The Hungry Gamer Previews Queen Bee
Before I begin, I was sent a prototype copy of the game for review, this is not a paid review.
If you would prefer to watch a video of this preview check it out here!
To me, one of the hardest genres of game to pitch to a budding gamer is the “Dudes on a map” genre. It does not help that, it is one of the genres that does not spark my interest in general. Part of that is due to my not being very good at them, and part is due to the fact that they are long, and complicated to learn. Though I will say that Root has become one that I truly enjoy, but even that does not have the feel of a “Dudes on a map” game. Maybe it is the cute meeples…I dunno.
I know what you are thinking…”What does that have to do with the price of honey in San Jose?” Well. Everything. You see Queen Bee is a “Dudes on a map” game. I did not know this when I was looking at it at first, I was struck by the delightful art, and the cuteness of the game. However, when we sat down to play I quickly realized that that is what it is. You are trying to control the board, you are moving your bees about and taking out your opponent’s bees.
However, it is not something like Scythe or Rising Sun. This is, what I would call a Gateway “Dudes on a map” game. This is the one that you can use to start to introduce the idea of that style of game. Briefly, the way the game works is each player has their own hive, and queen. Additionally they have worker bees, and warrior bees. The warriors are stronger, but the workers can go places on the map that the warriors cannot. Each turn you have the choice to move, attack, or get more bees in your hive. To keep things lively you also have various cards which can give buffs or debuffs to any phase of the game. Combat is quick and simple and done with dice, and the use of the aforementioned cards.
The game itself can be COMPLETELY learned in under ten minutes, and you can play a game through in 10-20 minutes per player. The box says that it is a game for 14+, but I would disagree and say that 12+, or MAYBE even 10+ is more accurate.
So what do I think?
I love the artwork of the bees in this game, and I especially love the sculpts of the minis (yes there is a miniature version, and a cube version. I only got to play the cubes, but I have seen pics of the minatures). They are so well done, it is just adorable. I also am very much enamored of the plethora of bee puns that this game brings out of you as you play, I credit that to the art work and the various puns on the cards.
Thematically, this game hits the nail on the head. You look at the art and you see bees ready for battle. This is exactly what you do in the game, what you see is what you get. I also really like that this game gives you the feeling of a “dudes on a map” game without being heavy and complicated. I cannot think of another game in the genre that I would classify as a light game. This is the one, and is an excellent way to introduce new gamers, or kids to the genre.
Finally, I really like how combat is managed. I like that it is simple to determine what dice you get, and I like that the game gives you a chance to reroll in case you get that disaster of a roll on the first go. It helps mitigate the pure luck factor of the combat. I also like that it is an all or nothing fight. The winner loses no one, the loser loses them all, and draws a card. This keeps the game moving, which, as a gateway game, is necessary I think.
While I like the art of the bees on the cards, and I like the names of the cards, heck I even like the mechanics of the cards, I am left wanting more when it comes to the complete card package. The art on the cards is an awesome looking bee, or bees, but they just rest on a white background. I cannot help but think there could be something else to make them pop more. I will also say that it does seem like the cube version is far less awesome than having the minis. I would love a standee version of the game rather than a cube version as the lower cost option.
There are a few misses with the set up of the game. The first is that we found that playing with three players is invariably, a bummer for one player. Whoever is in the middle gets pounded on, because there is no tactical reason not to do that. If you are playing with two players there is no teaming up, and if you are playing with four there are bees to attack everywhere. I know there is a potential expansion or stretch goal with will have a different set up on the reverse side of the board which will help alleviate this, but as of the writing of this, that has not been settled yet.
The other thing that is a bit of a miss, I think, is that there is a card in the deck that causes you to miss the majority of your turn. That, in itself, is not a big deal, but we found that it was disproportionately devastating to have that played on you at the beginning of the game. I think it is something that should be pulled from the deck, then after 3 or 4 turns let them be shuffled in.
Bringing it all together
This is a delightfully streamlined “dudes on a map” game. This is the game that everyone should be using to introduce new players to the genre. It gives you the feel of it, without bogging you down in a ton of rules. It is also probably the only Dudes on a map game that you can teach to a child. It is easy to learn and easy to play. The art is wonderful, though the cards could use some background art, and if you get the cube version rather than the miniatures version you are going to be missing out. It is a shame there is not a standee version instead of cubes. The current version has a balance issue when played with three rather than two or four, and it does seem that some of the cards should not be in the deck from the get go. However, all in all this is a good gateway game with delightful art, and a ton of fun bee puns. (I am extremely proud that I managed to write this whole review without using a single one.I could not bee more proud!)
Buzz Buzz (yeah that is a Hamlet reference and a bee pun at the same time)
*Fun, simple, perfectly streamlined
*This is a gateway “dudes on a map” game
*The art on the bees is awesome, just wish the cards had background art
*There is a less expensive cube version…I just cannot help buy think standees would be better
*The combat and card play is perfectly managed for this game
*Without the alternate board the game feels unbalanced for three players, with two and four it works perfectly
*Bee puns…so many bee puns in the game.
*Nails the theme.