Bee Lives: We Will Only Know Summer is a game full of resource management, worker placement and tile-laying for one to four players. This is an unpaid Kickstarter preview and all of the components are from a prototype of the game. Lets get stuck in!
A game of Bee Lives takes place over the course of a year and throughout the game, you’ll be living your life as a Queen bee, managing your hive whilst trying to survive the summer. You’ll be collecting honey, gathering pollen, hatching new brood, and building honeycomb as well as performing more actions that you would if you were actually a bee! Like it would in real life, your hive will swarm when it gets too big though so you must keep an eye out, and these newly formed wild hives will compete with you and the other players for the available resources!
Points are scored in various ways throughout the game and whoever earns the most victory points throughout the game, wins!
As mentioned earlier, the game is played over the course of a year. You’ll have the Productive Months phase which represents the first 9 months of the year and then you’ll have the Winter Upkeep phase at the end of the game.
All of the game’s productive months follows the same sequence, with seven different phases which will always be played in order and are in fact true to what would actually happen throughout the year, which makes this game not only interesting and different thematically but also scientifically correct!
During this phase, each player will count how many brood they have in their comb. In this phase, each player counts how many empty cells they have available in their comb. This can be done simultaneously. The number of empty cells you have is the number of brood you will have available this month.
Each player must feed their worker bees with honey. To feed your bees, you must spend honey from your comb. Each honey cube can feed up to two worker bees. You do NOT have to spend honey to feed the brood, as they have not yet hatched. If you do not have enough honey to feed all of your worker bees, then any remaining worker bees starve. Remove the starved bees from your hive, discarding them back to your supply.
Each player spends pollen to hatch their brood into new worker bees. The number of brood you have available is the number of worker bees currently in the nest area on your hive board. How many of these brood will actually hatch is determined by how many pollen cubes you have in your comb. For each brood you have, you must spend one pollen in order for it to hatch into a worker bee. Hatching brood is mandatory!
Each player checks to see if their hive will swarm, when your hive swarms, you lose half of your bees and honey. Remove half of your worker bees (rounded down) from your hive, putting them back in the supply next to your hive board. Discard half of your honey cubes (rounded down), returning them to the general supply. It is way more complicated than written here but this just an overview so you can get an idea of how the game plays.
Reveal the next card from the current season deck. You must reveal the top card of the current season deck, and place it in the next available slot on the seasons board, covering the previous season card. Each season card has one or more ongoing effects, which go into effect now and will remain active until the card gets covered by the next season card in the following month.
In clockwise order, each player takes a single action. After that, each wild hive takes a single action. Repeat until no player has worker bees remaining.
Players will prepare for the following month.
After the productive months, there are three months of winter upkeep, December, January and February. During each month of winter, there are only two steps: you feed your bees and lose bees to disease. When feeding your bees, you’ll spend honey from your comb. Each honey cube can feed up to three worker bees.
If you don’t have enough honey to feed all of your worker bees, then any remaining worker bees starve. Remove the starved bees from your hive, discarding them back to your supply.
You may also lose bees to disease! After feeding your bees each month, you then lose bees to disease. The number of worker bees that you must discard is equal to your disease level, which is the number printed in the space currently occupied by the varroa mite on your disease track.
You can score points during the game by performing the following actions!
Swarming – when your hive swarms, you score victory points.
Raiding Hives – when you raid another hive, you score points if the raid is successful.
Defending Your Hive – when another hive raids your hive, you score points if the raid is
Surviving Winter – at the end of the game, you’ll score points for each of your worker bees that survived the winter, and points for each honey remaining in your comb.
DO I LIKE IT?
I’m going to start off by letting you know that Bee Lives might just be the best game I have discovered so far this year. It’s complex and there are a lot of steps you have to go through during the game to earn points and successfully get through the game and I love it, a euro game at its finest. We often talk games being thematic and immersive and all that good stuff and Bee Lives ticks ALL of those boxes and more, Designer Matt Shoemaker takes the life of a bee and all of his beekeeping experience and turns it into a GAME. If that isn’t cool, then I really don’t know what is.
Bee Lives reminded me a lot of playing a wargame, not in the mechanisms or the history but the experience. Not only did my mind nearly explode due to how much enjoyment I got from playing the game but the educational aspect of this game is incredible, I learned a lot about bees and beekeeping and that was really exciting to me. There’s a lot of depth to this game and I can appreciate how much work has gone into it. Something else I loved about the game is that although it is theme heavy, the game doesn’t hide behind the theme, the game play is just as fun!
A perfect blend of theme and mechanisms in this one that has been really exciting to play over the last couple of months.
You can check out the Kickstarter page which is live now, HERE