Birds, Bugs and Beans by Stacey Merrill is a big pack of silly squished into a little box. It's not just that the premise of the game is silly (although it is), it's that it inspires so much silliness in the players. The suggested age is 6 and up, but you can play with much younger kids than that. My daughter is 3, and she requests this game often.
Overall Rating: 7/10
How to play:
This game reminds me most of the old staple card game, War, where you and your opponent are matching up cards in the middle that you pull from your personal supply stack. Only instead of seeing who won the trick, you're looking out for some very specific animals to turn up- the namesake birds, bugs and beans.
If you see a bird you try and be the first player to chirp. If you see a bug (like a cockroach or fly) you try and be the first to squash it by slapping it own onto the table or clapping in the air. And if you see a bean- and those pesky beans try and disguise themselves as birds and bugs- you have to blow a raspberry- pffffffffffft! Aby combination of those special cards in a given turn means you have to be the first to hit all the right slaps, chirps or pfffffts! If you're the fastest player, you get to take all the cards that have been piling up in the middle back to your supply.
The object is to run the other players out of cards.
The artwork is a major hit. The pictures are stylized cartoon animals, and they are just the right level of detail and color for players of all ages to pick up on what they are right as they are flipped over. There's a wide variety of animals as well, so it never gets too repetitive watching the less important cards pass by.
In fact, some of the most fun we have is making the sounds of the animals as the come up, and it often requires us to act the part as well, like in the case of the King-Kong card. We laugh a lot as we're beating our chest with our fists and making monkey noises. We sometimes add optional rules regarding some of the other animals. For example, when the skunk turns up, the first person to yell "pee-ew!" gets the stack. There's plenty of opportunity for customization.
And since it is a kids game, I appreciate that it is low-key on the competitive scale. I can keep our stacks pretty even rather than have to make any take-that kind of moves that make kids feel rotten. Most of the time, our games just end before anyone is a clear winner or loser, which is just fine by us.
What doesn't work:
The running the other players out of their cards mechanic is getting pretty dusty. I get that it's probably far less aggravating with more than 2 players, but still- it's just not that much fun, especially if you're one of the players that gets knocked out of the game and end up sitting on your hands.
There's really not enough to do- it would be nice if there were some other victory conditions that were included with the game as variants, like collecting all the animals with wings, or all the reptiles, or something. You can always play this way with the little ones, but it's such a nice set of animal cards that it would be nice to be able to kick it up a notch.
If you've got kid gamers in the house this game is a great way to ease them into cards games. It teaches them good hand-eye skills and quick thinking on their feet. It also forces them to deal with the inevitable "tie" situation which is a good one for them to work through- don't always give them the benefit! I highly recommend it, and I think you can't help but get a bit silly when you're spraying your pffffffftttttt! around the table.
Handsome devil huh?
Nice review Patrick.