Time: ~15 minutes
Times Played: 8
BEEEEES! (with 5 E’s) is a real-time dice rolling game that plays two to five players. This is a dexterity game at heart and fast reactions will dictate winners and losers.
The game includes twenty-five dice, split into colored sets of five for each potential player. I believe the Kickstarter edition came with an additional sixth player but for full disclosure, I am not reviewing the Kickstarter version. There are also eighty honeycomb/flower tiles (sixteen per player) categorized alphabetically, thirty rubber Helper Bees (which are eerily reminiscent of grade school erasers), and five Beeline race cards in each color which accounts for one for each player.
The rulebook is eight pages and that’s mostly due to included graphics as the game is relatively straight forward and a breeze to teach and learn. Especially after your first play where you’ll have everything organized properly.
The premise is that you are a bee trying to impress other bees with your work as the bee-season begins. I don’t have any other bee-related games in my collection nor have I ever played another bee-themed game so kudos are given here for the theme.
As with most dexterity games, the gameplay is relatively straight forward. Players use both hands to cup their dice and roll them. Each player has their own set of dice and each die is unique in that there are no sixes on any of the faces. Instead, they are replaced with a bees face (also known as Worker Bee), which counts as a wildcard and can be used for any number or a bees stinger, which when two or more are revealed after a roll, a player yells “Killer Bees!” and snatches a honeycomb tile from an adjacent player.
Once dice have been rolled, players can place there dice on the flowertile in front of them or to the tiles adjacent to them. There are two types of placement. White dice with colorful pips can be placed on normally whereas colorful dice with white pips need to be placed on as a set. Once dice are placed on a flower, they remain there until the tile is completed.
When all dice images on a flower tile have been covered with actual dice, the player with the majority dice takes the flower tile and adds it to their play area in front of them by flipping it over, revealing the honeycomb side. The minority player receives a rubber Helper Bee which is worth points at the end of the game. If there is a three-way tie, “Buzzkill” is exclaimed and no one receives the tile. When a tile is completed, all players receive their dice back.
The main crux of scoring comes from the placement of your flower/honeycomb tiles in front of you. Your first tile goes anywhere, your second tile must be placed adjacent to that first tile, and subsequent tiles must be adjacent to at least two other tiles. Points will be awarded for like colors being adjacent to one another.
Another type of tile is the wildflower, which incorporates all colors and when revealed, an adjacent player with all five of their dice can exclaim “Beeline” and start working on completing a straight in increasing, sequential order on their bee card. For example, a one needs to be placed before a two and so on and so forth. Worker Bees count for this but Killer Bees (stingers) do not. This is a race and the first player to complete all five numbers wins the tile.
Play continues until either the Helper Bee pile is depleted or two stacks of tiles are depleted. Each tile touching the same color tile gains one point and Helper Bees are worth one point for every two bees. The player with the most Helper Bees is declared the “Bee’s Knees” and gains three additional points. The player with the most points wins.
This is a fast game that offers a surprising amount of fun. If you enjoy dexterity games, I would recommend BEEEEES! as it’s a great active filler game. It fills a Loonacy-esque role for us if we have some time to kill and want something to waste our time with. The intensity level is right where it needs to be for a real-time game. Nothing is too complex and the game does not take too long to play.
BEEEEES! forces players to roll dice with two-hands, which forces everyone to basically roll at the same speed. I really like this inclusion as now the dice-rolling game is more about the outcome of the dice rolls as opposed to the speed of which a player can roll.
This is definitely a game that plays better with more opponents. The more players there are, the more visual and auditory stimuli there are, which creates a more hectic environment which in turn makes the game more fun. This is totally playable at two- and three-players but it feels right at home at four and five. Three isn’t too bad as the game moves quickly but at two, the game is missing the charm of having the other players vie for spots on your honeycomb. One player will end up with more tiles while the other ends up with more Helper Bees. It’s not as tense as a duel as you’d think for two players competing head to head.
With the different color honeycomb tiles and the ability to work on the honeycombs adjacent to your position, BEEEES! creates an incredible balance when more players are involved and allows players to focus on different things in order to be the best bee that they can be. The game is also forgiving for new players as you can position experienced and amateur players away from one another
The only true negative I have about the game is the scoring mechanic. It can be easy to accidentally double-count a honeycomb and while it looks like the Kickstarter edition came with a scoring pad, the retail version had that feature omitted.
As a note, the game does rely on colors heavily, with the dice icons as well as the flowers/honeycombs tiles themselves so this could cause issues for players that are impacted by color blindness. The flower symbols are different for each color, but they are small and hard to see, especially in regards to the speed that the game is designed for.
BEEEEES! is an excellent filler-style game and I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. It doesn’t offer any real depth or complexity but it doesn’t pretend to either. This is a perfect game to play in-between other games as sort of a break since it takes little time to set-up and tear-down and requires little to no mental gymnastics. It’s not our favorite filler game (Loonacy sits atop the throne) but it sees the table more often than not, especially on a marathon board game day where we like to break things up.