Butterfly is a simple bug hunting game published by Rio Grande Games. While it operates on simple mechanics, it is a satisfying game to play with enough variety to stop it from going stale. It’s quick, easy, and suitable for all ages.
You play as Hudson the Hedgehog, moving him across the board to collect bugs and flowers. Each tile is worth different amounts of points and operates on different conditions. You are trying to capture the most amount of points! But more tiles does not necessarily equate to most points, thanks to some cheeky wasps.
Your board size depends on how many players are at the table. The board is double sided and denotes how many players can play on that side. There are 100 tiles in the game and a maximum board size of 81 tiles, so every game will be different. When you have the right side of the board, all the tiles go into the bag and you randomly assign the correct number of tiles for players. Then it is a matter of the starting player placing Hudson on the board. The rules suggest the first player is whoever does the best impression of a hedgehog!
The gameplay could not be simpler if it tried. Hudson is placed upon the board by the first player, on any tile and in any direction. From this point on, Hudson can move forward, left, or right as far as the player wants. He never goes backwards. Players take it in turns to move Hudson in this manner across the board, collecting the tiles where they land. And they keep going until the board runs out of tiles or until Hudson gets stuck.
Of the 100 tiles available to collect there are butterflies in four colours, flowers, dragonflies, lightning bugs, grasshoppers, bees, honeycombs, and wasps. Each type of tile has its own function. The butterflies, the bulk of the tiles, are worth straight points and a maximum of five. The only particularly special tile from the butterflies is the x2 multiplier, which doubles the value of all the butterflies of that colour in your hand.
The rest get a little more complicated. The flowers, a white daisy, are a multiplier. You square the number of daisies you have to produce the amount of points you score for them. With the dragonflies, you only score the value of the highest tile in your hand. The lightning bugs are the opposite and score only the lowest number in your hand. The grasshoppers are tricky for you can only keep one in your hands – the last one you acquire. If you draw a grasshopper with one already in your hand, the original tile simply hops off! (Now this can be great if you replace a tile with a value of 2 with one that’s worth 8, but not the other way around!)
The wasps are worth negative points which are deducted from your total. Stands to reason, have you ever seen a happy wasp? The last two tiles, the bees and honeycomb work together. Bees are worth -3 points if scored alone. However, if you have a honeycomb tile, they are worth nothing. The honeycombs, on the other hand, are worth nothing if played alone. They only have a value if scored with a bee. They are worth 10-15 points, the highest scoring tiles in the game. Provided you have a bee for every honeycomb tile.
The last aspect of gameplay comes from the board itself. Underneath the tiles are either leaves or a butterfly net. When Hudson passes over a revealed butterfly net, you can chose to draw a tile from the bag. Sometimes it pays off and other times you are stung by wasps!
What I Like About this Game
This game is beautifully simple. Even if you go into it with absolutely no idea of how to play, you are an expert by the end of your first play. There’s no convoluted mechanics to get your head around. And while it is clearly aimed at younger ages, it is just complicated enough to keep older players entertained too.
Butterfly is a well-executed game. The artwork has a nice cartoon-y feel to it which isn’t too over the top and each tile is well defined. There’s no squinting at the bugs trying to figure out what you’ve just picked up! Each different type of bug comes with its own unique coloured background and handy reminder of how they are scored.
It is a quick game. Hudson flies across the board to collect those critters! And you can rack up some pretty impressive scores along the way. Tactics vary with number of players and which tiles are presented on the board. If the board is filled with flowers, they are a solid means of bulking up your score. If there are two bees but only one honeycomb, then you’re better off hoarding butterflies. It all depends on the tiles.
The beauty of the simple mechanic, though, is that it does accommodate for a whole variety of tactics. Whether you like to think several moves ahead or are just content hoarding one type of tile, all types of players are catered for. (Personally, I’m a hoarder. Never could get my head around the chess way of thinking!)
One thing that does bug (hah –get it?) me about this game, is that the way Hudson moves can facilitate a rage quit. If the tiles aren’t going your way, then all you have to do is drive Hudson into a dead end and the game is over. Thankfully, that does say more about the player than the game!
Overall, Butterfly is delightful. Whether you are playing with the kids and introducing them to the wonderful world of gaming or trying to convert your older friends, Butterfly is a great starting point. It’s easy to pick up while still highlighting the potential for modern board games. There is a finite number of configurations for the board but it is an insanely huge number so it will be a long time before this game gets repetitive!