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Bears & Bees – Hobby World – Review

Theme and What is it?

You are a bear scientist. As such, like Winnie the Poo, you care only for honey. 
Is this realistic? Can bears really be scientists? The answer is no of course not. If you want real, watch reality TV, this sir, is much more about using your imagination to create a set of circumstances that allows you to get the most out of your honey seeking.  

Gameplay Mechanics

This is a trick “taking” game, which is a misnomer. It is actually more of trick giving, and planning ahead for your own benefit. For every card you play, there are secondary effects. 

If you draw honey, your card may allow you to draw more honey if your neighbor plays a honey collection card. If you use a different card, it may not allow you to do anything based on the neighbors actions. 

This is where the planning of the game comes in. If you think your neighbor will use the swarm mechanism, you may want to play a card that gives you a bonus for that action. This is all about planning just a bit ahead.

I say this is a take that game, but again, that is not really correct. It is more of a “I am going to take that, based on your actions game,” so maybe, a “Gimme That” mechanism. 

Initial Impressions

I had no idea what to think about this game when I came upon it as Spiel. It was in Russian after all. 

When the HobbyWorld folks told me it is language independent with English rules inside, and I could play it with my daughter, I was sold.

Game Build Quality

The cards are huge! The honey is wood in the hex shape that honeycomb is always in. The build of the game just makes sense. 

Did I mention the cards are H-U-G-E?

Artistic Direction

The art for me evokes a silly russian bear. 

Perhaps I read into the fact that a Russian Language company is publishing the game, but it just felt oddly reminiscent on a Russian version of the American favorite, Yogi the Bear crossed with Winnie the Pooh. Throw in some Russian, and a laboratory and a gas mask, and you have Bears & Bees.

Obviously, as a reviewer, we draw on our own experiences. I am sure, to someone in Russia, the art may evoke something else entirely, and it may be an unfair simile, but for me, it makes sense.

All in all, I love the artistic design, and find it fun, and making sense in the world they have created.

Fun Factor

Everything you do, has a possible future effect. This is an interesting take on a format that of Take That, that many people do not like. 

It takes the part of take that, which people complain about, and rectifies it, by allowing a person to plan future turns out by the benefit they get, rather than the negative things you can do to someone else.

The worst you can do, is give someone too much honey, cause a swarm at an inopportune time, or not allow them to get the bonus based on their card placement. This largely goes away in a larger game, more than two players, as you cannot avoid the rock, paper, scissors format in larger groups of play. Now, you can only decide who gets a bonus, rather than who you will hurt.

All in all, it is a neat new mechanic, that doesn’t feel new.

Age Range & Weight

7+. My daughter is 6, and understood most of it quite well. 

With a few playthroughs, I think any child who has enough table time could grasp the game. I would think many kids as young as 5 could grasp the idea, and though it may take time to grasp the scoring system, they could play the underlying mechanics with little to no help.

It reminds me of learning euchre growing up, I knew trump and left trump, and how to take tricks, but had a hard time remembering what people had played, and how many tricks we had to get to win. Children will also understand this game, but may not understand the “end game.”

Conclusions

Bees like honey. This is of course known. 

The unknown was whether this game could stand up to the offerings at Essen Spiel. It does, and easily.

It does so by creating a new twist on an old mechanic. Hobby World sent MeepleGamers home with two of their newest releases, and this play has me very interested in seeing the second title in action. The design elements such as how “games are supposed” to be in the western market, do not apply to this title. It stands on its own, in a fun and unique way. 

I hope Hobby World remembers MeepleGamers, I want to see what they bring out in the next few years.