Bearicades Review - By 9th Level Games
Quick Glance - Bearicades by 9th Level Games
Game Type: Tower Defense
Number of Players: 1 to 4
Mechanics: Card drafting, hand management, variable player power
Introduction/Overview: Lumberjacks want to cut down the forest. You are a group of forest critters. This is not a pleasing arrangement. You do what you do best: try and get the other creatures of the forest to help drive the lumberjacks off…or at least divert them to to a different part of the forest.
Gameplay: Bearicades, despite being the best game title pun I’ve heard in years, is a combination of tower defense and take-that that plays in a series of rounds broken into two parts (day/night). At night you recruit the predators (foxes, bats, and the titular bears) that will be used to protect your house. This is done through a fairly simple draft.
During the day, the lumberjacks attack! Whoever has The Frog (start player card) draws one lumberjack plus an additional number of lumberjacks equal to the value printed on the first card drawn. That player then divvies up the cards as evenly as possible, including themselves. Then players use the various cards they drafted at night and the innate abilities of their group of woodland critters to stop the lumberjacks, make them run away… or send them to attack an opponent. If you can’t stop the onslaught of lumberjacks, your creatures begin running away. If you lose all your critters, you are out of the game. Last team standing wins!
Rulebook: The rulebook does a good job of being very thorough at explaining the game, almost to a fault. This game is meant to be pretty lighthearted, but this book is dense with lots of text blocks. Plus EVERY single TIME an IMPORTANT TERM is used IN the RULEBOOK it is BOLDED and CAPITALIZED which makes ACTUALLY READING the rules kind of HARD and EXHAUSTING.
I do have one minor nit pick. When dealing with the lumberjacks you either stop them, make them run off, or send them off. Stopping them is easy to figure out. It’s kind of easy to confuse “Run Off” and “Send Off”. I wish one of them would have been a different, more obvious term.
The game itself plays pretty quickly and isn’t nearly as hard to grok as the rules make it seem at the outset. I especially love the fact that once the predator deck runs out, it’s gone for good. This keeps the game from overstaying its welcome. Everything wraps up in a fairly tidy 30-45 minutes.
Theme: It’s a very cute game with playful cartoonish art. If you really want to get into the global crisis that deforestation is causing, then you could see it as a much darker game, but really you are just using bears to scare off / eat evil lumberjacks… ok maybe it isn’t quite as cute as I thought.
Set-Up/Takedown: There are a few variants that could make set-up take a couple extra minutes. Most of the time you’ll just be using all the creatures of one color type. So it’s just shuffling two decks of cards.
Components: I like the sturdy cardboard tiles used for your animal friends. As you will be flipping them over several times throughout the game, it’s nice that they will survive several plays.
Solo-Play: Yes! There is a solo variant listed in the rules. It doesn’t change the game very much, and has some clever ways of giving you some help even though you are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds…especially if you draw the wrong lumberjack at the beginning of the turn.
Final Thoughts: Bearicades is going to be a very group dependent game. If your group doesn’t care for direct conflict and take-that, then you shouldn’t play this game. If you are looking for a quick-playing slap fight that doesn’t stick around too long then you’ll probably like Bearicades.
One thing that helps raise it above other games in this particular genre is that, despite the name, it doesn’t put too much emphasis on jokes. Too many of these take-that style games feel like they rely on humor over interesting game play. Once you’ve seen all the jokes, you realize there’s just not much game left. In Bearicades, there’s still a solid game behind the pun. If you like Munchkin, Poo, or Fluxx-type games, you should definitely give Bearicades a try.