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Game Overview: Beez, or Who Can Deny the Heart that is Yearning for Nectar?

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Beez
When I first posted about Dan Halstad's game Beez in January 2020, the game seemed to be complete, and publisher Next Move Games announced that it would debut at Origins 2020.

Then the world got sick, and Next Move said, okay, no rush now since Origins won't be happening, and it reworked some of the game's graphic elements. (You can see the early 2020 version of Beez in the demo video that BGG recorded at Spielwarenmesse 2020.) Now Beez is available on the market, having been released at the end of 2020, and I can talk about the game as a finished design.

Your goal in Beez to have more honey points than each other player. To score honey, you need to collect nectar in particular colors and patterns in your hive. In the image below, you can see that you score:

• 2 points for each of the five colors of nectar you collect
• 4 points for each "elbow" arrangement of three nectar of the same color (with you not being able to re-use a nectar in multiple elbows
• 7 or 12 points depending on whether you can fill the middle row of your hive with whatever nectar you run across or with one nectar of each color

From gallery of W Eric Martin

In addition to the three public objectives (which are randomized each game), you receive three private objectives similar to the three types above, keeping only two of them before play begins. At game's end, you score for all five of these objectives, which can overlap in convenient ways.

Collecting nectar might seem like a straightforward task, but your bee brain is the size of a sesame seed, so your movement capabilities are limited to particular patterns honed by millions of years of instinct. Specifically, once you fly in a particular direction, you can't fly that way again next turn; instead you can move either 1 or 5 spaces (a biological term, to be sure) 60º from the direction you flew previously OR 2 or 4 spaces 120º from the direction you flew previously OR 3 spaces 180º from that direction. If you land on a leaf's water droplet, you can fly again immediately, turning once again as you do. Nature is weird, you know?

From gallery of W Eric Martin

If you land adjacent to a small nectar cylinder — which the blue bee above can do by moving toward the white nectar in the front right — you can collect it and place it in your personal hive in the row matching the number of spaces you moved. If you moved 4 spaces, for example, the nectar goes only in the top or bottom row. Again, instinct.

If you land on the large nectar in the center of a flower on the perimeter of the playing area, you can collect both that nectar and an adjacent small nectar, if one is present. (In the image above, the blue bee could instead move five spaces to land on the large blue nectar in the upper left, collecting both that and an adjacent orange nectar of its choice.)

Thus, your movement each turn is connected to both which nectar you collect (if any) and where it goes in your hive, which feeds into your ability to complete objectives both public and private. I love the minimalist pointillist art created each game, and I might sometimes be driven by the need to create patterns beyond what will actually score me points.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Nectar patterns in a three-player game, with my "butterfly wings" at left

When someone has collected twelve or more nectar, you finish the round so that all bees can fly an equal number of times (as in nature?), then you tally the points to see who wins.

I've played Beez six times on a review copy from Next Move Games, twice each with 2-4 players, and the games play out much faster than I think they will, even after six games of experience. Possibly we're just too grabby with the nectar in front of us as we often don't limit ourselves to collecting only the nectar that scores (based on color or position), and possibly we're not taking as much time as we should(?) to plan future turns.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
The start of a two-player game

That said, looking ahead more than one turn is tough given that you have (up to) five possible spaces to move on a turn, then five possible landing spaces from each of those spaces (with only minimal overlap between those secondary movements and with you imagining the future orientation of your bee), so we've mostly been winging it to this point. Maybe with more experience we'll be able to plan better — not to mention accounting for what the other players might do — but we're not there yet.

More thoughts on Beez and an introduction to the Fly, Butterfly! expansion in the video below:

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