Ribbit is a board game in which 2-5 young players (5-10) race to get their frog to the finish line. The next thing you need to know is that it is designed by one of the most prolific, and reliably innovative designers in the industry: Reiner Knizia.
There are 5 wooden frogs, each of a different color. Selecting from a small stack of 5 cards, one for each frog, each player secretly determines which frog she wants to be the winner. There’s also a deck of movement cards. These cards determine which frog gets moved how many spaces, forward or back. Some cards apply only to the frog that is furthest behind. These cards help to make sure that all the frogs stay in the race.
Players take 5 cards from the deck of movement cards and decide which card they want to play. If one frog ends its turn on a space (lily pad, of course) that is already occupied, that frog jumps on top of the other frog’s back. If a player wants to move that other frog, both frogs get moved. Here again we see an innovative, and strategically significant play principle. If the frog you want to win is on the bottom of a frog pile, every time you try to move closer to the goal (the pond), you move everyone else closer as well.
The fact that players don’t really know what frog each player wants to win adds but mystery and an opportunity to be deductively as well as analytically engaged. Younger players may not be canny enough to appreciate this particular subtlety, but older players will find it engaging and suspenseful.
All these factors (secret frogs, frog piles, the “last frog” movement cards) result in a unique play experience for young children – and yet, none of the various innovations are too challenging or difficult for them to learn. A great contribution where great contributions are most needed.