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Subject: (P)Review of Waggle Dance, by van00uber rss

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Allen OConnor
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Waggle dance is a new game that is currently looking for funding on Kickstarter. You can find the project here. Grublin Games had a promotional stand for Waggle dance at this year's UK Games Expo (Read my blog entry for the event). They had a prototype copy of the game set up for people to try, and a team of staff there to teach people how to play . I should note that I have only played a prototype version of this game, and have not seen the final product.

So what is Waggle Dance about?

Player each have their colony of bees, and must produce honey in preparation for winter. Bees are represented in this game by dice, and the colony by double sided hex tiles, white one one side and gold on the other. Players start with three hex tiles, white side up, and with six bees. Players need to collect pollen in order to flip to produce honey, which is represented by the gold side of the hex tokens. The first player to have seven golden hex tokens is declared the winner.

The turn starts with each player rolling all of their dice and entering the first day phase. The flow of the game is split between day and night phases, represented by the front and the back of the starting player card; which is passed between each turn. The game centers around a row of cards, representing different actions that a player can take; and cards representing effects that resolve at specific points later in the game.

In the day phase, players take turns placing their dice on the table, in a worker-placement fashion. Each action has six spaces, one for each face of the dice. As players can see the dice held by the other players, they can be strategic about which cards to take. As well as actions, players can place dice on the pollen cards; there is one type of pollen for each face of the dice. The player with the most dice in a region takes two pollen counters, the second-most takes one counter. Pollen is stored on the white hex tiles, and once a player has four of a single type of pollen on a hex, they can designate two of their dice showing the same face; to flip the hex, and produce honey.

Other actions that can be taken by players can take include producing eggs, which can allow players to produce more bees for their colony. Players can add hexes to their colonies, which is a necessity to produce the number of honey hexes needed to win the game. Dice can be used to move pollen around your own colony, and also to take action cards from the deck; which will be explained a little later on.

Once all of the dice have been placed on the board, the game enters the night phase. The actions then resolve in a set order, and the dice are removed from the board as they resolve. Once all of the actions have taken place, the first player token is passed and the game continues, until one player has produced seven pollen.

One of my favourite elements of this game is the deck of cards. Players must spend a dice to claim a card, and each card is restricted to being played either in the day phase or the night phase. Cards can interrupt peoples moves, and can have a big effect on the game, especially in the night phase, when dice can be swapped around, tampering with the resolution.

What do I like about the game?

- The game has a dice-driven worker placement mechanic, which is absolutely central to the game. This gives the game plenty of depth without over complicating things.
- The theme is fantastic, and feels right with the structure of the game.
- The day, night system and action resolution is very well done. There are plenty of options available for players to choose from; but the game is straight-forward and easy to digest.
- There is very little down-time between turns.

What do I not like about the game?

- I have only seen a prototype, so I don't know what the final product looks like. However, looking at the high quality of the componants in Cornish Smuggler, which is published by the same company, I don't think that there will be anything to worry about.
- players prone to analysis paralysis may struggle in the early rounds of the game, as there can be a lot of choice at times.

My verdict

I really like this game. I think that it has some great mechanics, and a surprising amount of depth. There aren't many games out there that incorporate worker placement, dice and cards in such a straight forward, rational design. I got back from the convention and decided that I was going to back the game; if you haven't backed this already, I would recommend that you take a look at the Kickstarter page and give it some consideration. The game is quite cheap, costing £22 for the UK; £27 for US, Canada and the EU; and £31 for the rest of the world. I'm looking forward to getting my copy, and wish the people behind this game the best of luck in getting this off the ground.

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Christopher Dickinson
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Nice review. Nice bottom picture too (that is, picture at the bottom, not picture of a bottom, just to make sure there is no confusion).
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