Animal and nature themes are still trendy for board games. Finding a niche that has not yet been filled is not an easy task. That's exactly what Åke and Per from the Swedish publisher Frozen Maze Games have achieved with their dice game “Perilous Pond”. As frogs, the players go looking for food in the pond in the form of fireflies. We spoke to both of them about the development of the game. We were also able to test a prototype of the game. We also report on this in this article.
Perilous Pond is a compact, fast-paced dice game suitable for the whole family. All players have to move their frog over the water lilies and try to catch as many fireflies as possible in order to ensure the survival of their own species. Danger lurks underwater. The pike swims through the pond and preys on the frogs, making it difficult to find the valuable fireflies. We spoke to the game's two designers about the development of Perilous Pond spoken. An overview of the game can be found in the second part of the article.
The foundation for the game was laid in early 2021 during a brainstorming session between Åke and Per. The general direction of a nature/animal theme was already clear. Everyone brought three ideas with them, which were initially mainly mechanical Perilous Pond should develop.
Per's brainstorming contributions were inspired by dice games like Roll through the ages and Colt Express. This is also found in Perilous Pond a die result that “blocks” the die for the rest of the turn and you are faced with this result at the end of the turn.
Mechanically, the basic features of the game were soon established and were tested with close family and friends. Over time, the individual actions were further balanced. For some actions the color of the dice is not relevant, some results have to be carried out completely and for others it is up to the players whether and how they want to use the results.
The most important change that occurred during development is the objective cards. These also serve for balancing and help to compensate for missing “catch” actions by allowing other actions to be used as a source for fireflies if your own goal cards require this.
The theme of the game came a little later and is based, among other things, on a pragmatic consideration that was intended to keep costs low for a “hobby” publisher like Frozen Maze Games. It should be a topic that requires few individual illustrations. This is how the idea for the frog theme came about, which move over different colored water lilies and collect food there.
Last summer, another idea developed during a games fair where the game could be presented and tested. The crocodile was created as a small mini-expansion and can replace the pike in the game. Additionally, it has slightly different movement rules, adding a new layer to the game. A second mini-expansion is also currently in the works. It will allow manipulating dice results. The players collect points that they can spend on special actions in order to be able to influence the dice a little better.
Don't be a frog
The basic process of Perilous Pond is quickly explained. You roll the dice up to three times and can put the dice aside after each roll if the result is already correct. At the latest after the third roll or if you stop before then you have to apply the dice results. All actions relate to your own frog or the pond. The pond is a grid of water lily cards.
The dice each have six different symbols, all of which belong to an action. In addition, each die has its own color, which is relevant for some actions.
The “Walk” and “Jump” dice results must be fully resolved. All “jumping” results add up to one big jump, which can quickly make you fall into the water. If you land in the water, your turn ends immediately. After the first movement in your turn and after each jump, the water lily on which you started the action sinks slightly. The lilies may be fully visible, semi-submerged, or submerged (removed from the pond).
Water lilies can be influenced with the appropriate action. This depends on the color of the cube. You can manipulate a water lily card in the color of the die and either sink it further or let it rise and even put a card that has been removed from the pond back into the grid. The “Place Fireflies” action also depends on the color. You place a firefly in the color of the die on a water lily card that matches the color and is empty until then. These two dice results must also all be resolved as far as possible.
The last action the person whose turn it is can take is catching/pushing. The color of the die doesn't matter for this action. The range of the action is determined by the number of dice that show the result. For a die with this result you can catch a firefly at your frog's current position. If two dice show the result, you can also grab a firefly from an adjacent water lily. If you roll two dice or more you can also push away opposing frogs. These are then moved one card or fall into the water if there is no card in that spot.
A not so great pike
The sixth possible dice result is only relevant after the actual turn. If you roll the result “Pike”, the die must be put aside immediately and may not be rolled again. Depending on which of the rolls the pike was rolled, the dice are resolved one after the other. The pike moves to the nearest card of the color of the die. If a frog stands there, it will be frightened and lose a firefly.
Before it is the next person's turn, you can still complete goal cards. To do this, you must have carried out the required actions on your turn. There are fireflies as a reward. Initially you have three of these goal cards. After the fifth of ten rounds, you can exchange goal cards that have not yet been fulfilled and draw three unfulfilled goal cards.
The game ends after ten rounds. Before the final scoring, there is a majority scoring for the different firefly colors. As a reward there is another firefly. Now the points of all the fireflies collected are added up. Whites score 1 point, blues 2 points, yellows 3 points and reds 4 points. Whoever collects the most points wins the game.
Perilous Pond As a dice game, it is of course characterized by a not inconsiderable luck factor. Using the results of the dice as effectively as possible and asserting yourself against the other frogs in the constantly changing pond offers a sometimes tricky task on every turn. The game remains so accessible that it can be a relaxed after-work game.
The game plays quickly and smoothly. The individual moves don't take long and, once you've internalized the subtleties of the meaning of the dice color and the "forced" treatment of all results of a type, the rules are so slim that even casual players and children should be able to follow them without any problems. The game is also visually impressive. The water lily cards are beautifully designed, the fireflies have “the” classic shape and the wooden components are also solidly crafted, even in the prototype.
In a casual round, hoping for the right results and playing poker for an “even better” result offers entertaining entertainment. The interaction between the players can be found primarily in the manipulation of the pond (water lilies and fireflies). By the time it's your turn, the desired target water lily may have sunk or the valuable firefly may have been snatched away. But with the right dice results you can take revenge and set the pike on your opponent or simply push them into the water.
A fixed date for the start of the Kickstarter has not yet been set. The two hope that they can perhaps start crowdfunding in the fall. In a few weeks they will be relying more on advertising to draw attention to the project so that as many people as possible can join the project Kickstarter bookmark
The price of the game is expected to be between 20 and 30 euros, although nothing is set in stone yet. Compared to the current material, only the material of the cubes will change according to the current status. They will be made of wood in the finished game. In addition, the mini-expansions will of course be part of the Kickstartercampaign.
The two expect it to take around 12 months to produce the game after crowdfunding. Production of the game is expected to take place in Europe.
About Perilous Pond
Number of people: 2 – 4 people
Game idea: Per Sundin and Åke Forslund
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