An improv theatre game for 5 to 10 players ages 10 and up
by Hans-Peter Stoll and Andrea Meyer
Illustration: Fréderic Bertrand
Artwork: Sebastian Wagner
Translation: William Attia, Andrea Meyer, Tery Noseworthy, Jeff Sumner
Languages: German, English, French
Length of a game: ca. 20 minutes
Freeze is nearly sold out. You can buy remainders with a hand-copied rulebook for 20.00 EUR plus package and postage. Click here for your order.
1. edition (444 copies, numbered by hand, October 2010), sold out.
2. edition (500 copies, January 2011)
A small theatre. Six spectators in the first row. Two men and two women are standing on the otherwise empty stage. While one woman commands "And left ... and right ... and left ... and faster", two others are rowing in the air. The other man watches them, his arms folded in front of his body, smiling, before he says: "Well done! And now repeat this backwards, and GO!" As the commander wants to answer, the spectators shout "Freeze!" and the actors freeze in their movements ...
You have known Improv-theatre since you watched "Curb your enthusiasm"? And you always wondered "How are they able to do that?" Freeze lets you it in your gaming group!
Four players enter the stage together and improvise a scene in a situation only they know. Each of them knows their personal rank which the others shall guess later. The actors' task is to act out their rank so obviously that the others can guess it.
But do not fear: There is no need to have studied acting in order to win with Freeze. Just react to what the others are doing in the 45-seconds-long scene, or laugh yourselves away, no matter if you are spectator or actor ...
- 10 badges with scoring track (0-21) and 1 paperclip each
- 10 player cards (same pictures as on the badges)
- 1 card each "stage" and "auditorium"
- 8 rank cards (2 times 1-4 each)
- 40 situation cards with 4 places each
- 1 four-sided die
- 1 sand timer (45 seconds)
- 1 rulebook
Karin, Hans-Peter, Gisela, and William are standing on the stage. Each has received a rank card which they looked at secretly. Now they read together word #3 on the situation card: "at the gaming night".
Andrea flips the sandtimer and says "And action!"
Gisela has the "1" on her rank card and takes over command. She says "Now, come on, let's start. Get out the game!" Hans-Peter runs over the the edge of the stage and starts rummaging. Karin says: "Are we going to play Modern Art? I love the game!" William grumbles "Not again, always the same!" Gisela says: "No, we decided that last week already, today we are going to play Settlers!" Hans-Peter coyly asks: "So, what are we going to play?" Karin shouts "Modern Art", William turns away: "I am not going to play, then, I have to go to bed soon, anyway!" Gisela angrily says: "Now, come on, let's start settling, and you" - she points at Karin - "are going to start!" Karin grumbles, but follows.
As she wants to sit down, the spectators shout "Freeze!" und all actors and actresses freeze in their movement.
Frequently asked questions:
Each set of rules is only as good as the creativity of those who write it. We tried to explain all contingencies and anything unclear, however, experience shows that this usually only has limited success. Plus: In general each mistake or missing information in a set of rules will be found sometime. And most probably somebody will try it, for whatever reason.
Hence here is a list of questions on the rules of "Freeze", which will be updated regularly. If you have an open question not answered here yet, email it to info [at] bewitched-spiele.de, you will get an answer asap. THANK YOU!
it is possible that players have to enter the stage in two following rounds. This is always the case if less than 8 players are playing.
you must not say the play nor your own rank when you are on stage.
it does not make sense not to point at yourself if you have the rank indicated. You will receive 5 negative points for this and your other guess if there is any will not be counted, either.
Andreas Buhlmann (Cliquenabend) and co-designer Hans-Peter Stoll explain and show in a (German) video how Freeze is played. Worth viewing!
At the Boardgamegeek-booth in Essen Hans-Peter Stoll and I explained Freeze in English.
The Japanese translation was provided by Nobuaki Takerube a.k.a. "Tak". Thanks a lot.
22.07.2011 Udo Bartsch asks in the Spielbox 4/2011: "Where does this buzz for Freeze come from? Why does not anybody want to stop playing?" and gives himself the "simple answer: Laughing is simply fun! And there are enough reasons for laughing: When actors try to figure out their ranks and get lost in misunderstandings and nonsense-dialogues. When four guys draw the situation 'at the nail parlour' and play the scene so professionally as if they had the golden loyalty card."
