Line-Up, Bees! is what you would get if “chess” and “war” had a bee-shaped game-baby.
Jeremiah & Kara
Theme and What is it?
You are a honeybee, buzzing through the meadow. You’ve wanted to be a honeybee ever since you were a pupa, and today is your first day on the job. Your little bee arms are full of pollen – you know the queen will be impressed. Maybe you’ll be promoted!
Suddenly, another bee zooms past you – it’s a warrior bee from the rival hive! Your tiny heart leaps into your throat and you kick your wings into high gear, but your escape attempts are futile.
The warrior bee is too quick. In no time, he speeds up next to you and bops you on the head with his acorn spear. Pain radiates through your temples. Your arms go limp and the pollen you were so proudly carrying just moments before tumbles to the ground. Darkness encroaches on your vision and your dreams of glory and honor fade away as your bee body slowly drops from the sky.
Line-up Bees! Is an abstract card game where players are in charge of a little hive of bees. By managing their honey supplies and strategically maneuvering their bees, one player will conquer the other hive and bee crowned winner!
Line-up, Bees! is aptly named, mostly because there are two lines… of bees. Each player has 8 bee cards of 5 different types. Players place 7 of their bees in a face-down row across from their opponent’s bee-row. The 8th card is placed off to the side in the reserve. Then the queen and pupa cards are flipped up, but the rest stay face-down. During the game players will roll dice to reveal and activate their bees. They’ll move their honeybees around to collect honey so their hive doesn’t starve and maneuver their guard bees to defeat their opponent’s queen. The game ends either when a player doesn’t have any honey at the start of their turn, or when a player successfully flips their opponent’s queen bee face down.
The bee activations each turn are based on die rolls. Some games, a lot of honeybees will activate, granting the players extra honey which allows them to take more turns and really get into the heart of the strategy of this game. Other times, no honeybees are rolled, and the game is over after 2 turns. There is a lot of good potential here, but it seems like it could use a little more fine tuning.
The first time I played, the game lasted for about five minutes. When my 3rd turn started, I didn’t have any honey left in my hive so my bees accidentally starved to death. Whoops! I reflected on the game, and it seemed like it was entirely luck based – dice rolls determined which bees activated each round, and my honeybees were never rolled. They never had a chance! What a lousy deal!
I decided to play again to see if the game had any merit at all because I didn’t want to have to write a terrible review. I found that the more I played, the more I was able to develop a strategy. I started moving my bees around better, using their abilities more effectively, and maneuvering my warrior bees to try to bop my opponent’s queen on her little bee head before my opponent could do the same to me. I discovered that while there is still quite a bit of luck involved, there is still enough strategy to keep the game interesting.
The rulebook for Line-Up, Bees! was really difficult to decipher. Some rules were really vague or poorly explained which made the game difficult to understand. I read it three times before I played the first time, and it wasn’t until after my 9th or 10th play that things finally became clear. I think.
Game Build Quality
Line-Up, Bees! Comes with 18 cards, 2 triangular dice, and a handful of honey tokens packaged in a bright yellow box. The cards and tokens are thin, but you will only be picking them up, setting them down and flipping them, so it’s fine. The box is sturdy, and it has an insert that keeps the cards and tokens from shifting around too much while the game is stored.
One thing that I don’t like about the insert is that the space for the cards is too large for the cards to fit super snugly, but too small for you to get your finger under the cards and pull them all out at once. This means you have to just turn the box over and gently dump everything out onto the table when you want to play.
Ultimately, the quality could be better, but it’s fine for what the game is.
The illustrations in Line-Up, Bees! are super cute! Each type of bee has its own adorable picture and ability. The abilities are shown in symbols at the bottom of the card which helps the game to be language independent. The problem with the symbology though is that the symbol meanings are not obvious or intuitive. In fact, I’ve played enough times now to have the abilities memorized (which doesn’t take very long because there are only 5 different kinds of bees) and I still don’t know what some symbols are trying to show. But there are only a handful of symbols used in the game — players will memorize them quickly and then the symbology won’t even bee an issue.
Line-Up, Bees! is a kind of hit-and-miss. Sometimes you’ll play a game where everything goes well, and it’s so fun! Like “chess” and “war” had a bee-shaped game-baby. Then there are other times that the dice never roll what you need, your honeybees never come into play and your hive starves on your third turn. But even though I had quite a few unlucky games, I still had enough fun that I wanted to try again immediately after. There is definitely a lot of luck involved in this game, but there is potential for strategy as well. As with many abstract games, the strategy in Line-Up, Bees! is the kind of strategy that will develop as players become more familiar with the game.
Age Range & Weight
Line-Up, Bees! gets weightier the more you play it, because the more you play it the more you’re able to play with an actual strategy. You notice more things, you’re more aware of your bees in relation to your opponent’s bees, and you’re better able to use the a-bee-lities to your advantage. The manufacturer recommended age is 7+, which might be too young for some kids. I think that kids could play it with some guidance, but I’m not sure they could learn to play it well. It’s a bit like chess, in that the more you practice the better you become (as long as your hive doesn’t run out of honey and all your bees starve to death 2 minutes into the game). This makes it appealing to people who really enjoy abstract strategy games, but it might not be the best choice for kids.
Some plays of Line-up Bees! are great, with the back-and-forth honey snatching bee-bopping action. Others are over quickly; bad luck prevents a player from gathering honey and they have to watch sadly as their hive starves to death. The game has flaws. The mechanics could use some more developing and the rulebook needs clarifications. Still, there’s a lot of potential here, and the gameplay is interesting enough to keep me coming back for more. For chess-lovers looking for a bee-lightfully quick abstract game, check out Line-Up, Bees!
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