Beez is the 2-4 player, abstract game about acquiring nectar and placing it into your honeycomb. Sounds simple enough, but the secret objectives, strategy and planning required is sure to make your brain buzz!
Spring into Action
To set up Beez you’ll first need to select one of the four lovely Bee tokens. You’ll then need to take a Honeycomb board and a score marker in the same colour as your Bee.
Next you’ll place the central flower tile (the one with the arrows) in the middle of the play area and depending on your player count you’ll need to place a certain number of flower tiles around the central tile. Flowers of the same colour should never be touching (this includes the leaf tiles) and you’ll want to try to get as even a playing area as you can.
Once your flowers are all placed, the small nectar tokens need to be put on top of their corresponding dots. Each flower has a central nectar and then three smaller nectar spaces, however only the flowers around the edge of the constructed board receive large nectar pieces. (The flowers next to the starting piece do not get large nectar.)
Next you’ll need to shuffle the three types of objectives in their respective piles. One of each type of objective is placed near the board as public objectives and each player will also receive one of each type of objective and select two to keep as their personal private objectives.
Once the board is set-up the first player (the last to eat a honey sandwich - but we just play the last to eat honey) places their bee on the starting tile first and then so does each other player in a clockwise order. And the first player takes their turn.
The first action you’ll take on your turn is determining your next flight path. On your Bee token, you’ll notice numbers around the base. These dictate which directions you can fly and if you choose that direction how many spaces you may fly.
The first time I played my brain found this SUCH a struggle to process (I don’t think my brain likes that kind of spatial thinking) and due to this, I found planning ahead a real struggle. I’d often find myself at a flower I didn’t intend to visit with no nectar for my efforts!
Once you’ve selected your direction, you’ll move your Bee the number of spaces dictated by the direction you chose. You MUST move that amount of spaces and cannot move less or stop early. If the amount of moves would ever take you off of the board, you cannot face that direction.
This is the key mechanic of the game, as the amount of spaces that you move also dictates where you can place the nectar you collected (if any) onto your honeycomb board. And it’s your honey board that can score you big points at the end of the game, depending on your objectives.
When you’ve moved the number of spaces prescribed by your Beez position, you may take ONE piece of nectar that is adjacent to the space you are on. If you’ve managed to land yourself next to a large piece of nectar you may to this piece AND a smaller piece of nectar too, providing there is one adjacent. This is the only occasion you would take two pieces of nectar and both must go into the honeycomb space for the distance travelled.
If you cannot place nectar, it stays on the board.
Finally, you’ll move your counter at the top of your Honeyboard along one space for each piece of nectar you have collected on your turn.
The leaves are a great strategic tool because if you land on the water droplet, you get to take another turn! This is where you really need to be able to see the possibilities in your mind’s eye to excel, and I must admit I’m useless at it!
Despite my lacking in this particular ability, I still enjoy the presence of the leaves and will venture there if my options are limited or on the rare occasion that I’ve correctly planned ahead.
Public and Private Objectives
My favourite part of many abstract strategy games are the public and private objectives that give you the ability to secretly score big points whilst feeling quite pleased with yourself. And Beez delivers this nicely.
There are three different types of objective. The pink one has to do with collecting a certain colour of nectar, the blue one is about certain placement of nectar and the orange, usually for the largest amount of points, is about having the honey configured in certain arrangements within the honeycomb.
Once you’ve had a chance to look at all of the objectives you’ll notice that some will be at odds with each other, and for this reason it can be best to focus in on one or two objectives, rather than try to achieve them all!
The Last Spoonful of Honey
Beez comes to an end once someone has stored twelve or more nectar on their personal honeycomb board, which makes sense as by this time you’ll be running out of nectar to harvest, but I do often find myself wishing I could continue.
As previously mentioned, this is where some early preparation strategy will come in handy, as it’s not always possible to complete ALL objectives as you can only store a finite amount of nectar. Just like honey, it’s wise not to spread yourself too thinly here. Choose one or two objectives to focus on, and you’ll have much more chance at success, at least for your first few games!
Scaling Up and Down
What I really liked to see in Beez were the advanced and alternate set-ups and rules. I like that this is a game that when I finally get good, I can challenge myself even further.
It’s a small thing, but it makes the game one that’s great to get off the shelf, as new variants and play styles are waiting.
But honesty, before I get stuck into those, I am going to have to try to get my head around planning my moves!
Beez is a puzzly abstract game that requires spatial thinking and the ability to plan a few steps ahead. For people (like myself) who have a hard time seeing those kind of moves in their minds eye it can be a little tricky at first. That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable, and this game is the exact kind of ‘thinker’ that I love getting to the table. With a bit of practice I’ve already managed to raise my average score (I was starting with a measly 8 points though!) and I find my brain is getting better and working out how my Bee is going to move.
I really enjoy this game, it looks beautiful on the table, has lots of wonderful components and makes my brain work a little harder than some of the other abstract strategies that I love.
If you’re a fan of abstract strategy games I would absolutely recommend Beez. If you prefer something a little (just a little) simpler Azul is a great place to start. Hey, if you can’t get enough of Bees, why not give Queenz a go, a thematically similar farming style game with some abstract strategy and set collection. And if that doesn’t fill your honey pot, what about the capitalist bees of Honey Buzz, all about money-making, worker placement and tile placement, I personally can’t wait for it!