# of Players: 2-4
Length: 20 min.
This is a great game to teach kids about strategy games! Croak! is like a tile version of chess. Start by setting the tiles ‘pond side up’ in an 8×8 grid. Pick your color, then place your queen on a corner tile, with two of her servants on the tiles right next to her. When it’s your turn, move one of your pieces in any direction (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal). Flip over the tile and follow the rules for the picture on it. There are seven types of tiles:
1. Water Lily—you must bounce off a lily onto an adjacent tile. You cannot stay on a water lily.
2. Mosquito—works like an extra turn. When you land here, either move that same piece again, or leave it on the mosquito and move another frog.
3. Mud—this tile is like a ‘lose a turn.’ Here, flip your frog upside down; he’s now stuck in the mud. You must use your next turn to flip him right side up again.
4. Pike—these fish are vicious! If your frog lands on a pike, it’s eaten and is out of the game. Be careful: if your queen lands on a pike, you lose.
5. Reeds—these are a safe place. But they also don’t do anything special.
6. Logs—can hold 2 servants (even if they’re different colors), or one queen. If a queen is on a log, and someone moves their servant or queen onto it also, the queen is captured and the player she belongs to is out of the game.
7. Males—there are six different males, with two tiles depicting each. When a queen reaches one of these tiles, he gifts her with another servant, who is then placed on the tile next to the queen. On your next turn, you must move either the new servant, or the queen to a new tile.
Note: you have little circle pictures of each of the males, one set in each color of the queens. These are so you can keep track of which males’ kingdoms have gifted you a new servant. You may only accept one gift from each kingdom, so your queen cannot land on both tiles depicting the blue male and gain a servant from both.
The goal of the game is to eliminate the enemy’s, or enemies’ queen(s). To do this, simply land one of your frogs on the opponent’s queen’s tile. Yes! That means even a servant can take down a queen! But wait! There’s more! The tiles have three different backs—they depict the shallow section of the pond and the deep section. The backs with just reeds are the shallow side: you won’t run into any pikes, but you might find yourself stuck in the mud or stopped by reeds. The other backs, the deep end of the pond, contain the same types of tiles. You might notice that both of these have fish on them, that’s because you might find yourself nose to nose with a pike in the deep end of the pond. However, you won’t get stuck in the mud here.
The rules may seem a bit tricky, but once you get playing, it comes pretty easily. So come by and ‘dive in’ to the ponds of Croak. It gets a 9/10 from me!