Honey Wars is a take that style card game with a dice rolling defense mechanic, designed by Andrew J Smith. Players are controlling bee hives to make honey faster than their competitors. Threat cards can be played on opponent’s hives to sabotage their honey output. The first player to control three hives and have 12 honey cubes, wins the game.
I didn’t find Honey Wars to be a particularly spectacular game, but the subject matter was rather interesting. Having experienced many amazing games, the gameplay didn’t really stand out and was just okay. It wasn’t flawed in any specific way, but not altogether that exciting either. The two player game was really lacking and just felt repetitive. Players mostly spent turns harvesting honey and drawing new cards, only playing a threat card when absolutely necessary. Honey Wars might be more appealing for kids, however, as the game is rather simple to learn and plays quickly to keep them engaged. The game is also semi-educational and would work well as a teaching tool for summer camp, outdoor education, or in a classroom. Gold Seal Games worked with a entomologist from the University of Florida to rank the threats to bees and value the card strength accordingly. The flavor text on the cards is a brief tidbit about the threat to bees, some of which I had never heard about before.
Unlike most take that games where cards take effect immediately and can be piled on a person in the lead, it was nice that Honey Wars had a limit to how many threats can be played on a player and gave players a chance to roll to defend. There can only be one threat card per hive a player has, so you can never be unfairly attacked by other players. At the start of your turn, you will have the chance to roll an 8-sided die to remove threats from your hives. Only if you roll less than the threat level of the card does its effect resolve. The order you place threats on your opponent is also important, since they are defended against left to right. It may not be wise to play a threat that makes your opponent give you honey, if the left most threat card is Virus and they stand to lose all their honey before they can give you any.
All in all, Honey Wars is what it is, a game for kids and casual gamers. The minute strategy and reliance on luck may be a turn off for more experience players. I can only really recommend this game for parents or educators. When kids are learning to save the bees, they can learn more about things actually threatening bees’ survival with a fun activity.