog in that stack in a straight line.  That frog can move  a number of spaces equal to the number of frogs in its stack.  When they reach the end of the lily pads, they slide into a scoring groove. The grooves are covered, so you have to remember which grooves contain how many frogs to maximize your points.

Unlike race games, you don't want to be the first one into each groove - the first frog is only worth one point. You want to be fourth. Both because that's 4 points and because later frogs in that groove are worth zero points.

There are five colors of frog.  Once the last frog of any color is removed from the board, the game ends. You remove the cover from the chutes, and determine a winner.

It's very simple, but it's a lot more cutthroat than you'd suspect, given its cute art.

Edit: And, of course, in the same week I schedule this post, Tom Vasel posts his video review. He didn't like it as well as I did, and called it "quick" and "light," neither of which fit my experience.  Well, maybe it's a bit quick - but it's cutthroat and not light. It leads me to wonder who his opponents were. If you play it with young kids, it won't be cutthroat at all. If you play it with my usual group, it becomes an exercise in brutality.


  1. Thanks for the review. About how long does a game take?

    I'd also like to request that you review Tikal 2 next. My wife and I loved Tikal and didn't even know there was a sequel in the works.

  2. It takes between 30 and 40 minutes once people know what they're doing.

    I'll take another look at Tikal 2 with an eye towards detailing it - I hope to play it again this evening.