Aww ... Honeybears is a cute little game. It has a small
board showing a beehive at one end and a bear's cave at the other.
There are four colorful bears which start at the beehives and race to
the cave, eating honey on the way. And finally there are 55 cards.
Even the artwork on the cards is cute.
The game is aimed at children 8+, but it's one of those games that can
be enjoyed by adults as well. The mechanics are pure Knizia - in fact,
they have a purity that he sometimes loses in other games.
In this game, you don't control a single bear, but may move any of
the four bears. All four bears are used whether you have three, four,
or five players. The bears are moved by card play.
Each color bear has eleven cards: six showing a walking bear (move 1
space), and five showing a running bear (move 2 spaces). In addition,
there are eleven cards of a rainbow suit, with the same proportion of
walk to run cards. With a rainbow card, you can move any bear. The
cards are shuffled and dealt out randomly to all players, so you'll
usually have some of each color.
The board is only 14 spaces long, and that includes a start space and
finish space. Half the board is labeled "-1", and the other half has
spaces ranging from "0" to "+3". When a card is played, the appropriately
colored bear advances one or two spaces, depending on if it's walking
A round ends when one bear reaches the cave. At that point, everyone
scores for the round, the scores are recorded, and the race is run again
until everyone's been First Player once. Then total up all the scores
to determine the winner of the game - very simple.
Scoring is interesting, and bears the Knizia hallmark. When one bear
reaches the cave (the +3 space), everyone reveals the cards remaining
in their hands. Each pair of Walk cards of the same color is worth
five points times the value of the space the same-colored bear is
on. An additional Walk card is worth one point times the value of
the space. Run cards are worth two points times the value of the space.
Rainbow cards are worth nothing. The player who moved the bear into
the cave gets a six-point bonus.
Scoring Example: if you have one Walk card for the bear that
made it to the cave, that's three points. If you have one Run card for
a bear on a +1 space, that's an additional two points. A third bear
finished on a 0 space, so you score zero points for it no matter how many
cards you have for that bear. And if you have a pair of Walk cards for
the final bear on a -1 space, that's worth -5 points, which brings your
score for the hand to zero!
So the simple yet truly lovely catch to the game is this: in order
to move a bear, you have to spend potential victory points!
Obviously, there's some luck involved here: whoever gets the most Rainbow
cards can move a bear they have a lot of cards for, thus saving their
victory points. True, but it's hard to have that many Rainbow
cards - and if you don't spread their use around, no one else will
move your bear. Generally, for a bear to make it to the cave or even
to the +2 spaces, it has to be moved by more than one player.
Also, moving a bear to the +2 rank is risky, as someone else can then
move it into the cave, scoring the +6 bonus for finishing the round.
And of course, the more Rainbow cards you have, the fewer scoring cards
in your hand - Rainbow cards score you no points at the end of the round.
Besides, the distribution of Rainbow cards evens out over the rounds,
so it hasn't been a problem in my experience.
Bad card distribution is the only possible flaw, and the odds are
against the same player getting the most Rainbow cards every round.
No, for all it's cuteness and apparent youthful target audience,
Honeybears is actually a very fine quick game. A great
filler with some substance in an all-adult group, and a fine family game
parents will enjoy playing with their children. I recommend it!
Other games by this designer I've reviewed are:
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