After we completed the game of Munchkin, it was about 1am; too early to call it a night, too late to start anything lengthy. We decided to give Frag a try.
Frag is a paper board game version of popular first person shooters such as Doom and Quake. A strange idea, maybe, but it’s a little more social than a real first person shooter – not to mention the other fundamental differences. I think it could be best described as a fast-paced Robo Rally clone.
Like Munchkin, several people had already played it. The rules were short and quick to explain; the board easy to set up. Each player distributed 7 points among three characteristics – Accuracy, Speed, Health – so each player has different strengths and weaknesses. Power ups and Weapons are represented as cards, and there’s a third type of card that represents “meta game extras”. For example, I started out with a Lag card that could be used to make a player miss one turn.
Unlike Munchkin, an experienced player has a bit of an advantage at Frag, simply because he knows the dynamics of the game better. There are more variables to consider. Still, the game is so fast-paced and has a quite large random part that even a complete newbie isn’t all lost. The game is also a LOT faster than Munchkin, for the same reason: You can only “drag out” the game so much. Sooner or later, someone is just going to get lucky with the dice.
The major problem with Munchkin is the amount of bookkeeping involved. Bookkeeping isn’t the exactly right word. Let me explain: In a first-person shooter like Quake, a deceased player drops his weapons. The same happens in Frag. Weapons are represented as cards, which you can not put on the game board. So you end up playing a counter with a number to mark the spot, and another counter with the same number on the cards sitting at that spot. Add to this that several weapons have ammunition – which is persistent – and you soon have a huge mess of counters and little stacks of cards.
Frag is fun, no question about it, but it’s more a quick game where Munchkin is a slow game for a long evening. It took us about 90 minutes to complete the game, including setup and explaining the rules to the new players. Add some variety for slow or careful players and I still doubt you’ll end up with more than two hours per game. I am also not very sure how long Frag can keep up the fun factor. Like RoboRally, Frag probably will have fan-made boards soon, though, and a variety of boards will probably increase the game’s fun value.
If you like a fun, quick action game, have a largish table and do not mind the book-keeping / counter hell, then Frag is worth a try.