The game with the cute artwork has been around at Skellig for well over a year. Unfortunately it is currently out of stock. In the first half of the year comes the reprint and the first expansion "Fall Flavors". So there really isn't a better time to take a closer look at the base game.
Spring has arrived in the woods of Sweetwater Grove. But one thing is different this year: the bees have discovered the economy for themselves. Each is responsible for their own part of the hive and must use the workers skillfully to arrange the combs in the best possible way. You have to collect the right nectar, honey and pollen and fulfill the orders on the market or sell the products at the corresponding market prices. In the end, of course, you have to have made the most money.
What does a beehive look like from the inside?
In the box you will find all the game material nicely sorted thanks to a very good inlay. The construction is done so quickly. The Woodland and Beehive boards are placed in the center. Nectar and Honeycomb tiles are placed on their respective locations. In addition, three competitions of the queen are placed on the hive board, which bring in money when they are fulfilled. There are races and end conditions on these maps.
The market is also prepared on the woodland board. Three piles of orders are formed and the cost of each type of honey and pollen is determined.
The players receive a tableau and a fan of their color. There are also 10 Beeple, of which only one or two are available at the beginning.
The four personal starting honeycomb tiles are arranged according to the newly drawn setup card for each game. With a bit of starting credit, you can get started after placing the search markers.
Busy activity of the bees
When it is your turn, you can choose from one of two options. Either you place Beeple on a space of the beehive board and take the corresponding tile or you recall all workers.
If you place workers, they are placed as a stack at the respective location. This stack must always contain exactly one worker more than the highest stack already there. Decree tiles cost an additional five coins.
You now place the honeycomb tile in your own beehive. If you completely enclose such an empty cell, you may carry out all beehive actions whose symbols are adjacent to the cell just enclosed. The order is arbitrary here.
When collecting, you move your own search marker over the nectar field by one free step and any number of additional steps for every two coins. The nectar tile from the space where you end your movement may be placed in an empty cell suitable for that type. If there is no suitable empty cell or you end up on an empty field, you get a pollen.
With the production action you place your fan on any field in your honeycomb network. All adjacent Nectar Tiles produce their type of Honey when they are empty.
At the market, you can either fulfill an order by paying the required combination of honey and pollen, or sell any amount of one type of honey or pollen for the price listed. Then the price decreases by one. If you have fulfilled an order, you can carry out the additional action printed under the stack.
You get an additional worker from the nursery, which is available after the next call back of the workers.
Bookkeeping gives you five coins.
The decree is a joker and can be used for any of the five beehive actions mentioned.
If you don't take a tile but call back your workers, you get all the placed workers and the new ones from the nursery. They are available again on the next turn. In addition, you may move your collection marker exactly one space. However, neither nectar nor pollen is collected in this way.
At any point in time, fulfilling any of the requirements of a "Race"-type competition will award the highest tier of rewards available. There is never a reward for last place.
Even the busiest bees eventually call it a day
A game honey buzz ends when either two of the three order piles are empty or the value of four of the five resources traded on the market cannot fall any further.
Now comes the final scoring. All coins collected in the course of the game are counted. There is also one point for each remaining honey and pollen. The Queen's contests, which are scored at the end of the game, are now also considered. Again, there are no points for the last place. The last points are given for the orders fulfilled in the course of the game.
Whoever has the most points wins.
There is also a solo mode for the game. There is no opponent to beat here. Lazy drones block one space on each side of the beehive board and are moved again and again by a deck of cards. In addition, the cards in the deck specify actions that primarily drive the end of the game conditions. Special competitions are also part of the solo mode specific material. There are certain requirements that can be met at different levels.
At the beginning you choose how many points you want to get through the competitions. This is the prerequisite for a victory. The total score at the end of the game gives the solo player a rank.
Number of people: 1 to 4
Age: from 10 years
Playing time: 45 to 90 minutes
Long-term motivation: good
Core mechanisms: worker placement, tile laying
Author: Paul Solomon
Design: Anne Heidsieck
Official Website: honey buzz
Year of publication: 2021
Cost: 60 Euro
honey buzz is another very successful game in the Skellig Games program that effortlessly bridges the gap between family and connoisseur games. The cute artwork and excellent material let you overlook small weaknesses in the gameplay.
The theme is very well chosen and visually fantastic. The honeycomb tiles, each consisting of two hexagons, allow the honeycomb network to grow on the playing field in front of all other players. The feel of the honey also contributes to the successful thematic implementation. The shape of the tiles also provides an exciting twist on the well-known tile placement mechanism.
When playing, you have to keep in mind that you "only" have a standard version of the game. Great inlay, thick honeycomb tiles, beautiful wooden Beeple figures, "sticky" honey and a great finish on cards and rulebook. To find a game with a better feel, you probably have to search a very long time.
The rules are very well written and illustrated with clear examples at almost every point. It may take a few actions to memorize the exact meaning of each honeycomb action. But there are also super clear game aids that are available for everyone. If you activate a lot of hive actions in one turn, things can get a bit confusing, especially if there are several decrees involved.
In terms of gameplay, the game reveals a few other minor weaknesses in addition to the lack of clarity when activating the beehive actions. The supply of nectar tiles is usually depleted well before the end of the game, which removes a level from the decision-making process quite early. With a beehive that is practically no longer growing in terms of production ability, things are moving towards the end of the game in the last few moves. The arc of suspense throughout the game is rather flat.
Especially in a game for two, the competitions are not very exciting. Especially those who are scored at the end of the game often end up in a tie.
Apart from that, the gameplay is very smooth overall. The increasing costs for the workers for the placement locations instead of the blocking of the locations, which is otherwise often known from worker placement games, is a nice variant that makes the game a little "friendlier". The many variables in the game structure give the game good replayability.
At the end of the game, the scores are often relatively close together. Due to the fact that only a little more than half of the points (coins) are openly visible during the course of the game, there is suspense until the end.
The solo mode is not so successful. A lot of tension does not want to arise here because of the simple high score hunt. The selection of the point limit with the competition cards at the beginning does not help either.
However, it is definitely suitable for getting to know the game in general. If you generally enjoy high score hunts, you can certainly get something out of the game solo. However, we would not recommend it as a pure solo game.
Overall, this game is a great introduction to the world of slightly more complex games. The beautiful look and feel together with the quick start thanks to the simple rules make this another title in the Skellig Games program that we can recommend without hesitation despite its small flaws.