Well, either way, BEEEEES! (that’s five E’s, mind you) is one of the newest Kickstarter games from Action Phase Games (now merged with Indie Boards and Cards). In this particular real-time dice-rolling game, you play as a set of carpenter bees aiming to impress the other bees as the busy season starts. You’re gonna have to go fast if you want to triumph, so you beetter get to it. Will you bee able to beecome the champbeeon?
Oof, all of those were rough. I’ll do better next review.
Setup is pretty simple. There are sets of tiles with letters A – E on them:
Separate each stack by letter, and then have each player take and shuffle a stack. Hold on to those for now.
Give each player a set of dice in their color:
And a matching player information / Beeline card:
Almost there! Now, just add six Helper Bees per player to the center:
Also set the scoreboard somewhere close, but you won’t need it until the game is over:
Once you’ve done all that, you should be ready to beegin:
Alright, this is a real-time dice-rolling game similar to Blend Off!, so bear with me for the time beeing. Each player should start the game by taking their dice in one hand and their stack in the other. Count down 3-2-1, and then each player puts their stack in the center, cups their hands, and rolls their dice.
When you roll your dice, you must put them beetween both your hands and cup them, as though you were shaking bees in a beehive and wanted to just, hurt yourself. Once you roll, you can put the dice you roll on flower tiles to claim them. But, you don’t have to just stick to your flower tiles; any adjacent player’s flower tiles are also fair game. That said, there are rules to placement.
There are two types of dice on tiles:
The white dice with the colorful pips are solitary dice. You may place on those as normal.
The colorful dice with the white pips are grouped dice. You may only place on those if you rolled that group (for instance, three 1’s) in one roll. That’s tough!
That said, once you place your dice on a flower you cannot take them back until the tile is completed. Don’t overcommit yourself!
How do you complete flowers? Well, once every die on the flower is covered, the player with the majority of the dice on the flower takes the tile and adds it to their hive. If another player has a die on the tile, they gain a Helper Bee. If three players each have e a die on the tile, that’s considered a “Buzzkill” and the tile is discard from the game. What a way to go.
Now, doing this real-time and trying to get grouped dice and solitary dice isn’t super easy. Thankfully, to help you, your dice are special, too:
The stingers are Killer Bees — if you roll two or more in one roll, you yell “Killer Bees!” and may take the top flower tile from any of your stack or the adjacent stacks, adding it to your hive.
The friendly bees are Worker Bees — they’re wild! You can use them as anything.
Now, when you add tiles to your hive, that’s how you score points. You should play tiles to your hive dice-side down and honeycomb-side up. Your first tile just goes anywhere, and your second must be adjacent to that one. All subsequent tiles must be adjacent to at least two other tiles. That’s just the rules. Here’s what a Hive might end up looking like:
One last thing I didn’t mention was Wildflowers (white tiles). When one is revealed, any (adjacent) player with all five dice may yell “BEELINE!” and flip their information card over to reveal their Beeline. What happens next is a race — you have to fill the card, but you can only place dice in increasing order. This means you must place 1 -> 2 -> 3 -> 4 -> 5, otherwise you can’t take the tile. Once one player does, they get it! Note that Worker Bees are wild, so they can help you, but Killer Bees’ stingers do nothing, here.
Play continues until either:
- Three stacks are depleted. If a stack is depleted, the adjacency doesn’t change (unlike, say, BANG! The Dice Game). That just means those players have one fewer stack to pull from.
- The Helper Bee pile is depleted. You want to get Helper Bees.
Now, tally scores! Look at your hive and see how many flowers you’ve completed. Each flower completed is worth 1 point. Wildflowers are wild, so they complete every flower on tiles they touch. How nice!
Finally, Helper Bees are worth one point for every two bees you have. If you have the most Helper Bees, you are declared the “Bee’s Knees” and you gain three extra points! The player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
Honestly, you want to play this at four or five. Three’s not bad, and neither is two, but having opponents be distracted by tiles that you can’t reach is a really neat conceit, and it makes the game a lot more hectic and fun, in my opinion. I think it’s good at any player count, but it really shines at higher player counts.
- Bee aggressive. How was I not going to say that? You need to bee rolling quickly and fast if you want to grab flower tiles. Otherwise you’ll get left … beehind. That said, you should also use Killer Bees to steal tiles that opponents have worked hard for and just generally play like you’re here to win.
