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The Bears And The Bees

Build the hive, deploy worker bees and drones, enjoy the flowers, and avoid those honey stealing bears — they only get in the way!

From Grandpa Beck's Games comes The Bears and the Bees, a family-friendly tile laying card game, in which players compete to be the first to play all their cards.

Gameplay

The game consists of a deck of hexagonal cards. The queen card is placed in the center of the table and the rest of the deck is shuffled. A second card is then drawn and placed adjacent to the queen. Each player is dealt eight to nine cards, depending on the player count. The goal is to be the first to get rid of all your cards.

Each edge of each card shows a color. The majority of the cards are honeycombs and each one has two-to-three colors spread out across its six edges. In order to play a card onto the table, at least two edges of your card must be matching colors to two edges they are adjacent to. Some cards show honey on the edge, which acts as a wild that can be matched with any color. The queen has honey on each side, and only honeycombs can be played adjacent to it.

On your turn you must play one card from your hand, and then may choose to play a second card adjacent to this first card. If you match three or more sides when playing either card, you may play additional cards before your turn ends. The more sides that match when you play a single card, the more additional cards you may play. If, when playing one of these additional cards, you match three or more sides, you can earn even more additional plays, creating a combo effect.

Some cards in the deck have additional abilities. When you play a worker bee card, it forces another player to draw a card. The more sides that match, the more cards must be drawn. You may choose whether to have just one player draw all the cards, or spread them out among your opponents. Each flower card shows one single color on all six sides. When you play one of these it forces everyone to draw a card, and the more sides that match the more cards they each have to draw.

When you play a bear, it is the only card you may play that turn. It does not need to match two sides of the cards you are playing it adjacent to, but one side must be adjacent to a card edge showing honey. No other cards may be played adjacent to bears.

If there is not a legal move for you to play at the start of your turn, you must either draw a card or discard two cards and draw two. If you discard a bear, you must draw three.

The round ends once a player is out of cards. Everyone earns points based on the cards still in their hands (honeycombs are worth five points each, bears fifteen, and all other cards are worth ten). The game is then reset and a new round starts. The player with the fewest points at the end of three rounds wins the game.

The Bears and the Bees Components

Review

The Bears and the Bees has a simple concept while still giving you room to pull off some clever plays and interesting combos. The fact that each card you play can potentially earn you even more bonus plays, is a nice mechanism that can be extremely satisfying when you pull off some clever combinations.

There’s a nice balance of player interaction and focusing on your own puzzle. You want to force others to draw, while also trying to get rid of your own as quickly as possible, and setting yourself up for great card combinations, which all leads to a lot of elements to consider when you decide which cards to play and where to add them to the hive.

Depending on what size surface you play on, there is also a bonus rule that states if you reach the edge of the table, no more cards can be played on that side. This can potentially add an additional layer to the gameplay as you keep an eye on the space still available to you.

While you can play The Bears and the Bees with two players, it’s not the game at its best. The game shines when there are multiple players building out the hive, giving everyone more options and also throwing more obstacles in your way.

The game looks quite pretty. The cards are bright and colorful, so as the hive grows bigger and spreads out across the table it’s very eye-catching. The artwork on the card backs is also lovely, while the bears are adorable and the bees nicely detailed.

It is easy to teach or learn the game, but you might need to double-check the rulebook a couple times as you play to remind yourself what the special card types do and how they trigger. Player aid cards would have been a good addition here.

The Bears and the Bees is simple but fun with enough player interaction and interesting possibilities each turn to keep it engaging without losing that simplicity.

Pros: Aesthetics, ability to make multiple card combinations, player interaction

Cons: No player aid cards, not it’s best at two players

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.