Long before lush components were the norm for every board game Kickstarter, Fraser and Gordon Lamont of Scotland created Fragor Games in 2004. Fragor published 12 games in total, one per year from 2004 through 2015. For anyone that got into the hobby more recently, these games were gorgeous! They had beautiful components a decade before that was common.
The most highly ranked game published by Fragor is Snow Tails, followed by Shear Panic, but the OG has its own opinions. So here we’ll tell you about our favorite Fragor games and why they deserve a reprint with the modern Kickstarter treatment.
- Simon: This is my favourite of the Fragor Games with trying to outwit your opponents by moving frogs over each other. There is an undeniable huge amount of randomness and luck in the game but it delivers a fun experience in a very short runtime. To me, this game does what it says on the tin and was produced at a time before Team Fragor moved towards component quality over gameplay.
Shear Panic (2005)
- Talia: The sheep components in this game are just utterly adorable and the puns are worth a chuckle or two. Underneath the silly facade is a cutthroat, chess-like abstract that forces you and your opponents to vie mercilessly for position in the herd. The four-round structure that shifts from jostling for the front, back, and proximity positions keeps you on your toes. And the one-and-done action chart compels you to make difficult decisions every step of the way. This game was so well received that it got a Mayfair reprint in 2006, along with German, Polish, Italian, and Dutch editions. Anyone looking for a vicious abstract with cute and cuddly components need look no further than Shear Panic.
- Fraser: I agree totally with Talia. “Anyone looking for a vicious abstract with cute and cuddly components need look no further than Shear Panic.”
- Dale: This is my favourite of the Fragor Games with trying to outwit your opponents by moving sheep on the board. It delivers a fun experience in a very short runtime. To me, this game does what it says on the box and was produced at a time before Team Fragor moved towards component quality over gameplay – for me, this was the last Fragor game that I have kept in the game collection.
- Matt: This is the only game I own and the only one I’ve played. It’s still in my collection probably only because of the cute little sheep. It really is kind of an abstract-style game, which I normally lean away from, but here the sheep give it just enough “theme” to keep it from being too dry for my tastes.
Snow Tails (2008)
- Larry: I’ve never cared for racing games. In fact, there’s only one pure racing game that I have any interest in playing and it’s Snow Tails. But I LOVE Snow Tails! The central card mechanism for the movement of your sleds is exceedingly elegant, gives you interesting decisions throughout, and introduces just the right amount of uncertainty and angst. The Fragors did a wonderful job in designing the courses–they’re all evilly constructed, in the best way possible, and lead to dramatic and highly enjoyable outcomes. This is easily my favorite Fragor game and one I’d be happy to pull out at my next game session. Mush!
- Fraser: A good fun racing game, possibly made much more fun since most of my family have barely even seen snow, let alone raced in it! I used to play this (and the later version) occasionally with the kids. I think it has mainly suffered due to too many games, too little time syndrome, as I don’t remember that we had any issues with it. The drift system was good and from memory the biggest change from the original to the new version was the much more modular board so you could have a greater variety in course layouts.
- Dan: A very good racing game: it has interesting tactical and strategic decisions (not too many of the latter, but it’s a simple game), the outcome is often in doubt until very near the end, and even when there is a runaway leader and/or a fallaway trailer, it’s short enough that this isn’t a problem.
- Mark Jackson: One of the great racing games… which my Star Wars-obsessed son notes is actually a pod-racing game cleverly disguised as a sled dog racing game.
- Alan How: I really enjoy racing games and for me this is the designed Fragor game where the gameplay dominates the presentation and not the other way round. I do remember the fun of Fragor: pre Essen show drinks, lots of laughs and good humour all the time. This game brings back the best of those memories.
Savannah Tails (2009)
- Fraser: It’s a long time since I have played this, but I remember playing and teaching this quite a few times and everyone liked it. I really should bring it out again sometime.
- Talia: Even though I tracked down a hard-to-find used copy a few years ago, I’d still love to see this gem get reprinted because it is so incredibly wonderful. The open sandbox gameplay of building your personal anthill is reminiscent of the joy that can be found in Kramer & Kiesling’s 2000 classic Java. I adore the way that you are torn between building your anthill up to gain more powerful actions and building your anthill out to ensure you have access to a wider variety of actions. On top of that, the scoring system is brilliant because you have to cover up precious action spaces in order to secure points. The way in which your ant pieces are added to the board takes some time to really wrap your head around because it’s not entirely intuitive, but the mechanism ultimately works well and ensures some measure of predictability to avoid unpleasant surprises as you race across the board to grab valuable prey and leaves. Antics is just such a unique and enjoyable game for 3-4 players that I wish everyone could try it and more easily pick up a copy.
Poseidon’s Kingdom (2011)
- Tery: I own this gorgeous game thanks to a friend gifting it to me. It was expensive when it came out due to the quality and complexity of the components, and I had always regretted not buying a copy, since I love oceans and the beach and everything that goes along with them. However, it is a bit of an anomaly for me, because my love for this game has more to do with the beautiful production values than for the gameplay itself. Basically, on your turn you put your dice in the random wave machine, which will get flipped over when it is full, distributing the dice in it across the board. When that happens you hope you have moved one of your creature pieces to a spot that the dice landed on, so you can pick up dice you need to get victory point tokens. It’s fun enough, and it is a good game to play with families or other people who don’t want to play something too competitive, but there isn’t enough strategy for this to hit my table on a regular basis. However, the innovative, attractive components and the art on the box keep it on my shelf.
- Lorna: While I like some of the other games listed above, I’ll put a plug in for Dragonscroll. It has the Flaming Tower of Death after all! You could roll marbles down the chute and try to knock off your enemy’s forces.
So which of these Fragor gems was your favorite? Do you prefer the game of frogs, sheep, sled dogs, ostriches, ants, dragonlings, or an ocean adventure? We didn’t even mention Hameln (2006), Antler Island (2007), Spellbound (2012), Snow Tails 2 (2013), and A Game of Gnomes (2015).