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When the Frogs Knock Over the Trees

Check out these uncomfortably attractive frogs in their sex poses.

Chaos. The whispered curse. When a game is labeled as capricious, we hardly expect further explanation. “Too random,” we say, like that’s answer enough, like there’s no difference between types of chance, like nobody could appreciate a game for the chaos it flings in our faces. It’s the leprosy of the modern board game scene.

I’ve already written about Jim Felli’s Cosmic Frog. Now that it’s finally here, my thoughts on the matter haven’t transformed. Like the rest of Felli’s work, Cosmic Frog is distinctive: an offbeat setting, messy rulebook, reasonably straightforward play, and a social space that relies on the investment of its players to mark the line between an unremarkable slog and one of the weirdest competitions in recent memory. Its finished incarnation isn’t all that different from the preview version, either. The main change is a variant that adds even more chaos.

That’s its defining element, what will float or scupper it with audiences, what marks it as worthy of investigation: chaos. So let’s take a look at the many ways it handles chance, and why this particular pile-on gives it such flair.

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Catan, Carcassonne, Cosmic Frog


The other day my buddy punched my sister-in-law into the fifth dimension. Upon returning to our reality she got revenge by shoving her tongue down his throat, extracting the forest he’d been storing in his gullet, and using it to create a pocket universe.

That’s really all you need to know about Jim Felli’s upcoming game, Cosmic Frog. But if you absolutely must hear more, I’ll add that Felli is known for Shadows of Malice, Bemused, Dûhr: The Lesser Houses, and Zimby Mojo — deeply weird stuff, in other words — and somehow Cosmic Frog, with its kilometers-tall amphibians, planet-shattering hailstones, and dimensional buffoonery, is by far his most accessible title yet.

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