- Make sure to group colors. You really want to score a bunch of flowers, so try to create large groups of the same color. This means you’ll probably want to only take 2-3 types of tiles, max. Otherwise you’ll run the risk of spreading yourself a bit too thin.
- Go after wildflowers, or don’t. Your call. If you get lucky, you can get two opponents fighting over a wildflower while you steal all the available flower tiles out from under them. That’s always a good time. That said, wildflowers placed in the right spot are pretty useful, as far as scoring points go. They’re good ways to bridge the gap between two (or more!) different colors without losing points, if you’re collecting lots of different colors.
- Don’t underestimate Helper Bees. They are not a bad consolation prize at all, so try to spend some time getting a die or two onto various flower tiles to force your opponents into giving them to you. They’re worth points at the end of the game!
- Use Killer Bees if you can get them. They’re great ways to nab tough tiles (especially if your opponent is trying to get Helper Bees from them), as they don’t give Helper Bees at all! They’re just a free steal. Rough!
- During Beelines, try to use your Killer Bee dice first. That gives you more chances to roll either the number you need or wild. You have a 1/6 chance of rolling the number you want with a Killer Bee die, and a 1/3 chance of rolling it with a Worker Bee die. That’s just probabeelity!
- Keep your dice on the table. The last thing you want during a real-time dice-rolling game is to have your dice escape to the floor! Use a dice tray if that helps, or just try to roll in as small of a space as possible.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Really fun! It’s a solid game. The Grouped Dice vs. Solitary Dice thing in particular is pretty good. The Worker Bee wilds and the Killer Bee steals are both nice effects that fit in well with the theme, as well.
- Cool theme. It’s quirky and not something I currently have in my collection. The closest I’d get would be BrilliAnts.
- Nice art. It’s bright and colorful and works perfectly with this game. I always appreciate it when that happens.
- It’s the right level of intense. It’s fast-paced and real-time and lots of dice rolling but it doesn’t take too long to play. All things considered, that’s good!
- I love the bee puns in the rulebook. They’re delightful. And I pretty much love all puns, so, always nice to see.
- I think the double-handed rolling fixes the one problem I had with Blend Off!. I think it makes rolling a bit slower and less player-dependent, so it takes everyone about the same time to roll. That’s nice! Makes it more about the luck of rolls and quick decisions. That’s also interesting.
- The dice could be bigger. This game would be really cool with larger tiles and bigger dice, but I understand how cost affects that. It’s still kind of a bummer, though.
- It’s rather difficult to put away. I think the 6th player stretch goal doesn’t actually fit in the box. It would be much easier without it. Or with a bigger box. Or an insert.
- The Kickstarter tiles are thicker than the base game tiles? Also a weird thing. They both have 16 tiles, but the F stack is just … bigger? That’s odd.
- The box is really thin. It’s just kind of oddly flimsy. Just a weird note about the construction of the box itself. I think that might be just how IBC boxes go; I’ve noticed the same thing from Aeon’s End, Aeon’s End: War Eternal, and Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodama, but I haven’t seen the same thing from other Action Phase games like Trickster or Kodama. Weird.
- Scoring is a bit of a pain. We’ve started putting dice on the flowers as you count them so that you don’t double count or something.
- Kind of disappointing at two. It’s intense, sure, but you’re not really competing with anyone other than the other player, so either you get the most tiles or you get the bonus three points from Helper Bees. I think some of the Royal Decrees might make the two-player game more exciting but we’ll see.
Overall: 8.25 / 10
Overall, BEEEEES! just barely beeats out Blend Off! in my book, for real-time dice rolling games! It feels a bit more evenly matched between players and I think it gives everyone different things to focus on to be successful, and that’s kind of nice. It means you can sit the most experienced player across from the least experienced and they might never interact at all, as opposed to that experienced player swooping up all the smoothies in Blend Off with reckless abandon. Plus, it’s got a nice theme and some thematic gameplay that works with what it’s trying to do, as the table becomes a veritable hive of activity when all players are going at it. All that and a delightful presentation makes it clear that this game is something that I’ll bee playing for a while to come! I’d definitely recommend it.