14.06.2011: In June those gaming with Udo Bartsch, member of the Jury Spiel des Jahres, preferred playing Freeze. Thanks!
28.05.2011: Klemens Franz writes in the Austrian newspaper "Die Presse": "Besides, there are [...] different lists of recommendations. These represent a wide variety. There are innovative titles such as Freeze, which has the players become improvisional actors, [...]"
23.05.2011: The Jury Spiel des Jahres recommends Freeze and writes: "If you are ready to play acting, you will be rewarded with loads of fun."
22.05.2011: Bernd Eisenstein writes in his blog: "my favourite for the main prize is Freeze. This is by far the most original game born in the past year."
17.05.2011: Jeff Allers, writer at Opinionated Gamers, names Freeze as one of his favourite things on the gaming table in 2010.
15.02.2011: Jeff Allers writes in his review of Freeze for Boardgamegeek.com: "Even the more introverted strategy gamers in our group enjoyed the experience, and several have purchased copies of the game for themselves as well as extra copies to give friends and family as gifts."
23.01.2011: On the Japanese website Table Games in the World Takuya Ono praises Freeze for the fun it creates.
02.12.2010: Tom Felber, member of the Jury "Spiel des Jahres", writes in the magazine "Schweizer Familie" (Swiss Family) among others: "Freeze combines gaming with improvisional theatre. [...] The spectators guess the ranks and have tons of fun."
07.08.2010: Preview by Tric Trac in French. Monsieur Phal comments that the aim is not really winning the game but rather laughing yourself away when others interpret acts differently than you do.
05.08.2010: Preview by Jeux sur un plateau in French. Among others Claude Lucchini writes that the game won't keep timid people from playing as your talent as an actor does not really count.
01.08.2010: Preview by Boardgamenews.
Hans-Peter Stoll (right) lives in Lampertheim in Germany. He is coach, trainer and owner of Stoll Training & Consulting. Freeze is his second game published, after he joined the Weilburg Seven project "Eine gegen eine". Hans-Peter loves playing improv theatre with the Mannheim-based Improtöre.
Andrea Meyer (left) is game designer, editor, and publisher, and owner of BeWitched-Spiele. Her first published game was "Stimmvieh" in 1998, she preferrably develops communicative and interactive games. So far she enjoyed improv theatre mainly as a spectator.
The two game designers have known each other for some years and moderated the German Game Designer Conference together. They have developed Freeze for a few years after first playing a very early version at the game designer workshop in Bödefeld.
Hans-Peter Stoll says: "When playing improv I keep experiencing fun and surprises on the stage, why not bring that to the gaming table? In Freeze we play with what we all experience every day in real life: People with high and low status meet, be it in the military training area or in court. What if the judge did not have the authority to tell his judgement? That would be very funny, even more so, if the state attorney with a low rank needs to find out together with the judge who has a lower status. Many gaming groups will enjoy new gaming fun with Freeze and will maybe also get to know their friends anew ... and action!
Andrea Meyer comments: "In all playtests Freeze caused my sides to ache from laughing so much. How can I forget the haunted house where two women in the (imaginary) car were nearly scared to death. What I especially like are the links between rounds or even games. If you've ever commanded hell as a number 1 and forced the others to make push ups, you should not be surprised if similar thinks later happen to you in other situations if you have a lower rank - and the spectators will love it ..."
Authors and publisher thank the translators, the lectors, and those who helped assembling the game.
Hans-Peter Stoll thanks his improvisational theatre group Improtöre for a lot of fun and inspiration.
Andrea Meyer thanks her wife Karin for her support und Christophe Hermier, the editor of the French version of Linq, for an important inspiration.
Protecting the environment
Producing games pollutes the environment, and producing Freeze did, too. When printing the rules of the game and the business cards for the badges, a total of 265 kg carbon dioxide (CO2) was emitted. That is about as much CO2 as you emitted if you drove a small car (Golf class) from New York to Knoxville. You can calculate here how much CO2 you are emitting.
We bought emission certificates covering the amount above. Thus, these certificates must not be used for other emissions any more and are compensating the emissions mentioned. That's a start ...